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Wireless Snooping on Electric Meters

MIT's Technology Review covers Dr. Wenyuan Xu's research on snooping on electric meters in their article Another Reason for "Smart" Electric Meters.
Researchers from the University of South Carolina discovered that they could read meter signals at a 400-unit housing complex in such detail they could determine that 27 units were unoccupied. And because the meters send out data every 30 seconds, the researchers could infer some residents' daily habits by spotting sudden jumps in electricity usage. In their paper, the researchers wrote that in one unit in the complex, "the owners got up at 7 a.m., left for work at 9 a.m., and returned home around 6 p.m. on Friday."
WISTV has picked up the story: WIS Investigation: students test security of utility's Automatic Meter Reading. You can watch the video online. These research results were published in a paper at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security. You can read the full paper: Neighborhood Watch: Security and Privacy Analysis of Automatic Meter Reading Systems where they provide all the details of this research. Our own USC Times also covers this story in their article Is your utility meter getting personal?.
Lead researcher Wenyuan Xu, a professor in USC’s College of Engineering and Computing, says that much of the focus in the research security community right now is on the next generation of devices, the so-called “smart” meters. Utilities hope in the future they will be able to use these smart meters to match electricity flow to individual houses with overall demand, enabling much more efficient allocation of resources.
The Industrial Safety and Security Source picks it up in Smart Meters Need to Get Smarter. Computerworld: Some smart electricity meters are stupid about privacy. The University main page: White Knight: USC researcher hacks for good.

NSF Funds Mobile Technology for Perioperative Services

Dr. Nathan Huynh and Dr. Jose M Vidal have received $600K from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research on mobile technology for use in hospitals, as part of a $1.4M grant shared with colleagues from Clemson University. The goal of the research is to determine how mobile technology can best be used to improve coordination in a hospital's perioperative services. The researchers will develop and test a mobile app that will include speech recognition, natural language processing, and other artificial intelligence techniques in order to deliver the right information at the right time to hospital staff, and to recommend tasks that should be handled next. Research trials will be carried out at three hospitals: Greenville Memorial Hospital, Palmetto Health Richland in the Columbia area and the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. You can also see Clemson's press release or the official NSF Award page. Proposal Abstract This project proposes to create a framework using a combination of mobile technology, learning systems, data analytics, education, and training to enhance cooperation and coordination of staff within and across perioperative services departments (POS). Perioperative services comprise surgery preparation, operating rooms, post-anesthesia care, sterile processing and a variety of other services, such as radiology and endoscopy. The specific objectives of this project are to: (1) enhance communication and coordination among POS staff to improve the quality of care by gathering and using important workflow milestones and introducing artificial intelligence techniques through the use of a smart-app, (2) analyze workflow data gathered with smart-apps using data analytics to provide intuitive displays of real-time information for frontline staff and a daily performance dashboard for managers, and (3) induce behavioral and cultural change in healthcare systems through training and education. While existing information technology capabilities such as natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and speech recognition technology are promising developments in computing, their uses in health care are limited and thus need to be thoroughly investigated before they can be used in health care effectively. To accomplish these objectives, the research team will work closely with the partnering healthcare organizations, Greenville Hospital System (GHS), Palmetto Health (Palmetto), and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), in developing the tools and models which will be pilot-tested at these organizations by their staff. The developed tools and models will be widely disseminated among health care providers in South Carolina. In addition, the smart-apps and agent-based simulation model will provide the team with a teaching and training tool that can be used in the classroom at Clemson University and the University of South Carolina (USC) to teach students across a variety of fields, such as business, engineering, science and healthcare students about information and workflow management techniques.

Undergraduate Scholarship Winner

Mr. Andrey Gavel has been awarded a 2012 UPE Special Recognition Scholarship Award from Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the Computing Sciences Honor Society. This is a nice honor. It is a national competition held once a year and open to all Computer Science undergraduate and graduate majors. You can view the official list of winners for this year.

