6th Annual CSEE Welcome Back Picnic, 1-2:30 Wed Sept 9th, 312 University Cntr


The UMBC ACM Student Chapter Committee invites CSEE students, faculty and staff to its sixth annual Welcome Back Picnic. For more information, contact ua20019 at umbc.edu.

Hi All,

To the old timers, welcome back to UMBC! Hope you guys had a great summer! To all the new ones, welcome to UMBC! specifically to CSEE!

Before the semester takes its toll, we @ ACM Student Chapter and CSEE department, would like to invite you to our welcome back picnic (= free food).

It’s a opportunity to socialize with everyone and for the faculty and students to meet each other.

What: Sixth annual CSEE Welcome Back Picnic
Who: Limited to CSEE faculty, staff and students
Date: Wednesday, September 9th, 2015
Time: 1:00pm to 2:30pm
Location: University Center, Room 312

So get ready to dig into some good food and conversations. Have an amazing year ahead! Welcome once again,

UMBC ACM Student Chapter Committee and CSEE department

CSEE faculty comment on Ashley Madison data breach


CSEE faculty Anupam Joshi and Rick Forno were interviewed this week by several media outlets on the impact and cybersecurity aspects of the Ashley Madison data breach.

Ashley Madison is a popular website with “more than 33 million members in 46 countries” that provides services “for married men and women looking to have a discreet affair.”  Last month a group claimed to have obtained data about the site’s users and threatened to release it unless the site’s Toronto-based company, Avid Life Media Inc., shut down the service. Earlier in the spring, the company had announced plans for an IPO later in the year. The company called the hacker’s bluff and the group, the Impact Team, released more than 30G of customer data in several dumps this week. Avid Life has confirmed that some of the customer data posted is legitimate.

Professor Joshi, director of the UMBC Center for Cybersecurity and also chair of the CSEE department, was interviewed by ABC2.  In the interview,  he cautioned that data breaches are increasingly becoming part of daily life. “Information is valuable,” he said. “People are after information. No security is perfect and once you marry these things, there is an incentive for someone to spend the right time and effort to steal some information.” He also spoke about users falling into a false sense of security. “Nothing is really secure on the Internet,” he warned. “If you don’t want the thing you’re doing to show up on ABC2 at some point then don’t do it.”

Dr. Forno, Center for Cybersecurity assistant director and head of UMBC Cybersecurity Graduate Program spoke to Beta Boston and TV Newsroom about public reactions as the data breach revealed several government officials as users of the website. “Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get two wildly different opinions on the issue,” he said. “Some people will say, `Well, they broke the law, they hacked into this private company’s computers and stole data.’ Yeah, that’s true. But from the other side, you have to say, were they doing this for a public service?”  He also discussed the incident with South Korea-based radio program “This Morning with Alex Jensen.”

Some material adapted from an Insights article by Achsah Callahan.

CSEE Prof. Curtis Menyuk wins Humboldt Research Award

CSEE professor Curtis Menyuk was recently awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Award. This award is a significant honor, and comes with 60,000 euros in funding to support research in with German research collaborators.

The Humbolt Research Award award is given to recognize the lifetime research achievments of academics "whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future."

Dr. Menyuk's research is in the field of nonlinear optics and its applications.  His expertise is in theoretical and computational modeling, although much of his work has been in collaboration with experimental groups.  One major reearch achievement is the development of the basic equations that govern light propagation in optical fibers in the presence of nonlinearity, birefringence, and chromatic dispersion.  These equations are the basis for the physical layer modeling of optical fiber communication systems and are used extensively in the telecommunications and photonics industry. 

A second achievment is the development of models for determining the stability and noise response of modelocked lasers and other resonators.  This work is ongoing, but has already had a significant on the design of short-pulse lasers and other resonators.  

A third body of work has been fundamental studies of nonlinear processes in gases and optical fibers.  This theoretical work led to scientifically important experimental work and may lead to new methods for high-energy pulse generation and time transfer in optical fibers.

Dr. Menyuk has authored or co-authored more than 250 archival journal publications, edited three books and he is a co-inventor of six patents.  He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and the IEEE. He is a former UMBC Presidential Research Professor.

