talk: Big Microbiome Data, 10am Tue May 2, UMBC

Information Systems Eminent Scholar Talk

Big Microbiome Data

Xiaohua Hu, Drexel University

10:00am Tuesday, 2 May 2017, ITE 459, UMBC

We know little about the microbial world. Microbiome sequencing (i.e., metagenome, 16s rRNA) extracts DNA directly from a microbial environment without culturing any species. Recently, huge amount of data are generated from many micorbiome projects such as Human Microbiome Project (HMP), Metagenomics of the Human Intestinal Tract (MetaHIT), et al. Analyzing these data will help us to better understand the function and structure of microbial community of human body, earth and other environmental eco-systems. However, the huge data volume, the complexity of microbial community and the intricate data properties have created a lot of opportunities and challenges for data analysis and mining. For example, it is estimate that in the microbial eco- system of human gut, there are about 1000 kinds of bacteria with ten billion bacteria and more than four million genes in more than 6000 orthologous gene family. The challenges are due to the complex properties of microbiome: large-scale, complicated, diversity, correlation, composition, hierarchy, incompleteness etc.

Current microbiomes data analysis methods seldom consider these data properties and often make some assumptions such as linear, Euclidean space, metric-space, continue data type, which conflict with the true data properties. For example, some similarities are non-metric because the prevalent existence of some species; and the interactions among species and environment are complex in high order. Thus it is urgent to develop novel computational methods to overcome these assumptions and consider the microbiome data properties in the analysis procedure.  In this talk, we will discuss some computational methods to analyze and visualize microbiome big data. Our studies are focusing on 1) novel machine learning and computational technologies for dimension reduction and visualization of microbiome data based on non-Euclidean spaces (manifold learning) to discover nonlinear intrinsic features and patterns in these data to overcome the linear assumptions, 2) novel statistical methods for variable selection in microbiome data by integrating group information among variables.

Xiaohua Tony Hu is a full professor and the founding director of the data mining and bioinformatics lab at the College of Computing and Informatics. He is also serving as the founding Co-Director of the NSF Center on Visual and Decision Informatics, IEEE Computer Society Bioinformatics and Biomedicine Steering Committee Chair, and IEEE Computer Society Big Data Steering Committee Chair. He joined Drexel University in 2002. He founded the International Journal of Data Mining and Bioinformatics, the IEEE International Conference on Big Data and the IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedicine. In 2001, he founded the DMW Software in Silicon Valley, California. He received many awards, including NSF CAREER Award and IEEE Data Mining Outstanding Service Award.  Tony’s current research interests are in data/text/web mining, big data, bioinformatics, information retrieval and information extraction, social network analysis, healthcare informatics, rough set theory and application. He has published more than 270 peer-reviewed research papers in various journals, conferences and books He has obtained more than US$8.5 million research grants in the past ten years as PI or Co-PI. He has graduated 19 Ph.D. students from 2006 to 2017 and is currently supervising nine Ph.D. students.

talk: Practical Introduction to Penetration Testing , 12pm 4/28, ITE227, UMBC

The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab presents

A Practical Introduction to Penetration Testing

Dr. Arno Wacker
University of Kassel, Germany
and UMBC 2017

12:00noon Friday, 28 April 2017, ITE 227, UMBC

While many students learn the theoretical concepts of cybersecurity and cryptology at universities, their exposure to real life systems and the application of learned theoretical foundations in the real world is usually limited. Additionally, most students and sometimes even students of cybersecurity often deal with cybersecurity threats on a very abstract level, thereby being unaware that these threats are not abstract but real for everyone, including for themselves.

Therefore, this talk intends to raise the awareness about real cybersecurity threats for everyone by demonstrating live the process of penetration testing a system. I will show live how an attacker can gain control over a victim’s PC in a matter of seconds, and how this attack can be prevented. To do so, several techniques and tools will be used, including breaking a WPA-protected wireless network, defeating SSL/TLS encryption, and obtaining a reverse shell with system rights on the victim’s computer.

By experiencing these attacks in a simulated penetration test, we can gain a deeper understanding of the theoretical foundations and their implications for real-life scenarios. With this knowledge, the attack vectors can be mitigated to a bare minimum. In many cases, the cybersecurity-aware usage of IT systems is already countering many real threats.

