Month: November 2020

ACSHF Doctoral Defense

by Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors doctoral candidate, Lavanya Rajesh Kumar, will defend her dissertation at 10 a.m. Tuesday (Dec. 1) via Zoom.

The title of her defense is “To Examine the Effects of Exercise & Instructional Based Interventions on Executive Functioning, Motor Learning & Emotional Intelligence Abilities Among Older Adults”.

Kumar is advised by Kevin Trewartha (CLS). All are welcome to attend.

Kevin Trewartha is a researcher with the ICC’s Human-Centered Computing group.


ECE Doctoral Defense – Yongyu Wang

by Electrical and Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering doctoral candidate Yongyu Wang will defend at 10 a.m. Tuesday (Dec 1) via Zoom.

The title of his presentation is “High-Performance Spectral Methods for Graph-Based Machine Learning.” Co-advisors are Chee-Wooi Ten (ECE) and Zhuo Feng (ECE).

Chee-wooi Ten is a researcher with the ICC’s Cyber-Physical Systems group.


ME-EM’s Bo Chen is Co-PI of New DoE Grant

by Sponsored Programs

Darrell Robinette (ME-EM/APSRC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $1,348,109 research and development co-op/joint agreement from the Department of Energy.

The project is entitled, ” Energy Optimization of Light and Heavy Duty Vehicle Cohorts of Mixed Connectivity, Automation and Propulsion System Capabilities via Meshed V2V-V2I and Expanded Data.”

Jeff Naber (ME-EM/APSRC), Bo Chen (ME-EM/APSRC), Jung Yun Bae (ME-EM/APSRC) and Chris Morgan (PHC/APSRC) are Co-PI’s on this potential 2.3-year project. Bo Chen is a researcher with the ICC’s Cyber-Physical Systems research group.


You’ve got #tenacity. Tell us about it.

It has definitely been a memorable semester! You’re on the home stretch now and you will get it done. After all, you’re a Husky … and you’ve got #tenacity. Tell us about it.

Share by email.

  1. Email computing@mtu.edu
  2. Share a few words about your Fall 2020 Husky #tenacity
  3. Send us a photograph (or two)
  4. We’ll publish your #tenacity on our website and social media channels

Fill out a Goole form.

https://forms.gle/GLgUQHtCP69HkLfm8


MTRI Research Scientist Joel LeBlanc to Present Lecture Dec. 4, 3 pm

Senior Research Scientist Joel LeBlanc of Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) will present his lecture, “Testing the Validity of Physical (Software) Models in Inverse Problems,” on Friday, December 4, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. via online meeting.

The lecture is presented by the Michigan Tech Department of Computer Science.

Join the lecture HERE

Lecturer Bio

LeBlanc has a Ph.D. in Statistical Signal Processing. His areas of expertise include statistical signal processing, applied nonconvex optimization, EO/IR imaging, and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging. His research interests are in information theoretic approaches to inverse-imaging, computational techniques for solving large inverse problems, and fundamental limits of sensing.

Lecture Abstract

Numerical simulations are the modern analog of the “physical system” referenced by Rosenblueth and Wiener in their 1945 paper “The Role of Models in Science.” This talk will introduce the inverse-problem approach for making inferences about the physical world and discuss how the Maximum Likelihood (ML) principle leads to both performant estimators and algorithm agnostic bounds on performance. The resulting estimators and associated bounds are only valid when global convergence is achieved, so I will present new results on global convergence testing that I believe are widely applicable. Finally, I will discuss some of my ongoing research interests: optimal resource allocation and testing for adversarial behavior through model relaxation.

Michigan Tech Research Institute focuses on technology development and research to sense and understand natural and human-made environments. Through innovation, education, and collaboration, the Institute supports meaningful solutions to critical global issues, from infrastructure to invasive species, national security to public health.


Briana Bettin, Part II: Research, Mentors, Creative Energy

Briana Bettin, front, far right, with fall 2019 Computer Science dept. teaching assistants

Michigan Tech 2020 Ph.D. graduate Briana Bettin, Computer Science, is among six new faculty members the College of Computing welcomed this fall. Bettin is an assistant professor for the Department of Computer Science and the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department.

This semester, she is teaching courses including CS1121 Introduction to Programming in C/C++, and pursuing research and other projects with faculty and students.

In this, Part II of this profile of Briana Bettin, Bettin and her faculty mentors talk research, education, and novel ideas.

