UMBC to compete in 2013 Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship

CSEE Professor and director of the chess program Alan Sherman with the team that will represent UMBC at the 2013 Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship next month in Lubbock, Texas.  The top four qualifying schools from the PanAms go on to compete in the Final Four of college chess, held in the spring. The winner is considered national champion and takes home the President’s Cup.

Prof Marie desJardins talks on teaching and diversity in CS education and research

CSEE Professor Marie desJardins was one of three UMBC professors who spoke at a recent UMBC Provost’s luncheon and new faculty seminar on Great Teachers Talk about Teaching. She was joined by Professor James Grubb (History) and Manil Suri (Mathematics & Statistics), who also spoke at the seminar.

Dr. desJardins will also be talking on Diversity in CS Education and Research at a special Women in Data Science event hosted by the Data Innovation DC meetup group.  The group explores the “intersection of the data revolution and the art of creating value” and meets monthly in the DC area.

The event, which will also include presentations from two other women working in data science, is intended to demonstrate the impact of women technologists in the growing area of data analytics and encourage more participation by women. The meeting is free and open to the public (RSVP here) and will take place between 6:00pm and 8:30pm on Monday, September 23, 2013 at Cooley LLP (1299 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Suite 700, Washington, DC map)

Prof. Gymama Slaughter receives NSF award to develop nanoelectrode probe arrays

CSEE Professor Gymama Slaughter received a two-year research research award from the National Science Foundation to develop and evaluate nanoelectrode probe arrays to better detect and extract intracellular signals. Data from these signals will help in restoring functional loss of limb control of individuals with spinal cord injury or stroke.

Conventional neural interfaces consist of microelectrode arrays (MEAs) that are in close contact with neurons to record extracellular potential or stimulate electrical activity. However, due to the relative large microelectrode size, these MEAs are not capable of extracting intracellular signals, which is of particular interest in restoring functional loss of limb control of individuals with spinal cord injury or stroke. MEAs electrophysiological recordings still faces two major challenges, the inherent noisy data and the limited spatial resolution. These problems especially limit the accuracy and reliability of the movement parameter due to the unreliable spike recording for long durations.

The objective of this research is the fabrication and characterization of independently addressable nanoelectrode arrays (NEAs) and nanoelectrode probe arrays (NEPAs) for high-throughput recording of extracellular and intracellular electrophysiological measurements of neural activity.  These will allow, for the first time, simultaneous extracellular and intracellular characterization of large number of neurons while maintaining high spatial resolution, high signal-to-noise ratio, and excellent selectivity of neural interfaces.

The NSF award,  a novel parallel extracellular and intracellular nanoelectrode and nanoelectrode probe array for high throughput electrophysiological recording, will provide over $150,000 over the next two years to fund Dr. Slaughter and her students research on this project.

Tim Finin elected as a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence

2013 AAAI fellows

CSEE Professor Tim Finin was one of eight researchers elected this year as a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). His election citation reads

"For significant contributions to the theory and practice of knowledge sharing in multiagent systems and on the Web, and for sustained service to the AI community."

The new fellows were inducted at the annual AAAI fellows dinner at the 2103 AAAI conference in Seattle Washington in July.

Tim Finin, http://umbc.edu/~finin

Finin's research interests have ranged widely over a the field of Artificial Intelligence during his professional career and have included computer vision, natural language processing, knowledge representation and reasoning, expert systems and multiagent systems. His current research is focused on extracting useful information from text and semistructured data and using Semantic Web technologies to enable people and computers to effectively model, share and integrate both knowledge and data. He is working with UMBC faculty and students on applying these ideas to help solve problems in security, privacy, mobile computing and social computing environments.

AAAI was founded in 1979 as an international scientific society devoted to advancing the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines. It's fellow program started in 1990 to recognize individuals who have made significant, sustained contributions, usually over at least a ten-year period, to the field of artificial intelligence.

Curtis Menyuk gets IEEE Photonics Society Willm. Streifer Scientific Achievement Award

1109fiber_optics

Curtis Menyuk Professor Curtis R. Menyuk of the UMBC Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department has been awarded the 2013 IEEE Photonics Society William Streifer Scientific Achievement Award. The award recongnizes Dr. Menyuk

"For seminal advances in the fundamental understanding and mitigation of polarization effects in high-performance optical fiber communication systems."

He will receive the award at presentation during the awards Ceremony at the 2013 IEEE Photonics Conference at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, Bellevue, Washington in September.

The William Streifer Scientific Achievement Award is given to recognize an exceptional single scientific contribution which has had a significant impact in the field of lasers and electro-optics in the past 10 years. The award is given for a relatively recent, single contribution, which has had a major impact on the Photonics Society research community. It may be given to an individual or a group for a single contribution of significant work in the field.

