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Grier wins Goldwater Scholarship

We would like to congratulate Mr. Daniel Grier, a junior in Computer Science and Math, on winning the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship to graduate school! This marks the twentieth consecutive year that USC has had one or more Goldwater Scholars. A total of 41 Goldwater Scholarships have been won by USC students since 1990. William "Cole" Franks, Daniel Grier, and Gerry Koons have been named 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars. The 282 Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 mathematics, science, and engineering students, nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The one and two year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded nationally to sophomores and juniors pursuing bachelors’ degrees in natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering and intending to pursue a career in research and/or college-level teaching: virtually all the scholars intend to obtain a PhD in their respective fields. The University, as well as all other institutions of higher education, may only nominate four students for this award. Grier is a junior with a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science, and is a member of the South Carolina Honors College. A National Merit Scholar, he is the recipient of both the Lieber and Palmetto Scholarships, as well as the Wilson Scholarship, given by the department of Computer Science and Engineering for undergraduate research. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, he is also the recipient of the Computer Research Association (CRA) Undergraduate Research Award. His current research includes work with Dr. Stephen Fenner in USC’s Computer Science and Engineering Department on two-player mathematical strategy games played over partially ordered sets. Grier is currently participating in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program in Hungary. He is a member of Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor society, a math tutor at Dreher High School, and plays on the International Men’s Soccer Club Team at USC. Grier plans to complete a PhD in Mathematics and conduct research in discrete mathematics while teaching at the university level. Also see the Daily Gamecock article.

CloudShouts: Another Student Startup

Rishi Patel, a CIS major, along with two other USC students, Ian Castrovinci and Dennis Lopez, have just released CloudShouts. CloudShouts is an iphone, and soon to be Android, app that lets you post messages, photos, and have conversations with other people in the same geographic "cloud". Right now there is a USC cloud, along with 10 other University clouds along the Eastern seaboard. So, go download the free iphone app. From their about page: "CloudShouts was founded by three University of South Carolina students that noticed inefficiencies within their college community. Inspired by foursquare and Localmind, the team strives to solve these inefficiencies by designing their own community-sharing platform. The future of communication is changing fast, and the CloudShouts team is building it."

Graduate Student Day Winners

Once again the department was very successful at Graduate Student Day. We had one first place winner, Jarrell Waggoner, and two second place winners Laura Boccanfuso and Ishtiaq Rouf. Congratulations to both. For the full story see here or the links below.

Dr. Tong Receives NSF Career Award

Dr. Yan Tong, a Computer Science and Engineering assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, College of Engineering and Computing, has received the National Science Foundation's CAREER award. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is NSF's most prestigious award in support of the early career-development activities of junior faculty. The award will support her research on facial recognition, that is, on developing algorithms that can detect whether a person in a video is smiling, angry, confused, etc. This work is innovative in that it blends both visual and auditory information so the software uses both what it sees and what it hears in the video to determine how the person's face looks like. In more detail:
This project develops a unified multimodal and multialgorithm fusion framework to recognize facial action units such as “lip corner raiser” and “lips apart”, which describe complex and rich facial behaviors. This framework systematically captures the inherent interactions between the visual and audio channels in a global context of human perception of facial behavior. Advanced machine learning techniques are developed to integrate these relationships together with uncertainties associated with various visual and audio measurements in the fusion framework to achieve a robust and accurate understanding of facial activity. It is these coordinated and consistent interactions that produce a meaningful facial display. The basic research in this unified fusion framework can foster advanced computer vision and machine learning technologies with applications across a wide range of fields varying from entertainment to psychiatry to human-computer interaction. An integration of research and education promotes cutting-edge training on human-computer interactions to K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students, especially encourages the participation of women in engineering and computing.
The NSF CAREER program recognizes and supports the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. CAREER awardees are selected on the basis of creative career-development plans that effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their institution and department.

