Mentor: Michael Baym, PhD
Cristina Herren is a Harvard Data Science Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow who is broadly interested in combining statistics, mathematical models, and experiments to study complex biological systems that are not easily deconstructed into separate parts. Her current research investigates how microbial communities assemble and change, and whether these processes are predictable. While completing her PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Herren worked in a number of varied ecosystems (studying biofilms, flies, zooplankton, and aquatic bacteria) with the goal of understanding what drives the abundances of populations over time. She also enjoys the statistical challenges presented by the new kinds of data generated while studying microbial communities. She believes that microbial ecology lies at the intersection of ecological theory, microbial systems, and applied statistics. Her research touches on all these themes; during the course of applying ecological theory to microbial ecosystems, she often ends up developing new statistical methods for these novel datasets.