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Natural Sciences Welcomes Two Visiting Harrington Faculty Fellows

Natural Sciences Welcomes Two Visiting Harrington Faculty Fellows

The College of Natural Sciences will welcome two members of the Harrington Faculty Fellows Program, which supports a group of visiting scholars each year.

The Donald D. Harrington Fellows Program is one of the best endowed visiting scholar and graduate fellow programs in the nation. Sybil Harrington established the program as a tribute to her husband, Don Harrington, to support young faculty members and graduate students who have academic records of success and ingenuity.

Each year, fellows visit UT Austin to pursue their research and collaborate with colleagues. A Harrington Faculty Fellow is on leave from their home university and is appointed as a visiting member of the UT Austin faculty. The fellowship includes a competitive stipend, relocation expenses, and full medical benefits along with office space and administrative support provided by the host department, organized research unit (ORU), or institute.

The 2021-22 Harrington Faculty Fellows visiting CNS are:

Rachel Wang, Department of Statistics and Data Sciences

Wang is currently a senior lecturer (equivalent to a tenured assistant professor) in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sydney. Her field of study broadly involves developing scalable statistical and computational tools with theoretical guarantees and applying them to big data-driven scientific problems.

Her research focuses on building methodological frameworks to extract information from large-scale genomics data, including single-cell data, and to gain new insight into cellular functions and states. She uses statistical network modeling and machine learning techniques to infer interactions between genes and regulatory elements and identify biomarkers, which can help shed light on the roles they play in determining cellular phenotypes and disease mechanisms.

Justin Lavner, Department of Human Development and Family Sciences

Lavner is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Georgia. His research focuses on understanding and improving family well-being with a major emphasis on experiences of underserved and marginalized populations.

His research examines how relationships change and how factors such as individual characteristics (e.g., personality, mental health), relationship dynamics (e.g., communication), and external stressors (e.g., racial discrimination, sexual stigma, financial strain) predict these changes. His applied research focuses on developing preventive interventions to strengthen relational, physical and mental health among couples and families.

He is currently working with the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) testing two interventions for first-time African-American mothers and their newborn infants. This randomized controlled trial (Sleep SAAF) aims to advance the understanding of family dynamics and health during the transition to parenthood and represents an important step in efforts to reduce health disparities among African-American families.

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Thursday, 23 September 2021

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