Prof. Dr. Arno Wacker is an assistant professor with the University of Kassel in Germany and the head of the research group Applied Information Security (AIS). Currently, he is a visiting assistant professor at UMBC teaching the network security class. He is also the lead of the open source project CrypTool 2  and a member of the steering group of MysteryTwister C3 . His main research interests are modern security protocols for decentralized distributed systems, computerized cryptanalysis of classical ciphers, and cybersecurity awareness. At the University of Kassel, he teaches classes about cryptology and cybersecurity. Additionally, he regularly offers cryptology workshops for students at local schools and gives talks about penetration testing for companies. Email: <>

Host: Alan T. Sherman,

talk: Human-Like Strategies for Language-Endowed Intelligent Agents, 11am Fri 4/48, UMBC

The UMBC Center for Hybrid Multicore Productivity Research (CHMPR)
is pleased to present as part of our distinguished lecture series

Human-Like Strategies for Language-Endowed Intelligent Agents

Dr. Sergei Nirenburg
Professor of Cognitive Science
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

11:00am Friday, 28 April 2017, ITE 325b


Artificial intelligent agents functioning in human-agent teams must correctly interpret perceptual input and make appropriate decisions about their actions. These are arguably the two central problems in computational cognitive modeling. The RPI LEIA Lab builds language-endowed intelligent agents that extract meaning of text and dialog and use the results together with input from other perception modes, a long-term belief repository, rich models of the world and of other agents, and a model of the interaction situation to make decisions about actions. Specific phenomena we currently concentrate on include incrementality, treatment of unexpected input and non-literal language (e.g., metaphor), analysis of agent biases and “mindreading,” and deliberate concept learning. All these studies are characterized by our belief in the ultimate utility of building causal models of agent capabilities that are inspired by human strategies in language processing and decision-making that go beyond analogical reasoning. In this talk I will give an overview of our recent work in the above areas.

Sergei Nirenburg is Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He also serves as Head of the Department of Cognitive Science. He has worked in the areas of cognitive science, artificial intelligence and natural language processing for over 35 years, leading R&D teams of up to 80. Dr. Nirenburg’s professional interests include developing computational models of human cognitive capabilities and implementing them in computer models of societies of human and computer agents, continuing development of the theory of ontological semantics, and the acquisition and management of knowledge about the world and about language. Academic R&D teams under Dr. Nirenburg’s leadership have implemented a variety of proof-of-concept and prototype application systems for cognitive modeling, intelligent tutoring and a variety of NLP tasks (machine translation, question answering, text summarization, information extraction, computational field linguistics, knowledge elicitation and learning). Dr. Nirenburg has written two and edited five books and published over 200 scholarly articles in journals and peer-reviewed conference proceedings.

UMBC CyberDawgs top 2017 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

The UMBC Cyber Defense Team took first place at the 2017 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition held in San Antonio, Texas this past weekend. The team defeated nine other regional winners from across the country in a contest to protect their networks from cyber attacks and threats efficiently and effectively.

“We are as excited about the national cyber defense competition as we are about an NCAA athletic competition,” says UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski. “UMBC is developing brainpower to protect our nation and build the economy in the Baltimore region. Our partnerships with the Department of Defense, NSA, the Naval Academy, NIST, and dozens of cyber companies at bwtech@UMBC and beyond expose students to authentic problems and allow them to immediately provide value to government and business employers. Our campus is an ecosystem for cybersecurity talent development.”

2017 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition trophy
2017 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition trophy

Cyber Dawgs’ faculty advisor Charles Nicholas, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, calls the win “my proudest moment at UMBC.” He explains that the competition puts the team in a realistic situation that requires them to use resources and rely on their colleagues and teammates in challenging situations. During 14 hours of competition over two days, the teams are not able to interact with their coaches. Eight students used a dozen pieces of equipment throughout the tournament to keep the services on their network accessible and make sure that the systems are not brought down by hacks or cyber attacks.

“We are absolutely ecstatic with our win at Nationals. We have worked very hard to be the first team from the Mid-Atlantic region to win nationals,” said Christian Beam ‘18, computer science. “I am filled with pride to be a part of such an amazing team, and we are looking forward to returning to compete at the 2018 Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition!”

Leading up to the national and regional tournaments, the team spent hours training, studying, and reviewing scenarios that they might encounter during the competition. They prepared and practiced counterattacks to combat attacks from the other teams.

In early April, the Cyber Dawgs placed first in the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, and solidified their spot in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. The Cyber Dawgs beat teams from Towson University, the University of Maryland, College Park, and Drexel University during the regional competition.

Originally published on UMBC News. Photos by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

2017 Maryland Computing Education Summit, Thur. April 27, CCBC


Are you interested in K-12 computing education in Maryland?  Would you like to learn more about what’s happening across the state to increase access to computing education for all students (PreK-20)?  If so, please consider registering for the 2017 Maryland Computing Education Summit on Thursday, April 27th.  This event, which will be held at the Community College of Baltimore County in Catonsville, is hosted by the CS Matters in Maryland project team and the Maryland State Department of Education.

