Credentials: Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
Position title: Department of Plant Pathology
While earning her Ph.D. in statistics at UW–Madison, Claudia Solís-Lemus attended a seminar on the use of probability models to understand the evolution of DNA. In her words, it was the coolest thing she’d ever heard, and this seminar profoundly influenced her career.
Claudia collaborates with life sciences researchers, developing mathematical models to help them understand relationships and interactions among species. She has two main research areas. First, she works with biologists to create complex networks, or trees, depicting the evolutionary processes connecting multiple species. Her lab develops open-source software to support this work. Her second research area focuses on how soil microbes affect plants. Specific microbes in the soil are connected to observable characteristics in plants. Claudia uses machine learning to pursue her long-term goals of predicting what kinds of plants might grow and thrive in different soils, and how soil microbiomes might respond to environmental change.
Outreach and service are central to Claudia’s work. She has introduced students to data science through her work on FastStats web apps for Wisconsin Fast Plants, and she created the Latinx in Statistics database with the American Statistical Association to encourage networking and diverse speakers at academic events.
“Data science allows us to get knowledge and answers whenever we have data sets that no one human can analyze, either manually or visually, by themselves.”