Director of UF Informatics Institute named UF Research Foundation Professor 2020
By Halle Marchese
George Michailidis, Ph.D., Professor of statistics & founding director of the University of Florida Informatics Institute
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
George Michailidis, professor of statistics at the University of Florida, specializes in developing methods to accurately model data across scientific disciplines. His expertise enables scientists to perform complex analyses of vast datasets to gain insights and draw new conclusions. Michailidis’ collaborators specialize in a variety of disciplines and include biologists, economists, epidemiologists and engineers.
“I’m trying to understand, at the theoretical level, problems with and limitations of the current models. Where do they break? How can they become more robust? Is there bias that could interfere with the results?” said Michailidis, who is also the founding director of UF’s Informatics Institute. “And then we come up with new methods and techniques to address scientific topics of interest.”
In his role as director of the Informatics Institute, Michailidis coordinates collaborations among faculty members, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students across disciplines. The institute helps support new research using big data at UF by providing funding opportunities, fellowships for postdoctoral researchers and graduate students and logistical support for workshops and conferences.
“My experience at UF and at the Informatics Institute has been hugely rewarding,” he said. “Data science isn’t field-specific – collaborators bring expertise from diverse areas and form a cross-cutting community that improves research, and there’s so much learning happening right now.”
Michailidis, who earned his bachelor’s in economics from the University of Athens in Greece, said wanting to dig deeper into economic data initially drove his interest in advanced modeling techniques. He went on to earn his master’s and doctorate in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles before spending 17 years as a faculty member at the University of Michigan. Michailidis arrived at UF in 2015, and he has since published more than 60 papers and won grants totaling more than $3.5 million.
Michailidis said that rising to modern challenges is a key facet of his work. Under his direction, the Informatics Institute – which has awarded more than $2.5 million in grants to researchers working on cutting-edge projects since 2015 — began funding new data-enabled science and engineering projects, including ones that could potentially inform responses to COVID-19. Michailidis also said he is turning his attention toward artificial intelligence as UF launches its partnership with technology company NVIDIA.
“Artificial intelligence is, to me, one of the most exciting things to work on,” Michailidis said. “The university is building a good foundation to move into that research space and to expand the existing community of machine learning researchers to improve the work and create new technology and tools.”
Learn more about Michailidis’ research.
Learn more about how the Informatics Institute is helping advance artificial intelligence.
This story originally appeared on UFRF.