Meet New Faculty Member - Pratheepa Jeganathan
Meet Pratheepa Jeganathan, an assistant professor in the Mathematics & Statistics department. Pratheepa is joining us from Stanford University.
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist?
I always wanted to have a career where the quest for knowledge and challenges that engage in thinking about never ends. I have been blessed with several excellent teachers during high school, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral training. Their zeal and passion for nurturing young individuals to solve challenges using data by building methods upon previous knowledge and are more incremental have left an enduring impact on my career as a scientist.
What's the focus of your research?
My research centers on the statistical challenges that arise in analyzing multi-domain data. For example, data on the vaginal ecosystem (VE) and host response (HR) can be represented in multiple tables. They can be derived using high-throughput sequencing (HTS) technologies from pregnant women at multiple time points. VE data can be collected as the 16S rRNA gene sequencing, metagenomics, metabolomics, and metatranscriptomics of vaginal samples. Data on HR can include host cytokine expression profiles and single-cell mass cytometry intensities obtained from whole-blood samples. Integrating these data can provide a comprehensive understanding of the vaginal ecosystem in pregnant women. These data are complex because of their technical variability, high-dimensionality, heterogeneity, multiple modalities, sparsity, and dependency. This complexity increases the demand for researching robust statistical methods that can generate interpretable results.
One of my research directions focuses on developing nonparametric statistical procedures that can offer provable computational and statistical guarantees for analyzing multi-domain HTS data and can be easily used by domain experts.
I am also researching empirical higher-order approximation theory in statistics for multi-domain data, extending my graduate research into saddlepoint approximations for statistical inference in time series, spatial, and survival analysis.
To further consolidate these efforts, I am interested in collaborating with mathematicians to meld profound technical ideas and domain scientists to evaluate and apply the procedures emerging from my research.
When you're not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
Apart from academic activities, I practice Bombay jam – dance fitness and workout, occasionally play badminton, table tennis, board, and card games, cook Sri Lankan food and desserts, do painting, and involve in cultural activities.
Pratheepa completed her undergraduate degree in Statistics and Operations Research at the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka. She then was a lecturer in statistics at the University of Peradeniya before pursuing graduate studies. She received an MS in Statistics and a Ph.D. in Mathematics with an emphasis in Statistics from Texas Tech University. While completing her Ph.D., she interned at the Research and Testing Laboratory in Lubbock and the Clinical Research Institute at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Pratheepa completed postdoctoral training in the Department of Statistics at Stanford University focused on developing statistical and computational methods for analyzing high-throughput sequencing data. She taught undergraduate courses at Texas Tech University and Stanford University.