Read the first installment of this article, ‘Briana Bettin, Asst. Prof., Part I: Neopets, HTML, Early Success Part I”, published Oct. 28, 2020, here.

Mental models, constructing knowledge, programming analogies.

Briana Bettin’s research interests are many. They include user experience, human factors, human-computer interactions, mental models, information representation, rural digital literacy, education, engagement, retention, and digital anthropology. Her Ph.D. dissertation aims to better understand how novice programmers approach learning programming, and how their construction of programming ideas might be better facilitated.

“I delve into mental models research and explore theories for how students might construct knowledge,” she explains. “Specifically, the major studies in my dissertation explore how prior applicable knowledge might allow for transfer to programming concepts, which can feel very novel to students who have never programmed before.”

Bettin is also exploring methods for designing programming analogies, testing their application in the classroom, and observing how their use may impact student understanding of specific topics. “I take a very user experience-oriented approach, and work to apply methods and ideas from user-experience research in the CS classroom space,” she says.

Creative energy, insight, and humanity.

With Computer Science department faculty members Associate Professor Charles Wallace and Assistant Professor Leo Ureel, Bettin has worked on projects studying how novice programmers communicate. She and Ureel also worked on several ideas in the introductory CS classrooms, including exploring pair programming obstacles in the classroom and in research.

“I got to know Dr. Wallace during my Ph.D., and I love getting his perspective on research ideas,” Bettin says. “He has so many interesting ideas, and he’s so fun to talk to!”

“Briana brings loads of creative energy, insight, and humanity to everything she does,” says Wallace. “We are very fortunate to have her with us.”

Passionate about Computing Education.

Other research collaborators include Lecturer Nathan Manser, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, and Senior Lecturer Michelle Jarvie-Eggart, Engineering Fundamentals, College of Engineering, with whom Bettin has explored topics in technology acceptance across engineering and computer science.

“Briana has been an enthusiastic addition to our research group,” Jarvie-Eggart says, who is working with Steelman and Wallace on improving engineering students’ acceptance of programming. “She really is amazing!”

Jarvie-Eggart sat in on Bettin’s Intro to Programming class in fall 2019, and noted that Bettin’s. approach of teaching algorithmic thinking and logic—before students begin programming—helps make programming more accessible to all.

“It builds foundational knowledge from the ground up,” she says. “Our research team is very excited about using her progressive CS education approaches to teach engineers programming.”

Stefka Hristova, in Michigan Tech Humanities, has always been supportive, helping me cultivate an interdisciplinary research vision and voice,” Bettin says. “Dr. Robert Pastel has also been so valuable in helping me approach my research with strong design. He has given me a lot of insight and I am so appreciative!”

“Briana is passionate about Computing Education, and she is invested in infusing equity and diversity into the STEM field,” Hristova says.


In Part III of this article, to be published soon, Briana Bettin talks about peer mentors and friends … and they say a few words, too.


Read the first installment of this article, ‘Briana Bettin, Asst. Prof., Part I: Neopets, HTML, Early Success Part I”, here.


Sangyoon Han to Present Chemistry Seminar this Friday, Nov. 13, at 3 pm

A Chemistry Seminar will be presented Friday, September 13, 2020, at 3:00 p.m., via online meeting. View the Events Calendar entry and find the meeting link here.

Dr. Sangyoon Han will present his lecture, “Toward Discovery of the Initial Stiffness-Sensing Mechanism by Adherent Cells.” Han is an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering, an Affiliate Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, and advisor for the Korean Student Association. Han is a member of the ICC’s Center for Data Science.

Lecture Abstract

The stiffness of the extracellular matrix (ECM) determines nearly every aspect of cellular/tissue development and contributes to metastasis of cancer. Adherent cells’ stiffness-sensing of the ECM triggers intracellular signaling that can affect proliferation, differentiation, and migration of the cells. However, biomechanical and molecular mechanisms behind this stiffness sensing have been largely unclear. One critical early event during the stiff-sensing is believed to be a force transmission through integrin-based adhesions, changing the molecular conformation of the molecules comprising the adhesions that link the ECM to the cytoskeleton. To understand this force transmission, my lab develops experimental and computational techniques, which include soft-gel-based substrates, live-cell imaging, computer-vision-based analysis, and inverse mechanics, etc. In this talk, I will talk about how we use soft-gel to quantify the spatial distribution of mechanical force transmitted by a cell, how we use light microscopy and computer vision to analyze the focal adhesions, and how these techniques are related to stiffness sensing. In particular, I will show you new data where cells can transmit different levels of traction forces in response to varying stiffness, even when the activity of the major motor protein, myosin, is inhibited. At the end of the talk, potential molecules responsible for the differential transmission will be discussed. 