Here is what Dr. Menyuk has to say about winning the award:

“I was pleased and honored to receive the Humboldt Research Award, which is one of the world's most prestigious academic awards. Most Nobel prize winners in my field and many members of the national academies have won this award. I have been at UMBC for 30 years, and this award is really a recognition of the collective efforts of my research group and colleagues here at UMBC. I am grateful for Dr. Philip Russell of the Max Planck Institute for Light for nominating me and — what is even more important — for giving my research group at UMBC the opportunity to collaborate with one of the world's great research institutes.”

This is the second major international award Dr. Menyuk has won in the past two years. In 2013, Dr. Menyuk was awarded the IEEE Photonics Society Streifer Award.

CSEE Prof. Jian Chen receives grant for health informatics data visualization


jianChen200CSEE professor Jian Chen recently received an award from Department of Defense to to develop new techniques to visualize health informatics data. The award will support two UMBC research students for two years and be done in collaboration with Jesus Caban, Gerard Reidy and Joseph Bleiberg from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center's National Intrepid Center of Excellence.

The research will the support temporal exploration and analysis of traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder from patient cohorts. The group will design interactive visualization to move beyond using a small subset of data from the wealth and breadth of clinical information to improve diagnostic accuracy.

The project will help clinicians obtain new insights about the underlying conditions of patients, analyze complex hidden clinical patterns, and visually explore the correlations between many assessment techniques and imaging modalities including neuroimaging, neuropsychiatric measures, patient history, demographic information, and clinical tests).

Robotic assistive devices for independent living

Accessibility symbol

CSEE PhD student Kavita Krishnaswamy and Prof. Tim Oates write about their research using brain-computer interfaces and speech recognition tools to control robotic to assist individuals with reduced muscular strength. The piece, Robotic assistive devices for independent living, appeard in Robohub, "a non-profit online communication platform that brings together experts in robotics research, start-ups, business, and education from across the globe."

They describe their motivation as follows.

"One of the most craved aspects of the human experience is to be independent: the abilitiy to take care of one's self establishes a sense of dignity, inherent freedom, and profound independence. Our goal is to bring robotic assistive devices into the real world where they can support individuals with severe disabilities and alleviate the workload of caregivers, with the ultimate vision of helping people with severe physical disabilities to achieve physical independence without relying on others. As robotic assistive devices become ubiquitous, they will enable people with severe physical disabilities to confidently use technology in their daily lives, not just to survive, but to flourish."

They demonstrated the feasibility of integrating a brain-computer interface with speech recognition for self-directed arm repositioning tasks through a robotic interface for repositioning the simulated arm of an avatar using a Emotiv Epoc headset and Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software.

CSEE research group demonstrates smart fabric for gesture recognition

inviz demonstration

CSEE Ph.D. student Alexander Nelson and faculty Ryan Robucci and Nilanjan Banerjee participated in the monthly TechBreakfast MeetUp where they demonstrated the research on developing 'invisible' sensing systems that can be embedded into fabrics.

Their Inviz system, developed in the UMBC Eclipse cluster of laboratories,  uses textile-based capacitive sensor arrays and micro-doppler radars embedded into bed sheets, pillows, wheelchair pads, and clothing, for environmental control and physical therapy for such paralysis patients. The sensors detect gestures regardless of evolving environmental and patient conditions and provides explicit real-time feedback to the user. Using low-cost and ultra-low power capacitive sensing and micro-radars built into headgear, the Inviz system can reduce hospital visits and therapy costs.

You can read more about the work in a paper that was awarded the best demonstration runner-up prize at the 2015 conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications (PerCom).

Gurashish Singh, Alexander Nelson, Ryan Robucci, Chintan Patel and Nilanjan Banerjee, Inviz: Low-power Personalized Gesture Recognition Using Wearable Textile Capacitive Sensor Arrays, Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications, IEEE, March 2015.

The Baltimore TechBreakfast is a free monthly demo-style event where entrepreneurs, techies, developers, designers, business people, and interested people see showcases on cool new technology and interact with each other. "Show and Tell for Adults" is how it's sometimes described. Each TechBreakfast begins at 8:00am and goes until 10:00am, although people usually hang around later.