Gamecock Computing Symposium Award Winners

Our first Gamecock Computing Research Symposium was a major success. We had over 40 research posters. All who attended had very positive things to say about it and other departments are already thinking about copying us, if they can! If you do not already follow our Twitter feed (also posted on this page, right column) then you might have missed this photo album, taken by Prof. Nelakuditi or this one, by me. Most importantly, we want to congratulate Mr. Jarrell Waggoner and Mr. Nicholas Stiffler for winning the poster awards! Both shown here receiving their awards from Dr. Huhns.

Robots Helping Children with Autism

Laura Boccanfuso, one of our graduate students, is featured on this WISTV news story along with her robot Charlie:
Charlie is short for Child Centered Adaptive Robot for Learning Environments, designed by a USC graduate student to help kids with autism.  "She is designed to promote basic communication skills," said Charlie creator Laura Boccanfuso. "Two of the most important communication skills are imitation and turn taking." Charlie is designed to be handled by kids but sometimes kids play hard, which is why she has some break away features. "We want the robot to just be sitting on a table, and allow the child to explore her, touch the eyes, touch the nose, and the hands and get to know her so she and he feels comfortable interacting with the robot," said Boccanfuso.
Full story at The College of Engineering coverage of this story. medGaget blog coverage. USC News coverage.

Genome3D: Exploring the Genome in a Computer

Prof. Jijun Tang and colleagues at MUSC have received a grant from the NSF for their collaborative research on "Developing a 3D Browser to Explore Genomes". This project builds upon the success of the Genome3D and leverages recent findings on complex spatial genomic models. Exploring genomes through 3D visualization will significantly advance genome research in integrating epigenomic data, studying long range inter- and intra-chromosome interaction, and analyzing structural features of genetic variations. Check it out on the video below.

Digital Image Analysis Research Grant

Together with Prof. David Miller from the Center for Digital Humanities, Prof. Song Wang has been awarded a research grant from National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for their project "PARAGON: Intelligent Digital Collation and Difference Detection." In this project, they will develop new image processing algorithms and open-source software to automate the detailed comparison of scanned images captured under varying circumstances, whether scanned, camera-taken from different heights or angles, rotated, differently lighted, or even slightly warped. This research will substantially reduce the intensive labor that is currently required in the study of print materials and facilitate the digitalization of rare and fragile historical documents. The USC News has an article on the Center for Digital Humanities that mentions this research.

Student Receives Palmetto Pillar Award

We are pleased to announce that Mr. Nicholas Stiffler, a graduate student in Computer Science and Engineering, has won the 2012 Palmetto Pillar Award in the category of Student Achievement. This is a statewide award that is given annually by the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the Information Technology Council (ITC) and honors the best and brightest of the Midlands technology community. Congratulations!

New Faculty: Prof. Matt Thatcher

We are happy to welcome Dr. Matt E. Thatcher our newest Professor. He comes here from the University of Lousville where he was a Professor of Computer Information Systems. Before that, he was an Associate Professor of Management Information Systems at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and an Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems at the University of Arizona. He received his Ph.D. in Information Systems at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. His research interests are in IT value, software patent policy design, IT offshoring, and the social costs of information privacy. His office is in Swearingen 3A58 and he will be teaching 190: Computing in the Modern World and 390: Professional Issues in Computer Science and Engineering this Fall.

Computational Biology Research Grants

Our Computational Biology Research lab, headed by Dr. Valafar, has received two separate research grants for continued support of their work. The first one is for their ongoing project on the "South Carolina IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)", funded by National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)/NIH. The second award comes to Dr. Stephanie Irausquin, a Research Scientist in the lab, in the form of a National Science Foundation fellowship for her project titled "A Novel RDC Analysis Pipeline for Determination of Protein Structure and Dynamics."

52apps: Another Student Startup

52apps is a new company formed by some of our students that is building one new app every week based on users' ideas. They appeared on the local news tonight. Check our their homepage every week to see what new app they built this week, and lend them your support.

