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Highlights

Stereo Vision for Underwater Archaeology

As co-director of Engineers for Exploration, Prof. Ryan Kastner led expeditions to test an underwater stereo camera system for producing 3D reconstructions of underwater objects. Here Kastner is shown with the camera system in a UCSD pool. Read more…  

Kastner Underwater

Pacific Interlude

Four of the 10 UCSD undergraduates in the 2014 Pacific Rim Experiences for Undergraduates (PRIME) program are CSE majors. (L-r) Allen Nguyen and Lok Yi (Nicole) Wong did research in Japan, while Matthew Schwegler and Katerina Zorko spent the summer in Australia. Read more…

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Girls Day Out

The UCSD chapter of Women in Computing (WiC) held its second annual Girls Day Out in May, bringing roughly 100 girls from San Diego high schools to tour the campus and do hands-on experiments in electronics. Here, girls visit the Qualcomm Institute’s StarCAVE virtual reality room. Read more…  

Girls Day Out

Coding for a Cause

Then-sophomore Sneha Jayaprakash's mobile app, Bystanders to Upstanders (B2U), matches students with opportunities to volunteer for social causes. Together with fellow CSE undergrads, she won a series of grants and awards, and is now doing a startup. Read more...

Sneha Jayaprakash

Photo Finish

CSE alumna Brina Lee (M.S. ’13) was the first full-time female engineer hired at Instagram. Then Instagram was purchased by Facebook, and now Lee is spending much of her time talking to female students about opportunities in computer science. Read more… 

Brina Lee

Internet of Things

Computer scientists at UCSD developed a tool that allows hardware designers and system builders to test security. The tool tags then tracks critical pieces in a hardware’s security system. Pictured (l-r): Ph.D. student Jason Oberg, Prof. Ryan Kastner, postdoc Jonathan Valamehr. Read more…

Internet of Things

Research Expo 2014

At the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Research Expo 2014, CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta (pictured) briefed industry and visitors, and Ph.D. student Matthew Jacobsen won best CSE poster for “Hardware-Accelerated Online Boosting for Tracking.” Read more…

Research Expo 2014

ParentGuardian

Ph.D. student Laura Pina won best paper with Microsoft colleagues at PervasiveHealth 2014 for developing ParentGuardian, a mobile app/sensor detecting stress in parents of children with ADHD. The system helps parents cope with stress in real time. Read more…  

ParentGuardian

New Faculty

Former UC Berkeley professor Ravi Ramamoorthi joined CSE’s visual computing faculty, and he is one of six new CSE faculty hires in 2014. Others include assistant teaching professors Mia Minnes and Leo Porter, and assistant professors George Porter, Daniel M. Kane and Julian McAuley. Read more…

Ravi Ramamoorthi

Fun and Functional

CSE 145 teaches students about embedded systems design, and they do capstone projects. For one team, that meant building Ruku, a robot and mobile app that solves a Rubik’s Cube in 30 seconds. (L-r): William Mutterspaugh, Daryl Stimm and Jonas Kabigting. Read more…

Ruku to solve Rubik's Cube

Overclocked Enthusiasts

CSE alumni, students, staff and faculty turned out in force to run, walk or just cheer on the Overclocked CSE Enthusiasts, the department's main team entered in the Chancellor’s 5K run in June. Prof. Christine Alvarado ranked #1 in her division. Read more…  

5K Race

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

CSE capped the 2012-'13 academic year with the announcement of an anonymous $18.5 million gift from an alumnus – making it the largest-ever alumni gift to UC San Diego. Read more...

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  • Center for Visual Computing Makes Debut at 2015 Research Expo

    The new Center for Visual Computing, an 'agile' research center based in the CSE department, had its official unveiling April 16 during the 2015 Research Expo of the Jacobs School of Engineering. Making it official, CSE Prof. Ravi Ramamoorthi (pictured) presented an outline of the center's current and future activities. He also confirmed that VisComp has lined up Sony as its lead sponsor, with additional partners Qualcomm, Pixar and Adobe. Ramamoorthi said the center hopes to grow membership to at least six companies from a variety of industries, including communication, entertainment, health, 3D printing and more. On the faculty side, VisComp includes Ramamoorthi as director, as well as CSE professors David Kriegman and Henrik Jensen, Qualcomm Institute research scientist Jurgen Schulze, and Zhuowen Tu, an expert in computer vision from Cognitive Science. "The motivation for this agile research center is that computer vision, graphics and imaging are still at a formative stage," said Ramamoorthi, "and they affect all areas of the computing stack from hardware to software to output, and they will have a major impact on our everyday lives."

