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School of Engineering

Pickering and Hughes named to new professorships

Monday, August 19, 2019
Amy Pickering and Michael C. Hughes were named the Tiampo Family Assistant Professor and the Ann W. Lambertus, J75 and Peter Lambertus Assistant Professor, respectively.
Faculty headshots of Amy Pickering and Mike Hughes placed alongside each other

Assistant Professors Amy Pickering and Michael C. Hughes were recently appointed to new professorships in recognition of their outstanding research programs and potential.

Pickering, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was named the Tiampo Family Assistant Professor. She received her Ph.D. in an interdisciplinary program in environment and resources from Stanford University and earned an M.S. in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.

Pickering’s research combines tools from multiple disciplines – including engineering, epidemiology, and microbiology – to study enteric disease transmission pathways among households in low-income countries, and to identify low-cost and scalable interventions. She also develops tools for environmental surveillance for infectious diseases, and studies links between the changing world climate and the waterborne transmission of human pathogens, with an eye toward identifying mitigation strategies for vulnerable populations.

Pickering’s recent work includes research published in The Lancet Global Health evaluating a new strategy for passively treating drinking water at community water points. Pickering and colleagues developed a novel device that automatically dispenses small amounts of chlorine without requiring electricity – a key feature in low-resource environments.

The Tiampo Family Professorship was established in 2018 to recruit and retain outstanding junior faculty members with a generous gift from James J., E83 and A83, and Kristy F., E83, Tiampo, who met while studying civil engineering at Tufts.  Their gift was inspired by their belief that engineering is a creative and collaborative discipline best taught from a rich diversity of perspectives and discussion. This professorship is intended to help support that commitment within the School of Engineering faculty, principally among junior faculty who will be instrumental in teaching, learning and research at Tufts for years to come.

Hughes, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, was named the Ann W. Lambertus, J75 and Peter Lambertus Assistant Professor. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. in computer science from Brown University, and later completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Hughes is a principal investigator in the Tufts Machine Learning Research Group. He develops statistical machine learning methods that find useful structure in large, heterogeneous datasets and help people make decisions in the face of uncertainty. His research interests include Bayesian hierarchical modeling, semi-supervised learning, optimization algorithms for approximate inference, and improving the interpretability of machine learning models.

Many of the new machine learning approaches developed by Hughes and his research team at Tufts are motivated by applications in healthcare. His primary goal is to help medical professionals effectively use large electronic health record datasets gathered from previous patients to help make effective care decisions for new patients. Among his active projects, he is helping take on health challenges like depression, diabetes, and infertility by training probabilistic models to make personalized treatment recommendations. He enjoys working closely with clinical collaborators to ensure that new methods are informed by domain knowledge and clinical goals at every step of the research process.

The Ann W. Lambertus, J75 and Peter Lambertus Term Professorship was established in 2019 through the generosity of Ann Lambertus, J75, and her husband Peter Lambertus. Their gift was inspired by their understanding of the impact that faculty have on the lives of the many students they teach and mentor, and by their personal and professional interest in the field of computer science.