Carnegie Mellon University

Portrait of Dan DeBlasio

October 25, 2023

New Faculty: Dan DeBlasio

By Adam Kohlhaas

Dan DeBlasio is a researcher and educator in applied machine learning for computational biology, specializing in algorithm configuration and its applications. He joined the Computational Biology Department (CBD) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) from the University of Texas at El Paso. Born and raised in Florida, DeBlasio completed both his bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science at the University of Central Florida (UCF), where he established an early passion for computational biology. He later earned his Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Arizona and completed a Lane Fellowship and postdoctoral research at CMU.

Throughout his career, DeBlasio has consistently demonstrated his commitment to advancing the field of applied machine learning. His primary research centers on the algorithm configuration problem; that is, automatically making parameter choices for users of existing scientific tools. He strives to enhance existing machine learning tools with minimal user input and has made significant contributions to multiple sequence alignment and assembly techniques, showcasing his dedication to improving computational methods in biology. Additionally, DeBlasio has engaged in collaborative projects involving hyper- and multispectral image analysis for space domain awareness.

As an educator, DeBlasio understands the challenges of research communication and emphasizes the importance of finding a balance between simplifying complex concepts for approachability and introducing novel, challenging ideas.

“I think it's really about figuring out the audience and meeting them where they are,” DeBlasio says. “I think this is one of the things that makes communicating about computational biology both challenging and approachable.”

He plans to teach foundational courses in the department, including "Intro to Computational Biology," "Algorithms and Advanced Data Structures," and "Essential Mathematics and Statistics for Scientists."

DeBlasio said that CBD provides an ideal environment to leverage his computer science background while collaborating with a broader set of colleagues. He values the unique focus and collaborative atmosphere within the department, which aligns with his interdisciplinary interests.

Outside work, DeBlasio maintains a strong interest in college sports and is a particularly avid fan of UCF sports teams. He also likes live music and homebrewing. DeBlasio played the sousaphone all the way through college and enjoys meeting up with his fellow sousaphone players when he visits Orlando.