Professor Curtis Menyuk was born March 26, 1954. He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees from MIT in 1976 and the Ph.D. from UCLA in 1981. He has worked as a research associate at the University of Maryland, College Park and at Science Applications International Corporation in McLean, VA. In 1986 he became an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and he was the founding member of this department. In 1993, he was promoted to Professor. He was on partial leave from UMBC from Fall, 1996 until Fall, 2002. From 1996 – 2001, he worked part-time for the Department of Defense, co-directing the Optical Networking program at the DoD Laboratory for Telecommunications Sciences in Adelphi, MD from 1999 – 2001. In 2001 – 2002, he was Chief Scientist at PhotonEx Corporation. In 2008 – 2009, he was a JILA Visiting Fellow at the University of Colorado.

For the last 25 years, his primary research area has been theoretical and computational studies of lasers, nonlinear optics, and fiber optic communications. He has authored or co-authored more than 230 archival journal publications as well as numerous other publications and presentations, and he is a co-inventor of 5 patents. He has also edited three books. The equations and algorithms that he and his research group at UMBC have developed to model optical fiber systems are used extensively in the telecommunications and photonics industry. He is a member of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. 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.

CSEE professor Dr. Tulay Adali receives USM Regents’ Faculty Award for Scholarship/Research/Creative Activity

adali_awardMore than twenty years ago, Tulay Adali stepped onto UMBC’s campus as an assistant professor right after receiving her PhD. Much has changed since then.

Now a professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Dr. Adali runs a highly active Machine Learning for Signal Processing Lab (MLSP­Lab). Her recent appointment as an IEEE Signal Processing Society Distinguished Lecturer has prompted invitations to speak around the world about her research in the theory and development of algorithms for signal processing. This March, Dr. Adali was awarded the University System of Maryland Regents’ Faculty Award for Scholarship, Research, or Creative Activity.

Her secret to success?

“Planning or thinking about the future is not something I do,” said Dr. Adali in her acceptance speech at the Presidential Faculty and Staff Ceremony where she was honored in March. “I rather make sure I enjoy what I do and have fun along the way.” Her technique seems to be paying off. For proof, just take a look at the recognition received by her research in two distinct areas: the development of powerful data­driven methods, and the analysis and fusion of medical imaging data. In 2008, Dr. Adali was elected a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). In 2009, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) elected her a fellow for her work on the theory and practice of statistical signal processing.

In 2011, a paper by Dr. Adali and colleagues titled “Complex ICA using nonlinear functions” received the 2010 IEEE Signal Processing Society Best Paper Award. The work develops a complete framework, allowing for the processing of complex data in a manner similar to the real­valued case, eliminating the need to make many of the simplifying assumptions commonly employed. The results of this NSF­funded study led to the development of a complete data­driven framework that enables joint use of sample dependence and higher­order­statistics.

Dr. Adali’s work in medical image analysis and fusion has also gained notoriety. She has been working on methods for data­driven analysis of medical imaging data, and for the analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data for understanding brain function. She and her colleagues discovered that fusing more than two modalities increases the sensitivity and specificity of the analyses of fMRI, electroencephalography (EEG) and structural MRI data. In March 2011, an IEEE Spectrum article mentioned her success in obtaining very high classification accuracy in identifying mental disorders in patients. Then in April 2011, in addition to her ongoing projects funded by the NSF, NIH, and the Mind Research Network, she received a grant from Michelin Research to study irregular wear detection in tires, where the new data-driven framework is applied to a completely new problem domain.

These notable research advances made Dr. Adali stand out as a nominee for this year’s Regents’ Faculty Award for Scholarship, Research, or Creative Activity. It is the highest honor given by the Board of Regents to faculty members, given to faculty members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. This year, Dr. Adali joins only three other USM faculty members who were recognized for their exceptional research contributions. “Dr. Adali has been steadily building her research career and I am not surprised by the award since her research is remarkable,” says Dr. Carter, CSEE Department Chair. “I see her continuing to grow her research in areas of signal processing for medical applications and becoming a key UMBC faculty member

Rick Forno gives CISPA Guest Lecture

CISPA

On May 7, 2013, Dr. Richard Forno, Assistant Director of UMBC's Center for Cybersecurity and Director of UMBC's Graduate Cybersecurity Program, conducted an invited talk on the proposed Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and moderated a discussion about general cybersecurity issues to UMBC's Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.  The evening event was the second in a series of invited guest speakers as part of the Sorority's May Week festivities.

CISPA is a proposed law that would allow and encourage the sharing of Internet traffic information between the U.S. government and technology and manufacturing companies in order to help US government agencies investigate cyber threats and ensure the security of networks against cyberattacks.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. A sisterhood of more than 200,000 predominately Black college educated women, the Sorority currently has over 900 chapters located in the United States, England, Japan (Tokyo and Okinawa), Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Republic of Korea.