    Under the banner of "visualizing the way we capture, image and display the visual world," Ramamoorthi spelled out a three-part research agenda for the center: mobile visual computing and digital imaging; interactive digital (augmented) reality (to blend real and virtual scenes seamlessly in real time); and computer vision to understand people and their surroundings, from the individual- to the city-level. "We're witnessing the coming of age of computer vision, where every mobile phone has a camera and is doing fairly complicated processing based on a face detector," said Ramamoorthi. "Every mobile phone will also have access to Internet-scale visual databases, so we can enable semantic understanding of people's gestures, habits and similarities." He showed evidence that computer vision can be used to scan a crowd to detect "tribes" of people with like interests, such as bikers or surfers.

    The VisComp director spelled out some of the innovations that are rapidly changing photography and imaging, notably with virtual-reality devices such as the Oculus Rift, and perhaps more importantly, in the current commercialization of full 4D lightfield cameras, passive devices that capture the entire field of light, so that a photographer can capture an entire scene and choose later which angle, or what part of the image to refocus on. Light-field can also potentially be used to reconstruct three-dimensional (3D) scenes, one of the hottest new areas of interest that is pushing 3D from Hollywood down to the level of the mobile phone. "This enables a number of 3D applications," explained Ramamoorthi. "You can reconstruct 3D surfaces and couple it with the 3D printing industry to create an entire pipeline of 3D capture - just from the capture of a single shot image."

    "I believe the progress we will make in these three themes," he concluded, "have the potential to transform the way we interact with computers and, indeed, how we live our lives."

  • At Research Expo, M.S. Student Selected for Best CSE Poster

    Twenty CSE graduate students presented their research to an estimated 650 people attending the Jacobs School's Research Expo on April 16.

    Among all CSE entries, the computer science best poster award went to Narendran Thangarajan (pictured at left), a Master's student advised by CSE research scientist Nadir Weibel. The poster focused on Thangarajan's work analyzing social media to characterize HIV at-risk populations in San Diego. The researcher went beyond existing research on the feasibility of using Twitter to study HIV spread in the United States.  He took the approach further, "identifying and characterizing HIV at-risk populations locally in the San Diego are at a more granular scale in terms of both demographics and communities." He used dynamic visualizations, social network analysis, graph algorithms and machine-learning techniques to combine information from Twitter and data on HIV-infected patients provided by UC San Diego's AntiViral Research Center. The goal: to "learn how actual HIV-infected users behave on Twitter and build a computational model that can then be applied to other users to investigate similarities in their behaviors." Thangarajan expects to graduate with his M.S. degree this June. [Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications]

    The jury also selected three other CSE posters deserving of Honorable Mentions:

    • Automated Annotation of Coral Reef Survey Images, by Oscar O. Beijbom (advised by David Kriegman and Serge Belongie)
    • Design Guidelines and Optimization of DRAM Interconnect, by Mulong Luo (advised by Andrew B. Kahng)
    • Gadgetron: Synthesizing Electronic Gadgets, by Devon James Merrill (advised by Steven Swanson)
  • Alumna and Incoming Student Cross Paths in B-Ball and Computer Science

    There must be something about hoops, Tritons and computer science. Meet Marissa Hing. The 18-year-old high school senior was on campus last weekend to attend Triton Day, when over 20,000 accepted students and their families converged on UC San Diego to get a taste of everything the university offers to its students-to-be. Despite her 5.1-inch height, Hing is also coming to play basketball on an athletic scholarship for the NCAA Division II team, after starring since her freshman year at Pinewood High School in Los Altos, CA. She has started for four years as a guard on the Pinewood team, and was just selected by the San Jose Mercury-News as its girls basketball player of the year for northern California. The paper noted that she played a leadership role in helping Pinewood reach the CCS Open Division championship game this season. 

    The newspaper was also impressed with what she plans to study at UC San Diego: Hing says she wants to major in computer science, even while juggling a career on the basketball court. “As of right now my major is cognitive science because the computer science major was too full,” says Hing. “But I will be trying to change my major to computer science when I can.”

    Hing says she is attracted to computer science because she likes to know how things work. “It also lets you be creative while also being logical at the same time, which is something that not a lot of other fields offer,” says Hing. “It helps you understand how things work instead of just assuming they do.”

