analytics lab research team

The Analytics Lab @ OU team is a diverse group of brilliant students, both PhD and MS, from Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) and Data Science and Analytics (DSA), led by Dr. Nicholson to work on a variety of projects relating to the research foci of the lab: optimization, predictive and classification modeling, and metaheuristics.  The majority of the students contribute to projects with application in the burgeoning area of community resilience.  However, the research team is large and diverse and over the years a variety of application areas have been included, e.g. bioinformatics, interactive machine learning, novel approaches for statistical methods in observational studies, and real-time streaming predictive modeling.  The group also reflects a diversity of cultures, languages, and backgrounds — the past and present students come from (in alphabetical order): Brazil, China, France, Iran, Nigeria, Peru, and the United States.

Director: Charles Nicholson, Ph.D.  analytics lab research team: director

Dr. Nicholson is an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the Analytics Lab director.   He holds bachelor degrees in Physics and Mathematics, a Master’s degree in Business, and a PhD in Operations Research from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.  Prior to obtaining an academic position he worked in industry and developed proprietary data analytics solutions for eight corporations across the nation and internationally over 12 years. Projects included a wide variety of predictive and prescriptive analytics for diverse companies representing multi-billion dollar retail, finance, and restaurant industries. An excerpt of successful data-intensive solutions included customer-level behavior prediction, fraudulent activity detection, geographic information systems (GIS) strategic and competitive targeting, and product allocation optimization.

He is currently collaborating on research projects with several groups across the United States including Colorado State University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Texas A&M, University of Oregon, Southern Methodist University, University of North Texas, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Penn State.

Dr. Nicholson serves on the Editorial board of the new Taylor and Francis journal Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure.

For fun, he enjoys backpacking in the mountains, coaching soccer, reading, and CrossFit.


Current Ph.D. students

Weili Zhang, Ph.D. candidate, ISEanalytics lab research team

Weili Zhang completed his Master’s degree in Data Science and Analytics at OU. Currently, he is working as research assistant for Prof.Nicholson and is co-advised by Dr. Naiyu Wang in Civil Engineering.  He conducts research in the areas of mathematical programming, heuristics, network analysis and machine learning. Previously, Weili worked full-time at Schneider Electric  for 2 years and has 4 publications and multiple projects related to simulation modeling and healthcare as undergraduate research assistant at System Engineering Lab of Southeast University. His personal website is

His research interest is in machine learning for resilience analysis of complex networks.

Masters thesis: Optimal Flow Analysis, Prediction and Application

PhD topic: Connectivity Reliability

Vera Bosco, Ph.D. student, ISE

Vera Wendler Bosco started her PhD at OU in Fall 2014. She completed her B. Sc. in Industrial Engineering at the Federal University of Paraná, in Brazil. She worked at ExxonMobil in Brazil for two years before leaving for an exchange program in Mannheim, Germany. Her current research interest is in the application of stochastic methods on ship routing under uncertain weather conditions.

In her spare time, Vera enjoys swimming and reading fictional books – she is always reading something. She speaks Portuguese, English and German, and wants to learn a fourth language.

PhD topic: Stochastic optimization methods for ship routing

Current Masters students

Alexandra Amidon, Masters student, DSAanalytics lab research team

Alexandra Amidon started her Master’s in Data Science and Analytics in the Fall of 2015.  She completed her B.S. in Economics at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and spent the following two years working in the economic consulting and data collection/risk solutions industries. Her current research, in collaboration with a video game company, focuses on classifying and predicting user behavior in order to aid game development.

Alexandra competes in local 5k’s and half marathons and plays the clarinet in the Oklahoma City Symphonic Band.  In her spare time, Alexandra enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and watching Spanish telenovelas.


Alexander Rodríguez Castillo, Masters student, DSAAlex photo 2

Alexander started his Master’s in Data Science and Analytics in the Summer of 2016 as a part of the interdisciplinary Community Resilience CORE Research Lab at OU which is a part of the broader NIST-funded Center of Excellence on Community Resilience. He will be building both mathematical optimization models and predictive models to develop resilience intervention strategies.

