Tandy Warnow

Professor, Computer Science

Research Program: Cancer Measurement Technology and Data Science
Strategic Theme: Computational Biology & Engineering

Tandy Warnow’s research combines mathematics, computer science, probability, and statistics, in order to develop algorithms with improved accuracy for large-scale and complex estimation problems in computing evolutionary trees (also known as phylogenies) on any kind of data. Warnow has active research projects in phylogenomics (genome-scale species tree estimation), multiple sequence alignment, and metagenomics. She is interested in statistical inference and NP-hard optimization problems for large datasets where novel algorithms are needed to address heterogeneity and reduce computational requirements.

Warnow is the Grainger Distinguished Chair of Engineering and the Co-Chief Scientist, the C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she is also an affiliate in Mathematics, Statistics, Bioengineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Animal Biology, Entomology, and Plant Biology. She received her PhD in Mathematics at UC Berkeley and did postdoctoral training with Simon Tavar√© and Michael Waterman at USC. Her research combines computer science, statistics, and discrete mathematics, focusing on developing improved models and algorithms for reconstructing complex and large-scale evolutionary histories in biology.   She has published more than 160 papers and has been recognized with a number of awards. She received the NSF Young Investigator Award (1994), the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Award (1996), a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship (2006), and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2011). She was elected a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in 2015 and of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) in 2017. She was the lead NSF program officer for BigData (2012-2013) and chaired the BioData Management and Analysis (BDMA) study section at NIH (2010-2012). Tandy was also a member of the Big Data Senior Steering Group of NITRD subcommittee of the National Technology Council (coordinating federal agencies), 2012-2013.