Dr. Melanie Moses
Associate Professor, UNM Computer Science
University of New Mexico

Dr. Melanie Moses
leads the Biological Computation Lab, an interdisciplinary research lab of 7 graduate students, 1 postdoc, and 4 undergraduate researchers.  Her research focuses on understanding adaptive search processes in biology, and translating those into computational algorithms and systems that are sufficiently flexible and robust to operate in uncertain real-world environments.  Her 50 publications are highly interdisciplinary, and appear in high impact journals including Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and The Royal Society’s Interface, as well as in more specialized computational conferences focused on emergence and complexity.

The Moses lab developed the iAnt robots and Central Place Foraging Algorithm the technological foundations of the Swarmies robots. The iAnts swarm robotics system emulates ant behaviors which govern memory, communication, and movement, as well as an evolutionary process that tailors those behaviors into foraging strategies that maximize performance under varied conditions.  This work is the first to demonstrate high-level robot swarm behaviors that can be automatically tuned to produce efficient collective foraging strategies in varied and complex environments.

Professor Moses has extensive experience running large interdisciplinary grants, training undergraduates and outreach, particularly to students from underrepresented groups. She is the co-director of the NIH Program in Interdisciplinary Biological and Biomedical Science: a $5 Million dollar training grant involving faculty from 7 UNM departments in the School of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences that has graduated 30 students who produced over 100 peer reviewed publications during their time as PiBBs Fellows. She is a Co-PI and the Computer Science Lead for the NSF-sponsored UNM STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program) to provide mentoring and paid summer internships to 70 sophomores and juniors every year.  She also leads UNM Computer Science outreach through a collaboration with the NM-CSforAll program. The program provides a hybrid course with online UNM content and high school teachers (trained by UNM) to run labs in their local school.  This year the program is serving 500 students (74% from underrepresented groups) in 30 NM high schools (mostly rural). The program has a successful completion rate of almost 90%, with students earning both UNM and high school credit.