The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded CSE Ph.D. student Natalie Larson a Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Fellowship for three years to finish her doctorate. The fellowship will cover all of her costs in return for a commitment to work the next two summers and at least three years in a DoD lab after graduating in 2017.
“After graduating I hope to continue doing work in the field of Internet science,” says Larson (at right). “It’s an area whose importance to the Department of Defense’s science and technology enterprise should only grow with time, and the work I will be doing – ensuring national security – will be important and meaningful.”
Larson will work with the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Corona, 92 miles north of San Diego, and she hopes to select a Ph.D. topic in the general field of Internet congestion that would tie into the work she will be doing in Corona. “There are no formal constraints on the research I do while at UCSD,” says Larson. “However, I am hoping that new research directions will emerge from my interactions with NSWC Corona, and that the work I do in the coming years can be beneficial for both UCSD and the Navy.”
In her first year at UCSD, Larson worked with CSE Prof. Scott Baden on scientific computing, but for the past year she has worked with the Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) in SDSC, formerly known as the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis. This summer Larson is working at Simula Research Lab in Norway with CAIDA collaborators on analyzing congestion in Norwegian mobile broadband networks.
CAIDA Director KC Claffy (a CSE faculty-affiliate) and CSE Prof. Geoffrey Voelker, who recommended Larson for the SMART award, are her Ph.D advisors. CAIDA Research Scientist Amogh Dhamdhere has also been a key mentor for Larson.
Larson has been active in CSE on many fronts. She has TA’d courses on Computer Networks (CSE 123), Introduction to Programming in Java (CSE 8A), as well as Mathematics for Algorithms and Systems Analysis (CSE 21). One of three CSE representatives to UCSD’s Graduate Student Association, Larson is also a member of Women in Computing – and she received a $1,500 grant from the Center for Networked Systems (CNS) to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in 2013. She also received a travel grant to attend the Internet Traffic Monitoring and Analysis Workshop this spring in London, where she presented a poster on interdomain Internet congestion.
The CSE student admits that hers has been an “unconventional odyssey” – from a B.A. in art at Grinnell College in 2006, to a graduate program in philosophy, then switching gears, Larson earned dual B.S. degrees in mathematics and computer science at Vanderbilt University, before enrolling at UCSD in 2012.
CSE Prof. Yuanyuan (YY) Zhou’s Whova team was out in force July 18-19 at the inaugural Women Investing in Women (WIIW) Summit in San Diego – appropriately enough, given that Whova was founded by two women (Zhou and former postdoc Soyeon Park). The summit was a major networking opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors, and organizers enlisted Zhou’s help in deploying the free Whova Mobile App for iOS and Android to be used by attendees. In addition to networking – and making it easy to view profiles of other attendees in each session – the Whova app allowed users to customize the agenda by adding specific sessions of interest, to send in-app messages to other attendees to arrange private meetings, to exchange contact information, and to access lists of other attendees who share the same professional or academic background. Whova also includes an easy interface that allowed attendees to send Twitter messages directly via the app. But according to Whova, the most popular feature at the WIIW Summit was also the newest. Called Slide/Album, the feature lets users upload and download presentation slides or other relevant materials to supplement the presentation.
In February, Facebook expanded its Facebook Open Academy to UC San Diego and nine other top computer science schools, in addition to Stanford and 14 other schools admitted in 2012 and 2013. The 2014 program kicked off with approximately 250 students and faculty from 25 schools assembling at Facebook headquarters to meet with mentors from 22 open-source projects (such as Ruby on Rails, Mozilla Firefox and Wikimedia). The Open Academy specifically encourages practical, applied software-engineering experiences for undergraduates by matching them with active open-source projects and mentors. According to Jay Kunin, executive director of the Jacobs School of Engineering's Moxie Center for Student Entrepreneurship, “we had 11 undergrad CSE students complete the course, which spanned the Winter and Spring quarters.” For the prize contest, each student was asked to develop a project summary for the Open Academy.
In mid-July Facebook informed Kunin that CSE junior Wai Ho Leung (at left) had submitted one of the four winning papers, related to his work with the Waterbear Open Source Project, a visual programming toolkit that aims to make programming more accessible and fun, especially for self-educated learners. "I have been helping with designing a simple-to-use integrated development environment [IDE] and localizing Waterbear," says Leung, who is working full-time this summer at Websense. "I believe a simple IDE sets up a friendly learning environment, which is the key to drawing people's interest in programming."
Leung’s prize: an Oculus VR development kit for the headline-grabbing Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset, primarily used in its early incarnation for 3D gaming. Mulling over ideas about what to develop, the student thinks his first project will be a 3D flight simulator.
Leung is no stranger to software development challenges. Since his AP Computer Science teacher at Gabrielino High School in San Gabriel, Calif., urged him to do so, Leung has competed or mentored students in IBM’s Master the Mainframe competition five years in a row. As a university freshman, he also entered the UCSD Programming Contest. In CSE he tutored roughly 500 students in Java, Android, PHP, C++ and other topics over a 15-month period. Leung expects to graduate from UC San Diego in 2015 with dual B.S. degrees in Computer Engineering and Mathematics-Computer Science. To supplement his formal education at UC San Diego, Leung says he joined the CSE 198 Autograder team as a sophomore. (Autograder is an application that will grade programming assignments automatically and publish the grades online.) "We plan to release a beta version of Autograder this fall," says Leung.
After graduation, he plans to work as a software engineer, but his dream is to start his own business eventually. Meanwhile, Leung says he will remain involved with Waterbear open-source project. "Ten years from now programming will most likely become a required course for primary and secondary schools," he notes. "I am hoping that Waterbear will be used to teach programming to the next generation."
At the 36th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society which runs from July 24-26 in Quebec City, CSE Prof. Gary Cottrell (at right) and his Cognitive Science Ph.D. student Ben Cipollini will be honored with a best-paper award. This Thursday, July 24, they will receive the Computational Modeling Prize for Perception/Action. It awards the modeling paper in one of four categories of computational cognitive modeling. (The other three categories are Applied Cognition, Higher-Level Cognition, and Language.) The prize-winning research, “A Development Model of Hemispheric Asymmetry of Spatial Frequencies,” will be presented in a session on Cognitive Development—Reasoning that afternoon. In the paper, they put forward a “differential encoding (DE) model” which suggests that “lateralization in visual processing of spatial frequencies is the result of a postulated asymmetry in the spatial spread of connections with the retino-topic visual cortex.” The authors connected lateralized function to anatomical asymmetries, and the anatomical asymmetries to temporal asymmetries in development.
The same day as he and Cipollini receive their $1,000 award, Cottrell will watch as one of his Ph.D. students, Panqu Wang, gives a talk on modeling the relationship between face and object recognition (a paper co-authored by Cottrell and Vanderbilt University’s Isabel Gauthier). On Thursday, Cottrell will also present a poster at the conference on some of the work he did during his year-long sabbatical in Dijon, France, with University of Burgundy professor Bob French. In it, they explain what Cottrell and French have dubbed TRACX 2.0, a “memory-based, biologically-plausible model of sequence segmentation and chunk extraction.”