University at Albany Honors Achla Marathe with 2020 Excellence in Science and Technology Award

Achla Marathe headshot

January 7, 2020

The University at Albany Alumni Association has awarded Achla Marathe, a Professor in the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute, Network Systems Science and Advanced Computing division, and Department of Public Health Sciences, with the 2020 Excellence in Science and Technology Award. For more than 50 years, the Excellence Awards have recognized alumni and friends of the University at Albany who have brought distinction to themselves and the University through their achievements and service. Marathe will be honored for her valuable contributions to science and technology at the Excellence Awards Gala on Saturday, April 25, 2020, in Albany, NY.    

At UVA’s Biocomplexity Institute, Marathe works with a transdisciplinary group of researchers who specialize in building individual-based models and advanced simulation methods to study social processes on large synthetic social networks. These include contagion of behaviors and diseases, emergency planning and response to man-made and natural disasters, cascading failures in infrastructures, among others. Her research has been funded by notable agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Unitaid, a non-profit dedicated to innovation in global health. 

Marathe’s interests broadly lie in the study of human and natural disasters such as pandemics,  hurricanes, and cascading failures in infrastructures through the lens of economics. This viewpoint helps in assessing the impact of such events and provides a path for investment to increase societal resilience and reduce the social, economic and health impact. Disasters highlight two important economic issues: the need to make investments for an event that might not happen, and the role of strategic interactions at various levels, including well-studied problems such as herd immunity, personal welfare versus social welfare, and moral hazard. Her research applies computational social science, network science and individual-based methods to address such issues. 

For well over 20 years, Dr. Marathe has innovated and applied economic analysis that connects micro transactions and scales to macro-economic phenomena,” said Christopher L. Barrett, executive director of the Biocomplexity Institute. 

“Her work has displayed depth, true innovations and practical significance in: radically scalable computational system analytics platform design; very involved multi-scale problems with significant policy importance such as detailed demand-side and aggregate supply-side integration of deregulated power markets; economics of mobile communication systems; individual decision making with differential access to information affecting public-health policy, and the distribution of limited supplies for intervention; and many other significant and useful contributions to our Institute’s sponsors’ needs and the science of micro-to-macro scale-bridging ideas.”

Barrett added, “Her work is interesting, useful, and has been absolutely central to the success of the Biocomplexity Institute and our predecessor labs and institutes over the years. She is one of our most valuable scientists at the Institute, and really is a nearly textbook example of a high quality, truly interdisciplinary scientist. She also is humble, a great team member, and friend.”

Before joining UVA, Marathe was a professor at Virginia Tech and the lead economist and social scientist at the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. Prior to her tenure at Virginia Tech, she worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 10 years, initially as a postdoctoral fellow and then as a technical staff member. Marathe also has served as a consultant at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. She received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Delhi University, India, and both her master’s and doctorate degrees in economics from the University at Albany.

Please join us in congratulating Achla Marathe for this outstanding honor!