Faculty-student collaborative projects

Cross-disciplinary student researchers from computer science, teacher education, and mechanical engineering won Honorable Mention for Engineering, Computer, and Mathematical Sciences at the 19th Annual Student Scholarship Exposition held in April. Their project is "Robots as Social Agents: Multidisciplinary Investigations toward Meeting Multifaceted Needs of Children with Autism." From left are Shashwati Ramteke, Mark Sheehan, President Joanne Glasser, Joseph Kearney, Supriya Thota (holding certificate), Aniket Karmarkar, and Sunnihith Bojedla. Other student researchers for this project include Angela Lee, Samantha Gibbert, and Curt Boirum.

Additional images

August 10, 2011

The Department of Computer Science and Information Systems believes that students should be actively involved in faculty research projects. Progress for some of the department’s ongoing projects is listed below.

Collaborating with Cat

Dr. Christos Nikolopoulos, Meredith Cler ’07, Gabriel Hart ’06, and James Mason MS ’06 were co-inventors of a patent with Caterpillar Inc. (U.S. Patent No. 7,805,421) for a “Method and System for Reducing a Data Set.” It was developed while working on a research grant from Caterpillar on machine learning based models for medical risk stratification and identification of lifestyle changes that decrease health risks. The models are used by Caterpillar’s Healthy Balance(R) health promotion program.

Web research projects

Dr. Jiang-bo Liu has supervised and worked on a research project, “Web Security Vulnerability Analysis using Network and Information Security Tools,” with Krishna Kant Tiwari MS ’10, and another research project, “A Web-based Mapping for Visual Display of Business Geographic Information,” with Kiran Kumar Vallabhaneni MS ’10. The results of both projects have been prepared to present at international conferences.

Redesigning for the Smithsonian

Dr. Steven Dolins worked with seven students, Mario Campos ’11, Zach Caschetta ’11, Patrick Fontillas ’11, Joseph Kearney ’11, Michael Koeber ’11, Evan Waters ’11, and Michael Webster ’12, who were enrolled in the 2010-2011 capstone on a project for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s (STRI) Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS). They are redesigning the CTFS database and user interface. The students working on the user interface are working with Anudeep Singh MS ’09 (see alumnus profile). Singh is working on the CTFS database as well as other biological databases, e.g., a database to store insect data, for STRI.

Last year’s capstone project students, Troy Earley ’10, Matt Gihring ’11, and Krzysztof Mulica ’10, presented “Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Data Mapping and Analytics” at the 2010 18th Annual Student Scholarship Exposition. Their project was to develop software to compute mortality and to display contour maps for the geographic areas where data is collected, called plots.

Integrating data on world’s trees

Dr. Dolins finished work in December 2010 on the Botanical Information and Ecology Network (BIEN) grant, which is funded by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. The goal of the project was to integrate herbarium and plot data to address fundamental issues in plant ecology and global change biology. Many students worked on this database project, which integrated data about approximately 17 million trees from around the world.

The first team consisted of students in the 2008-2009 capstone project: Andrew Becker ’09, William Gosewehr ’09, Andrew Hull ’09, and Matthew Jonas ’09. Then, a set of graduate students worked on the project during the summer/fall of 2009, including Sandeep Nalam ’10, Dhaval Shah ’09, Mark Sheehan ’08, MS ’11, Anudeep Singh MS ’09, Prachi Tiwari MS ’10, and Harika Vellanki. During the summer of 2010, three more graduate students, Pavithra Balasubramanian MS ’11, Sneha Dhanya MS ’11, and Deepika Kanigicherla ’11, wrote R programs to calculate ranges for species and distances of trees from their national borders.

Bradley University collaborated on this grant with several universities including the University of Arizona and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and institutions such as the New York Botanical Garden and the Missouri Botanical Garden. This work has been cited and acknowledged in several publications. Dr. Dolins expresses his appreciation for all four undergraduate and nine graduate students who worked on this project, and he apologizes if he failed to acknowledge someone who worked on the project.

Collaborating with ME on shock absorbers

Dr. Alex Uskov is working with Tony Giardino ’11, Aniket Karmarkar ’11, Brian Levy ’11, and the Department of Mechanical Engineering on a simulator for shock absorbers for their senior capstone project. The objective of the project is to design and build software to predict effectiveness of shock absorbers in different shim permutations.

The ME team is working on testing different shim configurations and creating a model for predicting shock absorber response based on the selected shim configuration. The CS team is working on creating an ASP.NET web application that will allow clients to select a set of shims and view the predicted shock absorber response, as well as recommend a set of shims based on the desired shock absorber response.

Robots and autism project wins first place at 2010 Expo

Dr. Nikolopoulos has continued working with Dr. Deitra Kuester of the Department of Teacher Education on the “Socially Assistive Robots and Autism Project.” Robots act as a human substitute in teaching social skills to students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The ultimate goal is to use the robots to convey a variety of social skills, including initiating communication, reciprocating conversation, or expressing wants and needs.

