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Bruno Jedynak: Building Connections in Mathematical Research
Bruno Jedynak: Building Connections in Mathematical Research

As one of the professors hired under the Massiah Foundation’s gift, Dr. Bruno Jedynak brings 12 years of research experience at Johns Hopkins University to the Fariborz Maseeh Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Portland State University.  Dr. Jedynak has a broad range of interests when it comes to mathematics and research: from machine learning to biostatistics to computational neurobiology. Collaboration and building connections are woven throughout his work.

“Mathematicians can now have a strong impact on medical sciences. It is the best of all times with torrents of medical data becoming available” says Dr. Jedynak. With OHSU so close to PSU, Dr. Jedynak sees possibilities for collaborations. He recently applied for a grant with Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, directory of the Layton Aging & Alzheimer’s Disease Center, to analyze data about Alzheimer’s patients in a radically new way.  ``We plan to develop templates of disease progression allowing for modeling individual trajectories of aging in health and in disease”.

Another aspect of Dr. Jedynak’s research involves a twist on the game 20 questions, which he presented at a January 2015 Maseeh Mathematics and Statistics Colloquium. Instead of the normal questions/answers one would use to get a yes or no answer and a step closer to solving the mystery, questions indexed by arbitrary sets and ambiguous answers are used. This twist brings up what Dr. Jedynak calls a “theory of perception.” How does this game apply to the functioning of the brain? How does the brain know to fill in the things we cannot see or “organize the things that are ambiguous” in our perception? According to Dr. Jedynak, the evolution in our brain function implies that “we must be using optimal strategies under biological constraints to select the right information.”

Talking with Dr. Jedynak, his passion for mathematics and medical applications is evident. His passion for Portland State is equally visible. Since joining the faculty in August, he has begun searching for collaborators among students, faculty, and other departments to help increase PSU’s profile in new directions. He wants to develop initiatives and projects that help undergraduate and doctoral students alike. To put his prior research experiences to good use here, he would like to help Ph.D. students secure more external funding to allow them to focus on research and breakthroughs in their given fields.

As a new resident to Portland, Dr. Jedynak says it reminds him of his family’s country house in the Alps. “I like the trees, the forest, the mountains.” On most days, you will find him riding his bike from his office for an after lunch promenade.