Professor Tulay Adali appointed UMBC Distinguished University Professor

CSEE faculty member Tulay Adali has been appointed as a Distinguished University Professor for UMBC. Professor Adali is being recognized for:

“…outstanding theoretical contributions to the field of signal processing that have enabled significant advances in medical imaging, and excellence in teaching and mentoring the next generation of engineers and scholars who continue to advance the field of signal processing.”

Professor Adali started teaching at UMBC in 1992, the same year that she received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Shortly after joining UMBC, she began forging lasting collaborations, first locally, and then nationwide and internationally. This resulted in the steady buildup of a research program, with continuous and growing funding from major federal agencies, including the prestigious NSF CAREER grant, the U.S. Army, and industry. She took full advantage of UMBC’s advantageous position, with respect to proximity to major medical institutions. She moved her application domain to biomedical data analysis early in her career, where she helped define the field of data-driven image analysis and fusion, an area that continues to grow in importance. She is a very popular teacher and is mentor to an impressive number of Ph.D students, several of whom have assumed faculty positions at institutions such as Virginia Tech, the University of New Mexico, and Yale.

Professor Adali has been also active within her professional community, having chaired the Machine Learning for Signal Processing (MLSP) Technical Committee of the IEEE Signal Processing Society, and having served on a number of boards of the IEEE Signal Processing Society. She has also assisted in the organization of numerous international conferences and workshops, including the IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP), the IEEE International Workshop on Neural Networks for Signal Processing (NNSP), and the IEEE International Workshop on MLSP. She has been on the editorial boards of a number of transactions and journals and is currently serving on the Editorial Board of the Proceedings of the IEEE, among others.

In addition, Professor Adali is a Fellow of the IEEE and the AIMBE, and has received the following awards: the 2010 IEEE Signal Processing Society Best Paper Award, the 2013 University System of Maryland Regents’ Award for Research, and an NSF CAREER Award. She was also an IEEE Signal Processing Society Distinguished Lecturer for 2012 and 2013.

Prof. Matuszek interviewed by CBC Radio about research

CSEE professor Cynthia Matuszek was interviewed on her research on gender bias in online images associated with occupations by the CBC Spark radio program on technology trends.

The research was published in a recent paper, Unequal Representation and Gender Stereotypes in Image Search Results for Occupations, that was recognized as a best paper in the 2015 ACM CHI Conference. This conference is considered the most prestigious in the field of human–computer interaction, and is one of the top ranked computer science conferences.

Professor Matuszek does research on robotics and natural language processing and combines these two interests to build better human-robot interaction systems and to study the underlying problem of grounded language acquisition, i.e., how robots (and people!) can extract semantically meaningful representations of human language by mapping those representations to the noisy, unpredictable physical world in which they operate.

Prof. LaBerge recognized at RTCA Annual Symposium Awards

CSEE Professor Charles LaBerge, director of UMBC’s undergraduate Computer Engineering program, is being recognized at the 2015 Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics Annual Symposium in Washington, D.C. on June 3 for significant work on aviation safety standards.

The Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) is a not-for-profit association that collaborates with government agencies to achieve improvements in the safety and efficiency of the air transportation system.

Professor LaBerge was chosen to be honored by RTCA for his work on the “Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Avionics Supporting Next Generation Satellite Systems”. His research focuses on aeronautical navigation and communication applications, as well as digital signal processing, coding theory, and radio frequency interference.

Dr. Laberge's work was cited in a recent article in the RTCA digest, Spotlight on Volunteers: Communications Expert Advances Aviation Safety, for his leadership and contributions to standards for aviation communication. "Chuck has been invaluable to RTCA's work for many years – we could not have accomplished what we have without his expertise and the long hours he has spent advancing aviation safety," said RTCA President Margaret Jenny.

"Chuck LaBerge serves as Chair of RTCA’s SC-222, Inmarsat AMS(R)S, which has been working since October 2008 to produce several guidance documents focused on satellite systems capability. Chuck is known industry-wide for his expertise in radio signal processes and interference and brings a wealth of knowledge to the Committee's work. Chuck has a long and active history of contributing to RTCA products and first became involved with RTCA in the late 70s, helping to produce DO-177, a MOPS document focusing on Microwave Landing System (MLS) Airborne Receiving Equipment. He has made substantial contributions to 20 RTCA documents, not including document updates."