He completed his B.Sc. in Mechatronics Engineering at Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria, Peru. During his undergrad, he worked on several predictive analytics projects. In his senior year, he was awarded with a scholarship to spend one year as an exchange student at OU, in which he joined a project at the Systems Realization Laboratory. After graduating, he spent one year in the Maintenance Department of a LNG plant, in which he experimented on the application of prognostics and system health management for some automated devices. Then he got a position on Business Intelligence for a short period before coming to OU.

Alexander likes to engage in a variety of projects to effect social change. In his spare time, he enjoys reading about several kinds of scientific knowledge and also watching soccer on TV.

Emily Grimes, Masters student, DSAEmily Grimes - Analytics Lab student

Emily Grimes graduated from OU with a degree in English Literature and Culture Studies in 2011. After graduation she did freelance work that motivated her to acquire more technical skills. She came back to OU to prepare for a more technical degree. In the meantime she became a project manager at the Digitization Lab at OU’s own Bizzell Libarary. She joined the Data Science and Analytics  program for a Master’s degree in the Spring of 2015. Her background in liberal arts informs her passion for user experience. Her current research is in the emerging field of interactive machine learning which incorporates both user experience and machine learning.

Emily is an active volunteer and advocate for women and minorities in tech. She was recently a reviewer for the IEEE VIS Arts Program, a program that highlights the intersection of data visualization and art, and she facilitates a local Girls Who Code club.

She enjoys a good debate, binging on quality television shows, and cooking.

Megan Snelling, Masters student, ISEAnalytics student: Megan Snelling

Megan Snelling started her Master’s in Industrial and Systems Engineering in the Fall of 2015. In the Spring of 2016, she completed her B.S in Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. Megan previously completed research with the Department of Homeland Security in the area of structuring large-scale problems for simulations used for resource planning.

Her current research focuses on optimization models for community resilience. In particular, she is considering a multiple objective, non-linear and integer programming problem meant to inform decision makers on actions to take to minimize damage (in terms of direct economic loss) and minimize expected population dislocation.  The problem is further constrained by the need to control factors which (without restriction) tend to exacerbate existing inequities in the community associated with socioeconomic levels.  The resilience intervention strategies under study relate to investments in reinforcing and/or retrofitting existing residential, commercial, and government structures within the community.

Stephen Gonzalez, Masters student, DSAProcessed with VSCO with a5 preset

Stephen Gonzalez started his Master’s in Data Science and Analytics in the Summer of 2016, shortly after completing his B.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. He currently works as a Research Assistant at K20 Center, an educational research and development center, to help investigate the impact of Digital Game Based Learning on student engagement, content knowledge, and critical thinking skills. He is also working on an industry project to create a decision algorithm that will optimize call center protocols and maximize profitability.  The optimization model is an integer programming model that will account for uncertainty in the business.

In his free time, Stephen enjoys traveling, reading the books he never got around to during his undergrad, and attending sporting events.


Alex Beene, Masters student, DSAalex-beene-dsa-analytics-lab

Alex holds a BS in Mathematics, as well as an MS in Mathematics from OU. He is a Business Intelligence Analyst for the Oklahoma City Thunder. His research focus, both at work and for the DSA program, is predictive modeling for multiple areas of the business. Prior to his opportunity to work for the Thunder, he worked for Devon Energy and was a teacher and basketball coach.

Alex enjoys spending time with friends and family, working out, reading, and worshiping with Memorial Road Church of Christ.

Co-Advised Students and Post-Docs

Mohammad Tehrani, Ph.D. student, CEES: co-advised with Dr. Naiyu Wang (CEES)

analytics lab research team

Mohammad Hadikhan Tehrani, or Mad, as he is known to his colleagues, started his PhD at OU in Fall 2015 as a part of the the Community Resilience CORE Research Lab — a joint effort between the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science (CEES).  His focus is now on the transportation network and its effects on the community resilience working directly for Professor Naiyu Wang (CEES) and co-advised by Professor Charles Nicholson (ISE).

Mad completed his Master’s degree at Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) in 2013 as a structural engineering. He has worked on nonlinear structural modeling, dynamic analysis, soil-structure interaction, pushover, etc.

MS Thesis: Assessment of Nonlinear Static Analysis Procedures for Asymmetric Plan Tall Buildings Considering Soil-Structure Interaction.