Dr. Huang Receives Air Force Research Award

Dr. Huang has received an award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in support of his research on "Collaborative DoD DURIP proposal: A Distributed Platform for Capturing, Analyzing, and Combating Botnet Attacks," which is a collaboration with the University of Texas.

AP Institute in Computer Science

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Carolina will offer in summer 2012 an institute in Computer Science for prospective teachers of AP* Computer Science A. The plan is for the on-campus part of the institute to be held from 18 June through 22 June 2012. Some preparatory work will be required in the two weeks prior to the week on campus, and some work will be submitted in the week following the week on campus.

Dr. Buell on Voting Machines

Dr. Buell's research on voting machines is featured in this article from the Myrtle Beach Online (part 2).
It wasn’t hard to jog the memory of Duncan Buell, a computer science professor at USC and one of the report’s authors, on Friday, more than three months after the report was released. Buell, a voting machine expert, said that ”Horry County has the messiest of the data, perhaps, in the entire state.“
See also Dr. Buell's article Patriocracy Overlooks Internet Voting Security Concerns.

Dr. Vidal Receives NSF Grant Award

Dr. Barry Markovsky (Sociology) and Dr. Jose M Vidal have received and NSF award for their research project "Web-based Tools for Developing and Accessing Sociological Theory." This project brings together researchers from the Sociology department and the Computer Science and Engineering department in order to design, implement and test a web-based system for developing, improving and disseminating sociological theories across all areas of the discipline. “I see it as a cross between stackoverflow and the wikipedia, but targeted towards scientists” said Dr. Vidal. “Both of those sites are showing us how an online community can be formed and function successfully to aggregate the knowledge of many individuals. However, they are not without their drawbacks: stackoverflow enforces a very strick question-and-answers format, while the wikipedia actively discourages scientists from contributing on the topics they have the most expertise (their own research). Our system will try to overcome these limitations.” The researchers hope to build a system what will facilitate the development of improved Sociological, and later scientific, theories using proven incentives and knowledge aggregation methods.

Jonathan Kilby wins Bridging Scholarship

Third year Computer Science and Engineering student Jonathan Kilby was recently awarded one of 20 Bridging Scholarships for Study Abroad in Japan. The Bridging Scholarship is a national award that offers $2500 for a semester-long study program or $4000 for a full academic year, for undergraduate students. It is coordinated by the Association of Teachers of Japanese and funded by private foundations and major U.S. corporations. Jonathan’s interest in Japanese culture and his work toward a Japanese minor influenced his decision to apply for the scholarship, and his strong application helped him beat out a large number of other applicants. Next spring, Jonathan will participate in the USC Global Exchange program to Kansai University in Osaka, Japan, where he will enhance his Japanese skills by taking language and culture classes. He hopes to intern with Sony at one of their Japanese facilities, paving the way for his ultimate goal, to one day live and work in Japan. For more information about the Bridging Scholarship for Study Abroad in Japan, please visit To find out more about the USC Global Exchange to Kansai University or about USC education abroad opportunities in general, please visit

Tenure-track Position Opening in Information Systems

Applications are invited for one tenure-track position at the full professor or associate professor level. Candidates should have a doctorate in information systems, including computer information systems and management information systems. Candidates are expected to demonstrate excellence in both research and teaching. The new faculty member’s responsibilities will include leading the undergraduate degree program in computer information systems as well as teaching courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The support for this position will include low teaching loads, competitive salary, and generous start-up funds. Candidates from all research areas are welcomed. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering is in the College of Engineering and Computing and offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The Department has 21 full-time faculty members (nine of whom are NSF CAREER award recipients), an undergraduate enrollment of 424 students, a graduate enrollment of 88 students, and over $1.8 million in annual research expenditures. New leadership in the College has made growth of the Department a high priority. The University of South Carolina is located in Columbia, the capital and technology center of South Carolina, and is the comprehensive graduate institution in the state with an enrollment of more than 25,000 students. For more information, see Applicants should apply to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Applications must include curriculum vitae, research and teaching plans, and contact information for at least three references. Foreign nationals should indicate current US immigration status. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. The University of South Carolina is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or veteran status. The University of South Carolina is responsive to the needs of dual career couples.