Researcher Bio

Sangyoon Han received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington (UW) in 2012 and did postdoctoral training with Dr. Gaudenz Danuser in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for five years until 2017. Before the Ph.D., he received B.S and M.S. degree from Mechanical Engineering at Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea in 2002 and 2004.

He joined Michigan Tech, Biomedical Engineering from fall 2017, and started Mechanobiology Laboratory. His lab’s interests are in understanding the dynamic nature of force modulation occurring across cell adhesions and cytoskeleton that regulate cells’ environmental sensing. His lab develops a minimally-perturbing experimental approach and computational techniques, including soft-gel fabrication, nano-mechanical tools, live-cell microscopy, and image data modeling, to capture the coupling between force modulation and cellular molecular dynamics.


Sidike Paheding Publishes Paper in Expert Systems and Applications Journal

A research paper by Assistant Professor Sidike Paheding, Applied Computing, is to be published in the November 2020 issue of the journal, Expert Systems and Applications.

An in-press version of the paper, “Binary Chemical Reaction Optimization based Feature Selection Techniques for Machine Learning Classification Problems,” is available online.

Highlights

  • A chemical reaction optimization (CRO) based feature selection (FS) technique is proposed.
  • The proposed CRO based FS technique is improvised using particle swarm optimization.
  • Performance evaluation of proposed techniques on benchmark datasets gives promising results.

Paper Abstract

Feature selection is an important pre-processing technique for dimensionality reduction of high-dimensional data in machine learning (ML) field. In this paper, we propose a binary chemical reaction optimization (BCRO) and a hybrid binary chemical reaction optimization-binary particle swarm optimization (HBCRO-BPSO) based feature selection techniques to optimize the number of selected features and improve the classification accuracy.

Three objective functions have been used for the proposed feature selection techniques to compare their performances with a BPSO and advanced binary ant colony optimization (ABACO) along with an implemented GA based feature selection approach called as binary genetic algorithm (BGA). Five ML algorithms including K-nearest neighbor (KNN), logistic regression, Naïve Bayes, decision tree, and random forest are considered for classification tasks.

Experimental results tested on eleven benchmark datasets from UCI ML repository show that the proposed HBCRO-BPSO algorithm improves the average percentage of reduction in features (APRF) and average percentage of improvement in accuracy (APIA) by 5.01% and 3.83%, respectively over the existing BPSO based feature selection method; 4.58% and 3.12% over BGA; and 4.15% and 2.27% over ABACO when used with a KNN classifier.

Expert Systems With Applications, published by Science Direct/Elsevier, is a refereed international journal whose focus is on exchanging information relating to expert and intelligent systems applied in industry, government, and universities worldwide. The journal’s Impact factor is 5.4.


Livesay Named MTU’s Next Computing Dean

Dennis Livesay will become dean of Michigan Technological University’s College of Computing on Feb. 1, 2021.

Livesay comes to Michigan Tech from Wichita State University (WSU), where he is dean of the College of Engineering and a full professor in both the Department of Chemistry and Department of Biomedical Engineering. Livesay replaces outgoing dean Adrienne Minerick.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Livesay to the University as our next dean of the College of Computing,” said Jacqueline Huntoon, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “The combination of Dr. Livesay’s prior experiences and his vision for the future of the College of Computing make him ideally suited to strengthen the College going forward.” 

“Digital transformation is impacting every industry, including engineering and manufacturing,” said Livesay. “Computing, data, connectivity, and security are already the cornerstones of the modern economy. I look forward to working with everyone in the College of Computing, and across campus, to strengthen our efforts in these areas.”

Livesay noted that, while he has been happy in his role at WSU, he saw the opportunity to lead Michigan’s only college of computing as one he could not pass up. “I really see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that — given MTU’s traditional established strength in engineering — aligns perfectly with my background,” he said. 

Livesay brings more than 20 years of experience in higher education to Michigan Tech. His career began in 2000 at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he was assistant and then associate professor of chemistry. From there, he continued on to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), where he was a founding member of the Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics and developed two of UNCC’s most visible research programs: the bioinformatics and computational biology doctoral program and the Charlotte Research Scholars undergraduate research program.