Former Students

Param Tripathi, Masters student, ISE

analytics lab research team

Completion: December 2016

Param Tripathi started his Master’s in Industrial & Systems Engineering, in Fall 2014. He earned his Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from Jaypee University of Engineering & Technology, India. During his Bachelor’s he did research to predict the crop yield of Soybean in Central India by using mathematical modeling. He also developed a novice automatic chain sprocket transmission mechanism as a part of his capstone project.  His current research interest is data analysis for community resilience in order to improve disaster preparedness.

Param loves meeting new people, volunteering and enjoys playing guitar. He is the reigning Mr. International OU and also serves as General Secretary at the International Advisory Council here at OU. Param also likes working on 3D printers and cars in his free time.

MS thesis: Analysis of resilience in US stock markets during natural disasters


Olivia Perret, Masters student, ISE

Completion: May 2015

OP pic

Olivia Perret started her master’s thesis at OU in the fall of 2014. She came to Oklahoma to earn a M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering, while working in parallel on a degree in Mathematics and Modeling in her Engineering School Polytech in Clermont-Ferrand, France. She earned her two-years university diploma in Mathematics and Computer Science. Her research work focuses on developing novel approaches to matched sampling, propensity scores for longitudinal data. Her other academic interest include programming, modeling and statistics.

Olivia already came to the U.S. six years ago as an exchange student, and it made her want to finish her studies in the U.S. She is planning to stay in the U.S. to start working after obtained her two diplomas from OU and Polytech.

She was involved in the Student Association of her department in her Engineering School in 2013 and was in charge of the event’s organization. Olivia enjoys traveling to discover new countries and new cultures. She likes to spend her spare time with family and her friends, going to fitness classes, and watching TV shows.

MS thesis: A novel post-hoc matching procedure using statistical learning methods 

Olivia has accepted an offer as an analyst for Standard and Poor’s — immediately after completion she flew the coop to New York.

Cyril Beyney, Masters student, ISE

CB bio

Completion: December 2015

Cyril Beyney is an ISE M.S. student who began his studies in Fall 2014. He is working in parallel on a degree in Computer Science, Modeling, and Applications at ISIMA in Clermont-Ferrand, France. He earned his two-year university diploma in Technology from the Institute of Technology of Limoges in France. His research work is currently focused on analyzing social media data in relationship to disruptive events such as natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.) in order to help inform decision makers regarding community resilience.  His other research interests include data analytics and web technologies.

He likes American Football that he discovered at OU with the Sooners. He also likes travelling around the world to discover new countries and cultures, and hanging out with his friends.  Cyril is also an avid “couchsurfer” (!

MS thesis: Quantitative analysis of social media sensitivity to natural disasters

Cyril has taken the Lead Data Scientist position at Nerd Kingdom — a game development company!

Leslie Goodwin, Masters student, ISE

Completion: May 2015LG picture

Leslie completed the accelerated Master’s program in ISE. Her research revolves around employing data-analytics to study biological systems. There is a push to create insightful gene regulatory networks from expression data. People are able to better predict how the system will be affected when one gene is targeted by a drug or treatment by utilizing these networks. Therefore, it is important to explore and apply the various methods for optimizing networks on this type of data. In addition to school, Leslie has been active around campus while at OU having served as Vice President of the Dean’s Leadership Council and Historian for the Institute of Industrial Engineers.

MS thesis: Divided neighborhood exploration search for inferring gene regulatory networks

Leslie has completed her studies and has found an amazing job at Deloitte US as a consultant — a job with lots of travel!

Xiaodan Wang, Masters student, ISEdiana wong 2

Completion: May 2015

Xiaodan, or in English, Diana completed her Master’s in ISE in 2015 on research relating to modeling network performance using data analytics with an overall goal of enhancing resilience analysis capabilities.

MS thesis: Towards resilience analysis: An efficient way to evaluate network performance

Diana is pursuing her PhD in Business Administration at the University of Oklahoma.

Oluwafemi Oseni, Masters student, ISE

femi pic

Completion: May 2015

Oluwafemi Oseni, or just “Femi”, as he his known to his friends (and everyone is his friend), successfully completed his Masters degree in ISE in 2015.  His project focus was was in multicommodity network flows and his area of interest is in data analytics for the energy sector.  Femi is currently pursuing opportunities in industry.