Dr. Wang Receives Air Force Research Award

Dr. Song Wang has been awarded a research grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR/DOD) for his project "Metallic Material Image Segmentation by using 3D Grain Structure Consistency and Intra/Inter-Grain Model Information." The major goal of this project is to develop new effective image-processing algorithms and software tools to automatically segment microscopic images of metallic materials to accurately extract their 3D grain and subgrain structures, which determine mechanical and other important properties of the materials. On the right are a slice of a 3D microscopy polycrystalline titanium grain image and its segmentation result.

Desperate Fishwives: An Educational Game

The Free Times newspaper has an article on Desperate Fishwives, an educational game being developed by Dr. Buell, Dr. Heidi Rae Cooley from Media Arts, and their students. The game aims to teach high school and college students the realities of life in a 17th Century English village by having the player take on the role of various village characters.
John Hodgson, a USC computer science graduate student writing the game’s code, takes things a step further, explaining how immersion in an experiential environment could potentially prove more effective than more traditional classroom approaches. “For students who have never lived in a 17th century English village, which is all of them, how will they know what that experience was like? Well, they can have a teacher tell them, and that might convince some; they’ll be able to regurgitate it on a test. Or we can create an experience about what it might have been like. By playing the game they learn the rules — what’s acceptable, what’s not, what people did what things. Nothing is actually told to them, but because of the way the game is designed they have to accept that reality.”
Update: The USC news also has an article on this research.

High Performance Computing Collaboratory

The Center for Digital Humanities (CDH) at the University of South Carolina will partner with the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) groups, a collaboration made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Drs Jijun Tang and Song Wang are participants in this award. They are working on a Humanities High Performance Computing Collaboratory (HpC) which will engage scholars in a year-long collaboration with computing specialists in order to: 1) receive a comprehensive education in four computational concentrations; 2) receive instruction in digital humanities project design and management; 3) obtain hands-on experience with a variety of technical platforms; 4) work with technical staff to outline pilot explorations in at least one area of computational concentration; and 5) join a year-long virtual community where scholars will support their peers in authoring digital humanities projects.

Students Win UPE Scholarships

Two CSE students, Mr. Martin A. Nenov at the undergraduate level and Mr. Hossen A. Mustafa at the graduate level, won Upsilon Pi Epsilon scholarships for graduate study. We had two winners out of 21 awards given nationwide. UPE is the Honor Society of the Computing Sciences, of which we have a local chapter.

Mussels or Wireless Sensors?

Dr. Xu, working with Dr. Helmuth from the Biology department, spent her Summer on a beach in Oregon testing wireless sensors that would monitor environnemental conditions. The research is being coverend in local news:
Dr. Xu is developing a sensor that looks like a Mussel that can be deployed and will relay information in realtime. The field test is designed to see how the current sensor behaves under real conditions and what changes need to be made to make it successful. If the sensor can be developed, researchers will have access to realtime information and will be able to see how changes in the environment are impacting the marine organisms. This could unlock a treasure trove of information for researchers worldwide. Notice that the sensor is in the shape and color of a Mussel. It is attached to the Mussel bed by an epoxy that hopefully will keep the sensor intact through breaking waves as the tide advances.
Update: This work is now funded by an NSF grant titled "Intertidal Sensor Networks for Climate Change Studies in Intertidal Ecosystems." This is what the hardware looks like:  
The hardware

Automatic Tagging of Photos Taken with Smartphones

Our graduate student Chuan Qin and Prof. Srihari Nelakuditi in collaboration with Systems and Networking Research Group at Duke University developed a system called TagSense for tagging photos taken with smartphones. TagSense leverages multiple sensors on smartphones carried by people to identify them in a picture and tag it with their names and activities. Articles about TagSense appeared in media outlets such as Popular Science. Visit here for more information on TagSense.