The summit is open to teachers, administrators, higher education and industry representatives, and anyone who is (or would like to become) involved with computing education in Maryland.  Please note that capacity is limited. We are still accepting registrations. Please complete the online registration form.

For more information about the event, please visit the CE21-Maryland Web site

Please feel free to contact the organizers at with any questions or suggestions.


Dr. Marie desJardins
Principal Investigator UMBC, CS Matters in Maryland
Associate Dean, College of Engineering and Information

Dr. Jan Plane
Principal Investigator UMCP, CS Matters in Maryland
Principal Lecturer, Department of Computer Science

Marquita Friday
Career and Technology Education Lead Specialist
Maryland State Department of Education

UMBC CyberDawgs win 2017 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

The UMBC CyberDawgs team receiving the first place trophy at the 2017 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition finals event. Pictured from left to right: Bryan Vanek, Jacob Rust, Anh Ho, Professor Charles Nicholas, Christian Beam, Justin Wright, Chris Gardner, Seamus Burke and Zack Orndorff

The UMBC CyberDawgs team took first place at the finals of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC).  The CyberDawgs had won the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition earlier in the spring, earning the team an invitation to compete in the final ten national championship match held April 13-15 at the University of Texas, San Antonio.  This is UMBC’s second trip to the NCCDC finals – two years ago in their first visit the CyberDawgs came in fourth.

The National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition has been held annually since 2005 and focuses on the operational aspect of managing and protecting an existing network infrastructure. Teams are scored on their ability to detect and respond to outside threats, maintain availability of existing services such as mail servers and web servers, respond to business requests such as the addition or removal of additional services, and balance security needs against business needs.

This year more than 230 schools participated at the state and regional level with winners of the ten regional competitions faceing off in San Antonio. In addition to UMBC, this year’s finalists included teams from the University of Tulsa (2nd Place), Brigham Young University (3rd place), DePaul University, the University of Washington, California State University Northridge, Rochester Institute of Technology, Montana Tech, University of South Alabama, and University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

The CyberDawgs is a group of UMBC students who share a common interest in computer and network security.  The group is advised by UMBC faculty Charles Nicholas and Richard Forno. See the CyberDawgs Web site for information on their activities and how to get involved.

Congratulations to the UMBC CyberDawgs!!!

UMBC Cyberdawgs compete in 2017 Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition finals

The UMBC CyberDawgs are at the University of Texas, San Antonio competing in the national two-day finals event for the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) that takes place April 13-14. The CybrDawgs took first place in the Mid-Atlantic regional finals two weeks ago which qualified them for the finals this week. This is UMBC’s second trip to the CCDC national finals – two years ago in their first visit the CyberDawgs came in fourth.

The CyberDawgs is a group of UMBC students who share a common interest in computer and network security.  The group is advised by UMBC faculty Charles Nicholas and Richard Forno. See the CyberDawgs Web site for information on their activities and how to get involved.

Good luck to the CyberDawgs!!!

UMBC Prof. Tinoosh Mohsenin receives NSF CAREER Award for Deep Learning Technologies

Tinoosh Mohsenin, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, has received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to advance her research on energy efficient implementation of deep learning technologies and machine learning algorithms that are developed to function similarly to the brain. Her award totals $475,104 over five years. Mohsenin’s research will enable those in medicine, intelligence, and environmental science to adapt the technology developed in her lab to their own work.

“We congratulate Dr. Mohsenin on her NSF CAREER Award, an important recognition of her groundbreaking work and the impact it will have on other fields,” said Karl V. Steiner, vice president for research. “This recognition of Dr. Mohsenin adds to our growing list of exceptional young faculty recognized by peers and funding agencies alike for the incredible potential their work has to move science and technology forward.”

The CAREER Award will support Mohsenin’s work creating solutions to both software and hardware issues with hardware implementation opportunities in her lab and across many industries. She is the director of the Energy Efficient High Performance Computing (EEHPC) Lab at UMBC. Mohsenin is particularly focused on energy efficiency, and emphasizes the importance of user-friendly, battery-powered and low-cost hardware implementation techniques for future computing.

Professor Tinoosh Mohsenin in her lab.


In the medical field, Mohsenin hopes her low power deep learning technology will help physicians and medical professionals detect seizures and cancer more quickly and accurately by improving the analysis of highly complex brain signal and image data, beyond what can be gleaned from today’s standard brain monitoring and analysis techniques. Mohsenin hopes her work will also help people with significant mobility limitations who use small multi-modal sensors on their tongue as well as other methods to maneuver wheelchairs or command other technologies. More complex algorithms and their efficient hardware implementation can notably improve the responsiveness of such technologies for users.