CSEE professor Marie desJardins continues reign as crossword champ

atplay_desjardinsPuzzle Perfect

What do crosswords and Computer Science have in common? For starters there’s CSEE professor Marie desJardins. When she’s not furthering the field of Artificial Intelligence, Dr. desJardins has a crossword puzzle in hand. It’s no accident that she’s the top ranking female crossword solver in the Mid-Atlantic.

This March Dr. desJardins joined hundreds of puzzle pros at the 36th annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Directed by New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz, it’s the nation’s oldest and   largest competition of its kind. Hundreds of competitors spend two days solving seven puzzles. It’s a race against the clock to prove their mental mettle.

“It’s a very unforgiving sport,” she says. “It’s like gymnastics. One little foot slipping off the balance beam and you’re not going to be on that podium.”

You need both speed and accuracy to succeed. Dr. desJardins can breeze through smaller puzzles in fifteen minutes; forty-five for the larger, Sunday-New-York-Times-sized puzzles. Though speed isn’t as important as accuracy in these competitions. One mistake can hurt as much as seven minutes of stalling. 

This year Dr. desJardins handed in seven perfect puzzles. That means getting every single word right—even those baffling clues pointing at pop-culture references or words all but erased from the English language. She placed 24th out of 570 solvers, finishing 5th in the “B” division.

Years ago Dr. desJardins discovered the tournament from the documentary Wordplay, which follows the personal and competitive lives of a band of crossword enthusiasts. One year she realized that the competition was during UMBC’s Spring Break. So she signed up and hit the road for Connecticut.  

DSC_5481“I wasn’t at all expecting to do well,” she says. It was a pleasant surprise when she placed in the top quarter of competitors. The success got her hooked. Since then, she’s been engaged in a personal battle to beat her own time. She has competed five times, and each year, her speed increases.  

Her secret to success? Practice is part of it. Dr.desJardins completes a lot of puzzles. She does them on Sunday morning with a cup of coffee. She does them to relax before bed. She’s adopted a policy of leaving no puzzle unfinished. Keeping a positive mindset is half the battle, she says.

Being a Computer Scientist may have something to do with it as well. Both require a knack for pattern recognition and problem solving. “It’s just the way my brain is wired,” she says.  

Had Dr. desJardins solved a mere two minutes quicker this year, she would have qualified for the finals in her division. Being a finalist would mean solving an oversized puzzle on a whiteboard against two fellow division “B” finalists. It’s a daunting and high-pressure test made tougher by the gaze of six hundred spectators. It’s no surprise that this is Dr. desJardins’ goal when she competes again next year.  

Photos: Top Right, courtesy UMBC Magazine Left, courtesty crosswordtournament.com

UMBC’s Anthony Johnson appointed to NAS committee on atomic, molecular and optical sciences

CSEE Professor Anthony Johnson has been appointed by the National Research Council to the National Academies’ Committee on Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Sciences. The CAMOS committee’s goals include providing active stewardship of the agenda laid out in the National Academies study Controlling the Quantum World and interacting with and advising U.S. federal agencies on science and technology issues involving the atomic, molecular, and optical sciences.

Dr. Johnson is the director of UMBC’s Center for Advanced Studies in Photonics Research. His research is in the area of ultrafast optics and optoelectronics- the ultrafast photophysics and nonlinear optical properties of bulk, nanoclustered, and quantum well semiconductor structures, untrashort pulse propagation in fibers and high-speed lightwave systems.

CSEE professor Nilanjan Banerjee wins Microsoft SEIF award to fund research

https://www.csee.umbc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Banerjeecropped.jpgCSEE professor Nilanjan Banerjee has received a Microsoft Software Engineering Innovation (SEIF) Award. The award comes with a $25,000 grant to help fund a research project that uses inventive wearable computing devices to help paraplegics and quadriplegics get around their homes. It’s called “Wearable Multi-Sensor Gesture Recognition in Assistive Devices for Paralysis Patients”.

Dr. Banerjee’s proposal was chosen from a pool of more than one hundred. He joins sixteen professors and researchers across the world who are also 2013 SEIF recipients.

The aim of the Microsoft SEIF award is to advance software engineering applications and tools by funding researchers with state of the art ideas. Projects involving devices, services, cloud-computing, and applications based on natural user interface (NUI) are top priority.

Banerjee’s project speaks to this goal. The project proposes a gesture-based Glovesystem that will allow paralysis patients to do everyday household activities, like watch television, adjust the thermostat, and turn on a lamp. The heart of the system is two wearable devices. A headband with textile-based EOG sensors will capture eye movement. A glove with flex sensors and an accelerometer will capture hand gestures. Once collected, this data that will be analyzed with a smartphone, translating the wearer’s intent.  

Fellow UMBC professors Shaun Kane and Amy Hurst (Information Systems) were also among this year’s SEIF award recipients. Like Banejree, their project deals with improving accessibility for the handicapped. It’s called “Wheeltop Interaction: Full-Body Gesture Control for Power Wheelchair Users”.

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