The Michigan Engineer News Center

Danai Koutra named Morris Wellman Professor

Koutra specializes in advancing network methods to speed up a variety of big data applications.| Short Read

Professor Dani Koutra, assistant professor in Computer Science and Engineering, has been named a Morris Wellman Faculty Development Professor. The professorship is awarded to junior faculty members in recognition of outstanding contributions to teaching and research.

Koutra specializes in advancing network methods to speed up distributed computing, web searches, and a variety of other far-flung applications involving large datasets. Her work helps get a better understanding of the relationships within these datasets, which can make navigating them faster and more meaningful.

Recently, Koutra earned an Army Young Investigator Award and an NSF CAREER Award in support of two projects that innovate the way we use networks to understand the world and speed up our technology. Her other ongoing projects include understanding how the connectivity in functional brain networks may change over time, making networks more useful, predictive tools for structuring data in machine learning applications, enabling faster and more personalized web searching and digital assistants, and combining summarized datasets that group information by incompatible units.

Koutra has earned a number of research awards throughout her career, including the 2016 ACM SIGKDD Dissertation Award for her thesis on “Exploring and Making Sense of Large Graphs,” an honorable mention for the SCS Doctoral Dissertation Award (CMU), an ARO Young Investigator Award (2018), an Adobe Data Science Research Faculty Award (2018), an Amazon Research Faculty Award (2019), a WSDM 2019 Outstanding PC Award (2019), and several best paper awards and nominations.

About the Morris Wellman Faculty Development Professorship

Michael P. Wellman, the Lynn A. Conway Collegiate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, endowed the Morris Wellman Faculty Development Professorship in his grandfather’s name. Morris Wellman was an engineer who worked for most of his career as a civil servant of the City of New York.

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  • Danai Koutra portrait

    Danai Koutra

    Assistant Professor, EECS

The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read