Tag: pastel

The Making of a Citizen Science App

Astronomy is a citizen’s science. Its foundation is ordinary people who help answer serious scientific questions by providing vital data to the astronomical community. Nebulas, supernovas, and gamma ray sightings.

The availability of smartphones make collecting and sharing scientific data easier, faster, and more accurate.

These days former astronomy teacher Robert Pastel isn’t as interested in the stars, but he is serious about environmental science and using computer science—and smartphones—to capture more data from citizen scientists.

The availability of smartphones make collecting and sharing scientific data easier, faster, and more accurate. Pastel works with Alex Mayer, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan Tech, students in both computer science and humanities, and scientists around the world to build mobile apps that feed real-world projects.

It starts in the summer, with scientists. “We reach out to them, or they find us. They share an idea and how citizen science can be used,” Pastel explains. “Then the app building begins; it’s about a two-year process.”

When the academic year rolls around, Pastel challenges his Human-Computer Interactions class to build the initial app prototype. In the following year, during Pastel’s Senior Design course, the app undergoes a makeover—from mobile app to a web-based tool. “By this time the scientists have likely changed their minds or solidified their ideas, and more changes are made,” Pastel adds.

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An interactive mushroom mapper is the group’s most successful accomplishment to date. Hikers, bikers, or climbers—anyone with a smartphone and an affinity for fungi—capture a photo of the fungus, specify the type, describe the location, and hit submit. All via the app. The mushroom observation data reaches Eric Lilleskoz, a research ecologist with the United States Department of Agriculture. Mushroom Mapper has more than 250 observations from around the country. The app is also used for natural science education in local middle schools.

In addition to creating apps for citizen science, this NSF-supported effort has spawned student-initiated software development and offline apps.

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Humane Interface Design Interviewed at 2015 Design Expo

Human Interface Design at Design Expo 2015
Human Interface Design at Design Expo 2015

The Enterprise team Human Interface Design (HIDE) presented at the 2015 Design Expo held at the Memorial Union Ballroom on April 16.

Team Leaders
Stephen Radachy, Computer Science and Seyedeh Maryam “Shabnam” Fakhrhosseini
Advisor
Robert Pastel, Computer Science
Sponsor
Humana
Project Overview
Our team provides students with an opportunity to design, develop, and evaluate interfaces to make daily work more efficient and easier to manage. As a whole, HIDE works together to design and test different applications for our industry partners that can be used on Android, iPhone, and other devices. We accomplish these projects by combining knowledge from multiple disciplines (e.g., computer science, psychology, and human factors). Students can get involved in various stages of the design process, from developing an app by programming to evaluation by designing usability tests and analyzing data.

WATCH THE VIDEO INTERVIEW FOR MICHIGAN TECH EXPO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUkonSLVNuY

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Recent Grants

Philart Jeon: PI, National Health Institute. “NRI: Colloborative: Interactive Robotic Orchestration – Music-based emotion and social interaction therapy for children with ASD,” 2014-2017.

Philart Jeon: Co-PI, US DOT-OST, National University Rail Center Project. “NURail-Tier I,” 2014-2017

Robert Pastel & Charles Wallace: CI-Team, National Science Foundation.”Environmental CyberCitizens: Engaging Citizen Scientists in Global Environmental Change through Crowdsensing and Visualization,” 2011 and on-going

Laura Brown & Zhenlin Wang: Co-PI, National Science Foundation. “Adaptive Memory Resource Management in a Data Center – A Transfer Learning Approach,” 2014-2017

Leo Ureel: Recipient, Jackson Blended Learning Grant. “Canvas TA: Auto Program Feedback,” 2014-2015

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