Two CS students who worked on this project, Mark Sheehan ’08, MS ’11 and Sneha Dhanya MS ’11, won first place for the engineering, computer, and mathematical sciences graduate division at the 18th Annual Student Scholarship Exposition held at Bradley in April 2010. Sheehan was also awarded funding by the Office of Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development to travel to the Annual CEC 2010 Convention and Expo in Nashville where he presented the research paper “Robots, Autism and Social Skills: An Innovative Process.”

This student and faculty research collaboration also resulted in the following publications:

  • Nikolopoulos, C., Kuester, D., Sheehan, M., Sneeha, D., Herring, W., Becker, A., Bogart, L. Socially assistive robots and autism. Journal of Solid State Phenomena, 166-167, 315-320, September 2010.
  • Nikolopoulos, C., Kuester, D.A., Sheehan, M., Dhanya, S., Herring, W., Becker, A., Bogart, L. SAR and Autism. Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social-Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering. New York, NY: Springer. December 2010.

5 CS&IS faculty, 15 students enter 19th Student Scholarship Expo

Congratulations to all of the CS&IS students who participated in BU’s 19th Annual Student Scholarship Exposition, which was held April 15. The Department of CS&IS had six entries, which included five CS&IS faculty advisers and more than 15 students. Thanks to Dr. Vladimir Uskov, who served as a judge.

In the 2011 Student Expo, nine student researchers and two faculty advisers won the honorable mention award in the engineering, computer, and mathematical sciences area of knowledge for their project “Robots as Social Agents: Multidisciplinary Investigations toward Meeting Multifaceted Needs of Children with Autism.” Dr. Christos Nikolopoulos, CS&IS professor, and Dr. Deitra A. Kuester, Department of Teacher Education assistant professor, served as faculty advisers. CS&IS graduate students Shashwati Ramteke ’12, Supriya Thota MS ’11, Sunnihith Bojedla ’12, and Mark Sheehan ’08, MS ’11; CS&IS undergraduates Aniket Karmarkar ’11 and Joseph Kearney ’11; mechanical engineering graduate student Curt Boirum ’09, MS ’12; educational counseling graduate student Angela Lee ’07, MS ’12; and special and elementary education undergraduate Samantha Gibbert ’13 all worked on the project.

Congratulations to Mike Bowen MS ’12, who is a computer science graduate student, and his faculty adviser Dr. Nicholas Stover from the Department of Biology. Bowen won the President Award for Graduate Student Research at the 19th Annual Student Scholarship Exposition. The title of his research and development project is “Tetrahymena Genome Database, Ciliate.org.” This work started as a senior capstone project in 2007-2008 with Eric Chelmecki ’08 and Chris Smith ’08 building the initial prototype; Tyler Hyndman ’09, Kwame Osafo ’09, Ravinder Punia MS ’10, Anudeep Singh ’MS 09, and Rick Velde ’09 continued the work in 2008-2009. However, the current implementation bears little resemblance to the first prototypes. Alumnus Ravinder Punia MS ’10 developed a unique design for the tetrahymena wiki in 2009-2010, and he transitioned his work to Mike Bowen. This work is an important contribution to the scientists working on the tetrahymena organism, and it’s being funded by the National Science Foundation. Since this project’s inception, Dr. Alex Uskov has served as the computer science faculty adviser. For more information, see http://www.bradley.edu/inthespotlight/story/?id=112662.

Master’s theses

Dr. Dolins advised Sneha Dhanya MS ’11 on her master’s thesis, “A computer method for analyzing hospital inpatient data,” which she defended in April 2011. The goal of this project is to define a generalized, repeatable method for understanding health care costs by analyzing the Nationwide Inpatient Sample data. The method will combine reporting and data mining techniques. The researchers are trying to understand what factors influence expenses by ICD9 codes; patient demographics such as gender, race, and age; and hospital demographics such as location, type of institution, and size of institution by using the defined method.

Dr. Young Park advised Mark Sheehan’s master’s thesis, “Building a personalized student grade prediction system,” which he defended in April 2011. Sheehan’s thesis research is about building a software tool called personalized Grade Prediction Advisor (pGPA), which provides individual students with personalized grade predictions. The pGPA system utilizes state-of-the-art Recommender Systems technology (successfully being used by companies such as Amazon and Netflix) and was developed by applying modern software engineering methods.

No previous work has applied recommender technology to the education domain to build prediction systems like pGPA. It is a totally new and original innovation, which opens up a new research and development area concerning performance (rather than preference) prediction. A software tool like pGPA can be used as personalized guidance to help students with their academic success, and thus has commercial potential. Sheehan and Dr. Park have identified many important issues and possible solutions with regard to future research, and they plan to work on commercial development of the pGPA.