Ashley Valentina Schwartz is a current computational science Ph.D. student with a specialization in applied mathematics and developmental toxicology. She is under the primary advisement of Dr. Uduak George (SDSU Mathematics), secondary advisement of Dr. Pierre Baldi (UCI Computer Science), and in close collaboration with Dr. Karilyn Sant (SDSU Toxicology). She is an Association for Computing and Machinery Computational and Data Science Fellow under the special interest group for high-performance computing. Her research interests include using mathematical and computational tools to describe biological processes related to human health. She is passionate about environmental and developmental toxicology and dedicates her time to developing models to inform the way environmental pollutants affect human development.

Research Advisor(s)

Uduak George and Pierre Baldi

Research Abstract

It is known the environment contains a plethora of pollutants and chemicals that have harmful effects on not only the environment but humans as well. Understanding the way these chemicals interact with the developmental process is essential to bettering environmental practices and combating the onset of disease from these chemicals. My research is centered around building mathematical and computational tools to describe the way toxicants interact with the developmental process. Zebrafish are a widely used vertebrate model for embryonic development. Working closely with the Sant Toxicology Lab at SDSU, we can run controlled experiments optimized for computational and mathematical model building. Thus far, we have been able to determine the impact of pollutants on nutrient absorption, overall growth, and the increase in developmental deformities using image analyses of zebrafish, ordinary differential equation model development, and complex network models. Currently, we are working to determine the genes commonly expressed in a variety of pharmacological modification studies that will aid in the development of a multi-scale model for pancreas development in zebrafish.