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Graduate Student Day Winners

Once again the department was very successful at Graduate Student Day. We had one first place winner, Jarrell Waggoner, and two second place winners Laura Boccanfuso and Ishtiaq Rouf. Congratulations to both. For the full story see here or the links below.

Dr. Tong Receives NSF Career Award

Dr. Yan Tong, a Computer Science and Engineering assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, College of Engineering and Computing, has received the National Science Foundation's CAREER award. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is NSF's most prestigious award in support of the early career-development activities of junior faculty. The award will support her research on facial recognition, that is, on developing algorithms that can detect whether a person in a video is smiling, angry, confused, etc. This work is innovative in that it blends both visual and auditory information so the software uses both what it sees and what it hears in the video to determine how the person's face looks like. In more detail:
This project develops a unified multimodal and multialgorithm fusion framework to recognize facial action units such as “lip corner raiser” and “lips apart”, which describe complex and rich facial behaviors. This framework systematically captures the inherent interactions between the visual and audio channels in a global context of human perception of facial behavior. Advanced machine learning techniques are developed to integrate these relationships together with uncertainties associated with various visual and audio measurements in the fusion framework to achieve a robust and accurate understanding of facial activity. It is these coordinated and consistent interactions that produce a meaningful facial display. The basic research in this unified fusion framework can foster advanced computer vision and machine learning technologies with applications across a wide range of fields varying from entertainment to psychiatry to human-computer interaction. An integration of research and education promotes cutting-edge training on human-computer interactions to K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students, especially encourages the participation of women in engineering and computing.
The NSF CAREER program recognizes and supports the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. CAREER awardees are selected on the basis of creative career-development plans that effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their institution and department.

Dr. Buell on Voting Machines

Dr. Buell's research on voting machines is featured in this article from the Myrtle Beach Online (part 2).
It wasn’t hard to jog the memory of Duncan Buell, a computer science professor at USC and one of the report’s authors, on Friday, more than three months after the report was released. Buell, a voting machine expert, said that ”Horry County has the messiest of the data, perhaps, in the entire state.“
See also Dr. Buell's article Patriocracy Overlooks Internet Voting Security Concerns.

Dr. Vidal Receives NSF Grant Award

Dr. Barry Markovsky (Sociology) and Dr. Jose M Vidal have received and NSF award for their research project "Web-based Tools for Developing and Accessing Sociological Theory." This project brings together researchers from the Sociology department and the Computer Science and Engineering department in order to design, implement and test a web-based system for developing, improving and disseminating sociological theories across all areas of the discipline. “I see it as a cross between stackoverflow and the wikipedia, but targeted towards scientists” said Dr. Vidal. “Both of those sites are showing us how an online community can be formed and function successfully to aggregate the knowledge of many individuals. However, they are not without their drawbacks: stackoverflow enforces a very strick question-and-answers format, while the wikipedia actively discourages scientists from contributing on the topics they have the most expertise (their own research). Our system will try to overcome these limitations.” The researchers hope to build a system what will facilitate the development of improved Sociological, and later scientific, theories using proven incentives and knowledge aggregation methods.

Jonathan Kilby wins Bridging Scholarship

Third year Computer Science and Engineering student Jonathan Kilby was recently awarded one of 20 Bridging Scholarships for Study Abroad in Japan. The Bridging Scholarship is a national award that offers $2500 for a semester-long study program or $4000 for a full academic year, for undergraduate students. It is coordinated by the Association of Teachers of Japanese and funded by private foundations and major U.S. corporations. Jonathan’s interest in Japanese culture and his work toward a Japanese minor influenced his decision to apply for the scholarship, and his strong application helped him beat out a large number of other applicants. Next spring, Jonathan will participate in the USC Global Exchange program to Kansai University in Osaka, Japan, where he will enhance his Japanese skills by taking language and culture classes. He hopes to intern with Sony at one of their Japanese facilities, paving the way for his ultimate goal, to one day live and work in Japan. For more information about the Bridging Scholarship for Study Abroad in Japan, please visit http://www.aatj.org/atj/studyabroad/scholarships.html. To find out more about the USC Global Exchange to Kansai University or about USC education abroad opportunities in general, please visit www.studyabroad.sc.edu.

Dr. Wang Receives Air Force Research Award

Dr. Song Wang has been awarded a research grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR/DOD) for his project "Metallic Material Image Segmentation by using 3D Grain Structure Consistency and Intra/Inter-Grain Model Information." The major goal of this project is to develop new effective image-processing algorithms and software tools to automatically segment microscopic images of metallic materials to accurately extract their 3D grain and subgrain structures, which determine mechanical and other important properties of the materials. On the right are a slice of a 3D microscopy polycrystalline titanium grain image and its segmentation result.

Desperate Fishwives: An Educational Game

The Free Times newspaper has an article on Desperate Fishwives, an educational game being developed by Dr. Buell, Dr. Heidi Rae Cooley from Media Arts, and their students. The game aims to teach high school and college students the realities of life in a 17th Century English village by having the player take on the role of various village characters.
John Hodgson, a USC computer science graduate student writing the game’s code, takes things a step further, explaining how immersion in an experiential environment could potentially prove more effective than more traditional classroom approaches. “For students who have never lived in a 17th century English village, which is all of them, how will they know what that experience was like? Well, they can have a teacher tell them, and that might convince some; they’ll be able to regurgitate it on a test. Or we can create an experience about what it might have been like. By playing the game they learn the rules — what’s acceptable, what’s not, what people did what things. Nothing is actually told to them, but because of the way the game is designed they have to accept that reality.”
Update: The USC news also has an article on this research.

Mussels or Wireless Sensors?

Dr. Xu, working with Dr. Helmuth from the Biology department, spent her Summer on a beach in Oregon testing wireless sensors that would monitor environnemental conditions. The research is being coverend in local news:
Dr. Xu is developing a sensor that looks like a Mussel that can be deployed and will relay information in realtime. The field test is designed to see how the current sensor behaves under real conditions and what changes need to be made to make it successful. If the sensor can be developed, researchers will have access to realtime information and will be able to see how changes in the environment are impacting the marine organisms. This could unlock a treasure trove of information for researchers worldwide. Notice that the sensor is in the shape and color of a Mussel. It is attached to the Mussel bed by an epoxy that hopefully will keep the sensor intact through breaking waves as the tide advances.
Update: This work is now funded by an NSF grant titled "Intertidal Sensor Networks for Climate Change Studies in Intertidal Ecosystems." This is what the hardware looks like:  
The hardware
 

Automatic Tagging of Photos Taken with Smartphones

Our graduate student Chuan Qin and Prof. Srihari Nelakuditi in collaboration with Systems and Networking Research Group at Duke University developed a system called TagSense for tagging photos taken with smartphones. TagSense leverages multiple sensors on smartphones carried by people to identify them in a picture and tag it with their names and activities. Articles about TagSense appeared in media outlets such as Popular Science. Visit here for more information on TagSense.

SC Education Lottery Athlete of the Week

The College of Engineering and Computing congratulates Alex Burrell on being named the SC Education Lottery Athlete of the Week. Alex is a member of the Gamecock Baseball team, #33 Left-handed pitcher, who recently graduated this May. In his CSCE 492 project he was part of a team programming an Epidemiological Calculator for the iPhone/iPad which is meant to help researchers in the field perform calculations that they would otherwise need to do by hand. Keep an eye out for #33 at the College World Series in Omaha starting on June 18!