Dr. Bakos Receives EPSCoR Award

Dr. Jason Bakos has received a grant from the state EPSCoR office under their Scientific Advocate Network for the purchase of equipment, like the device shown here, to support his research on Power Efficiency Instrumentation for DSP-Based Supercomputing.
Our objective is to construct a general-purpose heterogeneous parallel computer comprised mostly of these DSPs, and to develop the runtime libraries necessary for them to execute existing scientific codes. This would allow for field portable teraflop-class parallel computers without the need to rewrite application software.

New Faculty: Prof. Gabriel Terejanu

We would like to welcome Dr. Gabriel Terejanu who has joined the department as an assistant professor. He comes to us from the University of Texas, Austin where he was a postdoctoral researcher working on Bayesian model validation in the Center for Predictive Engineering and Computational Sciences (PECOS). His research interests are in the area of uncertainty quantification, information fusion, and decision making under uncertainty. He has already moved into office 3A50 and will be teaching CSCE 758: Probabilistic System Analysis in the Fall.

Outstanding Undergraduate Awards

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering has selected the following students for CSE's 2012 Outstanding Senior Awards:
  • USC Outstanding Senior in Computer Engineering: Dustin Brown
  • USC Outstanding Senior in Computer Science: Garret Debruin
  • USC Outstanding Senior in Computer Information Systems: Martin Nenov
  • The South Carolina Society of Professional Engineering (SC SPE) Outstanding Senior in Computer Engineering: Daniel DeCola.
  • The Gintz Award: Eric Randall
Also, this year the following undergraduate students received scholarship awards. Jonathan Kilby, senior, Computer Engineering: Bridging Scholarship, for a semester or a year of study in Japan. Also, a Freeman-ASIA grant, for undergraduates to study in East and Southeast Asia. Also, a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, for undergraduates to study abroad. John Lem, Junior, Computer Science. Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, for undergraduates to study abroad. Brandon Washington, Freshman, Computer Science. Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, for undergraduates to study abroad. Congratulations to all of you! Information on how to apply the travel scholarships can be found in our study abroad website

Grier wins Goldwater Scholarship

We would like to congratulate Mr. Daniel Grier, a junior in Computer Science and Math, on winning the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship to graduate school! This marks the twentieth consecutive year that USC has had one or more Goldwater Scholars. A total of 41 Goldwater Scholarships have been won by USC students since 1990. William "Cole" Franks, Daniel Grier, and Gerry Koons have been named 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars. The 282 Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 mathematics, science, and engineering students, nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The one and two year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded nationally to sophomores and juniors pursuing bachelors’ degrees in natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering and intending to pursue a career in research and/or college-level teaching: virtually all the scholars intend to obtain a PhD in their respective fields. The University, as well as all other institutions of higher education, may only nominate four students for this award. Grier is a junior with a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science, and is a member of the South Carolina Honors College. A National Merit Scholar, he is the recipient of both the Lieber and Palmetto Scholarships, as well as the Wilson Scholarship, given by the department of Computer Science and Engineering for undergraduate research. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, he is also the recipient of the Computer Research Association (CRA) Undergraduate Research Award. His current research includes work with Dr. Stephen Fenner in USC’s Computer Science and Engineering Department on two-player mathematical strategy games played over partially ordered sets. Grier is currently participating in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program in Hungary. He is a member of Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor society, a math tutor at Dreher High School, and plays on the International Men’s Soccer Club Team at USC. Grier plans to complete a PhD in Mathematics and conduct research in discrete mathematics while teaching at the university level. Also see the Daily Gamecock article.

CloudShouts: Another Student Startup

Rishi Patel, a CIS major, along with two other USC students, Ian Castrovinci and Dennis Lopez, have just released CloudShouts. CloudShouts is an iphone, and soon to be Android, app that lets you post messages, photos, and have conversations with other people in the same geographic "cloud". Right now there is a USC cloud, along with 10 other University clouds along the Eastern seaboard. So, go download the free iphone app. From their about page: "CloudShouts was founded by three University of South Carolina students that noticed inefficiencies within their college community. Inspired by foursquare and Localmind, the team strives to solve these inefficiencies by designing their own community-sharing platform. The future of communication is changing fast, and the CloudShouts team is building it."