STEM Shoutout: Dr. Melanie Moses

Dr. Melanie Moses named a 2018 Women in STEM award winner

Dr. Melanie Moses, a professor in UNM Computer Science with a secondary appointment in the UNM Department of Biology, has been named 2018 Women in STEM award winner for her research on swarms along with Dr. Judy Cannon, an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology who has a secondary appointment in the Department of Pathology.

There are a wide variety of swarms in the world, such as cells, ants, and robots. Though these systems are different, their processes to achieve common goals are very similar. All of them work collectively without a hierarchy, Moses said, to search for things within an environment.

The goals of this research are to understand how swarms form and work together as a group to build an efficient system. Moses uses programmable swarm robotics to develop mathematics to describe how systems like this work.

Moses leads groups of students that conduct research concerning swarm robotics and how their programmed rules can look random in a real-world environment. She guides the students with connecting their research to other students’ research within the lab.

“My role is to provide the connections made in the common framework, so that the students can talk to each other and learn from each other,” Moses said, “I think that this cross pollination is important for coming up with new ideas and advancing the research.”

Moses hopes that this research will help to create a mathematical construct to describe how complex systems search in real environments.