    Given the demands of both b-ball and CS, it may seem an unusual pick on both counts. But someone has proved that it can be done.

    Indeed, Hing is not the first girls basketball star from Pinewood to major in computer science at UC San Diego. Former Pinewood player Rachel Marty arrived in 2010 and went on to play NCAA varsity basketball on the UCSD team while pursuing a degree in CSE with a specialization in bioinformatics. She graduated magna cum laude in four years, despite also playing ball.

    Marty says she played on the UCSD squad with fellow Pinewood graduate Miranda Seto, and she knows Marissa Hing well through the "Pinewood connection." "After I came to UCSD, our Pinewood coach formed a good relationship with the UCSD coaches," explains Marty. "But I have to admit that I didn't know Marissa was planning to study computer science. I can claim the basketball recruitment, not the computer science recruitment, but I'm really excited about it!"

    Now a Ph.D. student in CSE since 2014, Marty says she did recruit one of her fellow basketball team members, Taylor Tanita, to switch to computer science. "I'm a big fan of the program," she observes.

    Marty (pictured at right as an undergraduate varsity basketball player) continues to be a strong career example for young women, athletes and computer scientists (whether from Pinewood High School or not). Last week, she was one of only three UC San Diego computer science graduate students selected in 2015 to receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, a three-year award carrying a stipend of $34,000 per year (plus a $12,000 annual cost-of-education allowance that goes directly to the campus). Some 16,500 students nationwide competed for roughly 2,000 fellowships. 

    The CSE alumna is pursuing her Ph.D. in bioinformatics, and her research interests include cancer genomics, genomic algorithms and population genetics. Marty has done bioinformatics internships at Thermo Fisher Scientific (and Life Technologies, which it acquired) as well as at Illumina, where she developed an "application to centralize the experience of gene exploration for researchers." She has also done research with both CSE Prof. Vineet Bafna (in the field of genomic algorithms) and with Hannah Carter at the UC San Diego School of Medicine's Division of Medical Genetics (on cancer genomics). "I will likely choose one of them to be my advisor at the end of the year," she says. That's when the rotation period of her doctoral program ends. 

    But Marty has also won fans off the court and away from bioinformatics. CSE Prof. Andrew Kahng recommended her for the fellowship. She took an algorithms class with him as an undergraduate, and Kahng also supervised an independent study project when she interned at Life Technologies. "He has played a prominent role in getting me where I am," says Marty. She plans to finish her Ph.D. in 2019.

  • Marriage of Big Data and Medicine Yields Top New Faculty for UC San Diego

    According to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego is quickly becoming the focal point of a nationwide effort to use high-speed computers and smart software to sift through mountains of biomedical data for clues about why people develop everything from cancer to Alzheimer's disease." Science reporter Gary Robbins ask CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta what is driving the recent recruitment of top big-data researchers to UC San Diego and the nearby J. Craig Venter Institute. "Computers are the new microscopes," said Gupta, "and data is the new blood draw."

    While not yet official, the paper confirmed that the School of Medicine has recruited the chief informatics officer at MIT/Harvard's Broad Institute. Jill Mesirov (at left) will join the school in July if her appointment is approved by the Academic Senate. Given her background in high-performance computing, and current interactions with CSE professors Pavel Pevzner and Vineet Bafna, Gupta anticipates that the CSE faculty will apply to grant Mesirov faculty-affiliate status in the CSE department once she has arrived in San Diego. The same happened earlier this year, the CSE awarded faculty-affiliate status to Rob Knight (pictured at right), after he joined the department of pediatrics in the School of Medicine, where he works in bioinformatics as "one of the most respected microbiome experts in the world," according to the Union-Tribune article. Talking about hiring Knight and Mesirov, School of Medicine dean David Brenner said he wants the campus to lead in the field of precision medicine and computational biology. "We're going to leverage all of the strengths of this campus," said Brenner, "from Calit2 to the San Diego Supercomputer Center to Moores Cancer Center to computer science and bioengineering. That means we need to be able to handle large data sets." CSE's Gupta told the newspaper that in bioinformatics, the term 'big data' has become an understatement. "New discoveries show that the genome is but a small part of the overall makeup that spans epigenetic data as well as 100 times more individual-specific microbiome data," Gupta said. "The 'big data' is a tsunami now."



by Dr. Radut