“I am very excited about this award as it allows me to take my research to the next level and help society find new computing techniques for smart wearable or mobile devices,” Mohsenin explains. “Current deep learning models have not been explored for power-constrained smart devices, and this research can potentially revolutionize several fields including healthcare, transportation, ecology, surveillance and public utilities.”

The award will provide her with opportunities to engage more UMBC students in STEM research, particularly among women and minority. She also looks forward to inspiring local middle and high school students to pursue engineering majors and careers.

Adam Page ‘12, computer engineering and Ph.D. ‘16, computer engineering, worked in Mohsenin’s lab on research that will be continued through the CAREER award.

In the last two decades, UMBC faculty have received 34 NSF CAREER awards. Additional UMBC faculty honored with CAREER awards so far in 2017 include Lee Blaney, assistant professor of chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering, for his work on water contamination, and Ting Zhu, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, for his work to develop a networked system that can accommodate solutions for wireless communications, machine learning and data processing.

Adapted from a UMBC News article. Photos by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

talk: Stepping Away From the Edge of Illness, 4:30p Thr 4/6

CHMPR Distinguished Lecturer Series

Stepping Away From the Edge of Illness

Dr. Ancha Baranova, George Mason University

4:30-5:30pm Thursday, 6 April 2017, UC 310, UMBC
3:30-4:30pm Reception, UC 310

The human body may be afflicted by a multitude of chronic diseases. In principle, any chronic ailment develops along with one or more of the four fundamental pathophysiological processes, namely Insulin Resistance, Systemic Inflammation, Metabolic Deficiency and Tissue/Organ Involution and Degeneration. All of these four fundamental processes are known harbingers of the aging process. Borders between health and disease are blurry, and typical diagnostic cut-offs are arbitrary and in the recent past were subjects for revision. Therefore, neither physicians nor patients should wait until clear signs of crossing the border between health and sickness manifest themselves. To the contrary, they must constantly at all times consciously apply their efforts to ensure the maintenance of proper body homeostasis. By doing so, they can best resist the metabolic derangement which defines an “aged” state. Optimally, for humans to remain healthy throughout inevitable process of aging, biochemical parameters must be monitored longitudinally and balanced with available means. For relatively healthy individuals, these means should be centered on non-pharmacological, predominantly nutritional and nutraceutical approaches. Accordingly, it is reasonably foreseeable that a novel “Health Integrator” profession is anticipated to emerge in order to support the growing need for life-long health maintenance.

Dr. Ancha Baranova is an Associate Professor in School of Systems Biology, George Mason University, Fairfax VA. Dr. Baranova runs both experimental and computational research programs in highly interdisciplinary and collaborative field of Personalized Medicine. She is an expert in systems biology driven analysis of human metabolism, with an emphasis on diseases associated with the process of ageing. She is an author of more than 150 research papers, reviews and opinion pieces in the field of human systems biology.

talk: Quantum plane and plucking polynomial of rooted trees, 1pm 4/7

UMBC CSEE Seminar Series

Quantum plane and plucking polynomial of rooted trees

Józef H. Przytycki
George Washington University

1:00-2:00pm, Friday, 7 April 2017, ITE 231

We describe here a new invariant of rooted trees and following up state sum invariant of pointed graphs. We argue that the invariant is interesting on it own, and that it has connections to knot theory and homological algebra. Another reason that we propose this invariant is that we deal here with an elementary, interesting new mathematics and after the talk everybody can take part in developing the topic, inventing new results and connections to other disciplines of mathematics (and likely statistical mechanics and combinatorial biology). The staring point of the talk is the well known formula for $(x+y)^n$ in the quantum plane ($yx=qxy$).

Józef Henryk Przytycki is a mathematician specializing in the fields of knot theory and topology.  A native of Poland, Przytycki received a Master of Science degree in mathematics from Warsaw University in 1977 and, after emigrating to the United States, a Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia University, where his advisor was Joan Birman. He is currently a professor of mathematics at George Washington University in Washington, DC. He has supervised nine Ph.D. students and has authored and co-authored many mathematical publications, including more than 100 research papers, 10 conference proceedings and 2 books.

Host: Samuel Lomonaco

Seminar Organizer: Tulay Adali

About the CSEE Seminar Series: The UMBC Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering presents technical talks on current significant research projects of broad interest to the Department and the research community. Each talk is free and open to the public. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for future talks.

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