In 2016, Livesay joined WSU as dean of the Graduate School and associate vice president of research and technology transfer before becoming dean of the College of Engineering in January 2019. Livesay’s research expertise is in the area of protein family sequence, structure and function relationships, with a particular focus on understanding how physical and chemical properties vary with evolutionary divergence. He has spent his career working across disciplinary boundaries and intends to prioritize interdisciplinary work in his role as College of Computing dean.

“The University was fortunate to attract a very strong pool of candidates during this search and I am confident that we have hired the person who will be best able to lead the College of Computing in the coming years,” said Huntoon. “I want to thank Dr. Adrienne Minerick for her tenacity and commitment to Michigan Tech. She provided outstanding leadership for the College from the day it came into existence. Because of her efforts, the College is well positioned to grow in the future.”

Born and raised in Columbus, Indiana, Livesay was a first-generation university student. He will be joined in Houghton by his wife, Lauren, and son, Maxwell. “My family and I are rabid hockey fans,” Livesay said, “and we will be huge supporters of Michigan Tech hockey. In fact, I already have an MTU jersey that I’ve started wearing during rec league.”

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.


Accessible Computing Expert Dr. Richard Ladner to Present Keynote November 13

The ICC’s Center for Human-Centered Computing invites Michigan Tech faculty, staff, students, and alumni to a keynote lecture by leading accessible design expert and research scientist Dr. Richard E. Ladner on Friday, November 13, 2020, at 1:00 p.m., via online meeting.

Join the Zoom meeting here.

His talk, “Accessible K-12 Computer Science Education,” is the final event of HCC’s Husky Research Celebration, a showcase of interdisciplinary HCC research through a series of virtual lab tours, virtual mini talks, and lectures presented in a 360-degree virtual space. More details here.

Ladner is a Professor Emeritus in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, where he has been on the faculty since 1971.

His current research is in the area of accessible computing, a subarea of human-computer interaction (HCI). Much of his current research focuses on accessible educational technology.

Ladner is principal investigator of the NSF-funded AccessComputing Alliance, which works to increase participation of students with disabilities in computing fields. He is also a PI of the NSF-funded AccessCSforAll, which is focused on preparing teachers of blind, deaf, and learning disabled children to teach their students computer science.

Lecture Title: Accessible K-12 Computer Science Education

Lecture Abstract: For the past twelve years there has been rapid growth in the teaching of computer science in K-12 with a particular focus on broadening the participation of students from underrepresented groups in computing including students with disabilities. Popular tools such as Scratch, ScratchJr, and many other block-based programming environments have brought programming concepts to millions of children around the world. Code.org’s Hour of Code has hundreds of activities with almost half using block-based environments. New computer science curricula such as Exploring Computer Science and Computer Science Principles have been implemented using inaccessible tools. In the meantime the United States has about 8 million school children with recognized disabilities which is about 16% of the K-12 student population. It is generally not the case that these students are adequately served by the current K-12 computer science education or any of the block-based programming environments.

In particular, the approximately 30,000 blind and visually impaired children are left out because only a few educational tools are screen reader accessible. In this talk we address this problem by describing two programming environments that are accessible: the Quorum Language and Blocks4All. The Quorum Language, created by Andreas Stefik, is a text-based programming language whose syntax and semantics have been created to be as usable as possible using randomized controlled trials. The language is not at all intimidating to children. For younger children, Lauren Milne created Blocks4All a block-based programming environment that can be used by anyone including children who are blind or visually impaired. Blocks4All uses a touchscreen platform similar to ScratchJr and takes advantage of the fact the blind children already know how to use touchscreen devices using their built-in screen readers. The challenge for the future of K-12 computer science is to be more inclusive to all students regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and disability status.

Founded in 2015, the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) promotes collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and learning experiences in the areas of computing education, cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, data sciences, human-centered computing, and scalable architectures and systems, for the benefit of Michigan Technological University and society at large.

The ICC creates and supports an arena in which faculty and students work collaboratively across organizational boundaries in an environment that mirrors contemporary technological innovation. The ICC’s 55 members represent more than 20 academic disciplines at Michigan Tech.

The Center for Human-Centered Computing (HCC) focuses on the research and development of novel interfaces for human-agent interaction, assistive technologies, intelligent health, computational modeling, and examining trust and decision making in distributed systems.

The Center is directed by Associate Professor Elizabeth Veinott, Cognitive and Learning Sciences, a cognitive psychologist who focuses on two main areas of research: decision making and learning using serious video games.