Seven experts working to improve public safety: Meet our mentors

The five finalists have been busy in the Virtual Accelerator stage of the Hidden Signals Challenge, where they are developing their concepts into detailed systems designs with guidance from mentors in biodefense, data science, design, user research, and emergency management.

These experts are providing the finalists with invaluable one-on-one feedback on topics such as user research and design thinking, white paper development, solution feasibility, and system implementation planning, which will ultimately inform the development of viable public safety solutions. We extend a big thank you to our mentors for offering their time and insight!

Meet the mentors:

Dr. Jessica Appler

Acting Director of the Division of Quantitative Analysis at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Jessica Appler is the Acting Director of the Division of Quantitative Analysis (DQA) in the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). DQA provides analytic support across BARDA to identify and understand medical and public health consequences, optimize medical countermeasure development, and reduce operational gaps in medical countermeasure deployment and administration for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) incidents and pandemic influenza events. Prior to joining HHS, Dr. Appler was at the Deputy Undersecretary of the Army for Test and Evaluation CBRN Defense Division, where her portfolio included oversight the test and evaluation of biological detection programs, advanced technology demonstrations, and CBRN test infrastructure construction.

Previously, she was a member of the Chemical and Biological Defense Division of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, where she provided subject matter expertise and strategic vision for existing and planned biosurveillance programs. She was part of the interagency team that identified critical needs and gaps across the government in biological detection and diagnostic technology for the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s National Biosurveillance Science & Technology Roadmap. She was both a Diplomacy, Security, and Development Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the American Association for Advancement in Science, as well as an Emerging Leader in Biosecurity Fellow with Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Dr. Appler earned her Ph.D in Neurobiology from Harvard University, and her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Noemi Derzsy

Data Science Fellow at Insight Data Science

Holding a PhD in Physics and research background in Network Science and Computer Science, Noemi’s interests revolve around the study of complex systems and complex networks through real-world data. Currently, she is a Data Science Fellow at Insight Data Science and a NASA Datanaut. Previously, she was a postdoctoral research associate at Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Dr. Judy Edworthy

Professor of Applied Psychology and Director of the Cognition Institute at Plymouth University

Judy is a Professor of Applied Psychology and Director of the Cognition Institute at Plymouth University (UK) and a leading expert on the design, development, assessment, and psychology of audible alarms in high-workload, safety-critical environments. Her current focus is on clinical alarms, including the development, validation, and documentation of audible alarms supporting the update of a global medical device standard, and the exploration and delineation of alarm fatigue. Her training is in experimental psychology, though she now always works within a multidisciplinary environment which typically includes clinical staff, health and safety practitioners, human factors experts, engineers, designers, and other disciplines on a project-by-project basis.

She has a large number of peer-reviewed publications on audible alarms, and many others on the presentation and understanding of visual information, particularly in emergencies. She is currently working in close cooperation with the US Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) on the topic of audible alarm development and standardization, and has worked with many other public sector and not-for-profit organisations within the UK such as the National Health Service (NHS), and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). She has attracted over £1.4 million ($1.9 million) in financial support for research since 2000.

Olga Ianiuk

Data Engineer and Data Scientist at Enigma Technologies

Olga Ianiuk, M.S, has been with Enigma Technologies for more than 2 years working as a Data Engineer and Data Scientist. Olga studied mathematics, computer science and sociology at St. Petersburg’s State University in Russia. She holds a M.S in Applied Data Science from NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, where she  explored applications of machine learning techniques to find signal in data with seasonal and spatial relationships such as food consumption, housing, crime, waste generation, and public transportation.

Alicia Johnson

Resilience & Recovery Manager for the City of San Francisco

Alicia is a Resilience & Recovery Manager in the Emergency Management Department for the City of San Francisco. A natural-born problem solver with a super power for “getting it done”, Alicia Johnson has a penchant for civic innovation. An Emergency Manager by trade, Alicia can count Hurricane Sandy, Super Bowl 50, and an earthquake or two in her portfolio of responses.

She has changed the culture of emergency preparedness with the creation of and it’s open source sister, City72. A community that plays together, stays together, and Alicia is diligently integrating private and non-profit organizations into daily and disaster operations at the City of San Francisco.

Jen Seth

User Experience Researcher at Google

Jen Seth is a User Experience Researcher at Google.  She manages the user research team for Android Wear, which is Google’s software platform for wearables.

Previously at Google, she led user research for material design, and conducted research for the Search team. Jen has expertise in human-computer interaction, wearables technology, ethnographic research, and survey design. She received a Masters in Computing Science from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from Simon Fraser University.

Dr. Teresa Quitugua

Chief Scientist and Associate Director of Operations & Outreach, National Biosurveillance Integration Center

Dr. Teresa Quitugua serves as the Chief Scientist and Associate Director of Operations & Outreach for the National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC) within the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs. Since 2007, she has led a multidisciplinary team in coordination of interagency biosurveillance information sharing across the National Biosurveillance Integration System (NBIS) interagency community.

Dr. Quitugua previously worked as the Director of the Molecular Mycobacteriology Laboratory for the Texas Department of Health and as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). In these positions, she coordinated public health and research interactions with private and public health care providers and laboratories at city, regional, state, national and international levels for clinical and molecular epidemiologic investigations of tuberculosis.  She also directed the development of TB and Valley Fever vaccine, pathogenesis, and immunology studies; molecular TB drug susceptibility testing methods; and new TB genotyping methods. Dr. Quitugua also served as a member of the Infection and Immunity editorial board and as Chair of the UTHSCSA Institutional Biosafety Committee.