Dr. LaBerge describes the the work of the RTCA Special Committee 222 as defining the standards for satellite communication services that allow aircraft passengers to place telephone calls and access the Internet while in flight, especially in oceanic airspace. His previous RTCA work had focused on the special constraints that support pilot and controller communications related to the safety and regularity of flight along national and international air routes.

Professor LaBerge began working on RTCA standards at the Honeywell Aerospace Research & Technology Center, where he worked from from 1975 to 2008, achieving the position of Senior Fellow. While there, he completed a PhD in Electrical Engineering at UMBC in 2003. In 2008, he joined UMBC as Professor of the Practice, where he currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in computer engineering, helps teach the popular Introduction to Engineering class (ENES 101) and directs the undergraduate computer engineering program.

Professor Matuszek's Research Highlighted in Various News Publications



A study by CSEE professor Cynthia Matuszek on gender bias in online images associated with a variety of occupations has recently received a lot of attention. The study, which was carried out with former University of Washington colleagues Matthew Kay and Sean Munson, resulted in a paper to be presented at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Seoul, Korea in mid-April.

The paper, Unequal Representation and Gender Stereotypes in Image Search Results for Occupations, was recognized as a best paper of the 2015 ACM CHI Conference. This conference is considered the most prestigious in the field of human–computer interaction, and is one of the top ranked computer science conferences. 

"This project was a joint effort between myself and the two other authors," Dr. Matuszek explains. "The project was originally developed after I saw a presentation in which the images chosen to represent different professions were extremely one-sided and didn't seem representative.  Our primary goal was to learn more about the software design space: does gender in image search results affect whether people think the search results are good?  On the flip side, does showing different genders in different roles (that is, showing a male vs. a female nurse) affect how people think of those occupations?  You need to know the answers to questions like that before you can create, e.g., an image search engine that is really well and thoughtfully designed."

Not surprisingly, Dr. Matuszek's work has been noted by the popular press, with recent stories in the Washington Post WonkblogThe Atlantic and many online news outlets. The Washington Post article quotes Dr. Matuszek on the genesis of the study.

In addition, many images retrieved by the web’s top search engine happen to be hyper-sexualized caricatures. Some female construction workers in midriff-baring flannel and jean shorts seem better dressed for a Halloween party than, say, a demolition site. (Researchers dubbed this the “sexy construction worker problem.”)

"It’s part of a cycle: How people perceive things affects the search results, which affect how people perceive things," said co-author Cynthia Matuszek, who now teaches computer ethics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Matuszek recalls sitting in a robotics lecture last year at the University of Washington, where she earned her doctoral degree in computer science. A male colleague illustrated researchers in his Powerpoint presentation as “all guys, classic nerds,” she said. But a caretaker was shown in a slide as "a plump woman in her thirties who was wearing a pink suit." The stereotypes irked Matuszek, and she's not the only one wondering about the power of images.

About eight months ago, Matuszek and her colleagues at the University of Washington decided to test the power of popular image. They wanted to know if something as seemingly trivial as search results could sway someone’s perception of how many women work in a certain field, and whether they’re competent. The researchers surveyed 21 people — a pool too small to make any sweeping statement, Matuszek acknowledges, but big enough for a glimpse into our cultural psyche — starting with questions like: What percentage of construction workers are women? Do you believe the person in this photo is good at their job? Two weeks later, they followed up, prompting participants to sift through Google image results before answering the same inquiries. Responses changed after Google images were introduced, according to the study, which was published this week. Search results could determine 7 percent of a participant's subsequent opinion about the number of men and women in a particular field, the authors calculated. And a worker was, on average, deemed more competent if he or she fit into a gender stereotype.

As Adrienne LaFrance notes in a recent Atlantic article about Matuszek's study, "Google image searches don't just reflect the sad state of diversity in corporate leadership; they actually influence the ways in which people think about what it means to be a CEO."

The study concluded that "shifting the representation of gender in image search results can shift people’s perceptions about real-world distributions."[i]


[i] Kay, Matthew, Cynthia Matuszek, and Sean A. Munson. Unequal Representation and Gender Stereotypes in Image Search Results for Occupations. ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Seoul, Korea. 21 Jan. 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.









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