Credentials: Assistant Professor, Departments of Mathematics and Population Health Sciences
Position title: Departments of Mathematics and Population Health Sciences
Amy Cochran works in computational psychiatry, creating mathematical models to increase understanding of psychiatric phenomena that are traditionally subjective and hard to define, such as emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. The mental health field generates an enormous amount of data. Amy uses causal inference, which is the process of using data to infer causes and solve problems, to help researchers make sense of this data and clinicians understand what interventions will best support their patients.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people struggling with their mental health has grown faster than the capacity to support them. Amy is developing mobile apps that deliver personalized micro-interventions, and data science helps her understand how to provide the correct interventions in ways that respect what’s going on in patients’ lives. She describes these apps as a band-aid to support some individuals who may be on a waiting list or face other barriers to accessing mental health care.
Amy relies on strong collaborative relationships with clinicians who keep her work focused on improving patients’ well-being. She also collaborates with her husband, Gabriel Zayas-Caban, who is a professor of industrial and systems engineering. Amy, Gabriel, and Brian Patterson were recently awarded an American Family Funding Initiative grant for operations research in hospitals, insurance, and other systems.
“Mental health is, I think, as complicated as you get, in terms of the data. Wherever there’s data, and complicated data, you need data science to help understand the patterns that you’re seeing. From there, you hopefully can improve treatment options.”