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New Faculty: Dr. Lisa Luo

We are happy to welcome Dr. Lannan (Lisa) Luo to the Department. Dr. Luo received her PhD from Penn State University. Her research mainly focuses on software and systems security, including mobile security, IoT security, malware analysis, vulnerability analysis, programming languages, software engineering, and deep learning. She is teaching CSCE 813: Internet Security and recruiting Ph.D. students, master students, summer interns, and visiting scholars to join her lab.

New Faculty: Dr. Yonghong Yan

We are happy to welcome Dr. Yonghong Yan to the faculty of the CSE department. Dr. Yan received his PhD. from the University of Houston. His research research interests focus on parallel and high performance computing, parallel programming models and compilers, computer architectures and systems. He will be teaching CSCE 790, a graduate special topics course, this semester for any graduate students interested in learning about parallel and high performance computing.

Bryant and Hoffman Awarded GEM National Consortium Fellowship

We are proud to announce that De'Aira Bryant and Blakeley Hoffman have each been awarded a GEM National Consortium Fellowship. Both Bryant and Hoffman were selected by Adobe Systems Incorporated, where they will complete the internship component of the fellowship. The GEM program seeks to enhance the value of the nation's human capital by increasing the participation of underrepresented groups at the master's and doctoral levels in engineering and science. The fellowship provides a stipend, tuition assistance, and a paid summer internship in 2017. More than 4,000 GEM Fellowships have been awarded since the program's inception 41 years ago. The announcement from the Fellowship Office: Bryant graduated this May from the College of Engineering and Computing with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. She is the recipient of the Solomon Jackson Jr. Scholarship, the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, and the Valedictorian Scholarship, as well as the 2016 Lillie J. James Computer Science Award and most recently the 2017 NSF GRFP. Her undergraduate research over the last three years has been in the Assistive Robotics and Technology Lab, under the mentorship of Dr. Jenay Beer, partially funded with a Magellan Scholarship. Much of her work went towards "Ms. An the Robot Tutor," a project involving the use of an NAO humanoid robot as a mathematics tutor for elementary school students. The co-founder and current president of Minorities in Computing at USC, she is also a member of Women in Computing, Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society, Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has also volunteered with FIRST Robotics Competitions, the Hour of Code, and the CEC Engineering Week Open House for several years. Bryant will intern with Adobe Systems Inc. this summer and begin her PhD in Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall. Bryant plans to become a university professor of computer science conducting research in the field of human-computer interaction. Hoffman graduated this May from the South Carolina Honors College with majors in Computer Science and Mathematics. She is the Joseph Land Carolina Scholar, a 2016 Grace Hopper Scholar, a Lieber Scholar and a Palmetto Fellow. During her time as an undergraduate, Hoffman has conducted research exploring the use of humanoid robots as math tutors, algorithms for maximizing social welfare, and machine learning algorithms for autonomous driving. She has published in AAMAS, an internationally recognized conference in multiagent systems, and has presented her research across the country at institutions such as Stanford and UC Berkeley. Hoffman is committed to outreach and diversity in STEM. She is a founding member and the current Co-President of USC's Women in Computing chapter, has co-founded a local Google CS First club, and serves as a College of Engineering and Computing Ambassador. Next year, Hoffman plans to pursue a Masters in Media Arts and Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and will conduct research to understand how technology is changing the nature of human cooperation and to design technologies to scale up human cooperation. GEM Fellowship candidates are supported by the University's Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs, established in 1994 to assist students for national fellowship competitions and by the University of South Carolina's GEM advisor, Dr. Mike Matthews of the College of Engineering and Computing. Of this year's winners, Dr. Matthews noted "De'Aira and Blakely exemplify the spirit of No Limits at the University of South Carolina. They show how much a person can achieve when they seize some of the many opportunities available. Our Department of Computer Science and Engineering is a leader in producing graduates who will help address the urgent need for diversification of the workforce of in our high tech industries." To learn more about national fellowships and competitions visit

Machine Vision for Detecting Water Droplets

Dr. Yan Tong has received a research grant award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) for "NSF-EPRI: Innovative and Ultra-efficient Evaporators to Realize Cost-effective Desalination”. This project aims to relieve the water-energy-food issues facing the US and the world by substantially reducing the cost of sea water desalination, making it possible to obtain massive freshwater from seawater. Yan's group will develop a fully automatic vision-based technique to detect droplets and to estimate the individual droplet departure frequency and size by non-rigid image registration and onsite-calibration. This vision-based technique is essential to reduce massive data from high-speed optical images to assure a consistent data reduction process.

Backers and Hackers Winners

The winning team for this year's Backers and Hackers is Mingxiang Zhu, Tieming Geng, and Hongrui Zhang for their app connect2icu, a secure mobile app to assist families while their child is in a neonatal or pediatric intensive care unit. Backers and Hackers is a completely student-run initiative organized by the Entrepreneurship Club and the College of Engineering and Computing at USC. The program brings together Columbia’s entrepreneurial community and USC’s mobile app development students to transform app ideas into reality. Second place went to Visha Shah, Andrew Freix, and Uday Bhat for their app RedRope, an app that gives users a convenient, affordable option to skip bar entrance lines. Third place to Rickey Ward and Adam Hogan for their app Noticed, a mobile app that unifies college event discovery and event adver­tisement

Xian Wu receives Two Thumbs Up Award

We are happy to report that Xian Wu, a PhD student in CSE working in the ART Lab, has received the Two Thumbs Up award. Two Thumbs Up awards were created to recognize faculty and staff members across campus who have made a significant difference in a student’s experience at the University of South Carolina. The recipients of these awards are nominated by students with registered with the Office of Student Disability Services.

Magellan Award Winners

We congratulate the following undergraduate students who have received a USC Magellan award in the last year, they are Emma Drobina, Judson James, Abraham Khan, Liudas Panavas, Harrison Engoren, Noemi Glaeser, Caleb Kisby, Briana Luckey, Jonathan Senn, Charles Daniels, De'Aira Bryant, Bethany Janos, Molly Carlson. Their respective research topics are shown below. You can also view the full list of winners and instructions for applying. The Summer-Fall 2017 winners are:
  • Emma Drobina, Pay attention! Re-engaging 5th grade math students using an adaptive robot tutor.
  • Judson James, Developing an App to Examine Young Children's Music Development through Serious Gaming
  • Abraham Khan, The Computational Complexity of Enumerating the Linear Extensions of a Dimension Two Poset.
  • Liudas Panavas, Part Criticality in Inventory Management
The Spring 2017 winners are:
  • Harrison Engoren, The Probability of Sudoku: The Bounds of the Cardinality of Minimal Fair Sudoku Puzzles
  • Noemi Glaeser, Generating Geographic and Temporal Heat Maps of Aflatoxin Incidence using Regularized Linear Models
  • Caleb Kisby, Exploring Non-finitely Based Finite Algebras
  • Briana Luckey, Distributed Monitoring and Control of Photovoltaic Generation
  • Jonathan Senn, Validating in vitro models for Aflatoxin production in maize using a new open database of field sample data
  • Charles Daniels, Magellan Apprentice, Generalized Hough Transform on the Tegra X1 Embedded SOC Architecture
The Summer-Fall 2016 winners are:
  • De'Aira Bryant, Engaging Minorities in Computer Science via Online Game & Robot Hip-Hop Dance
  • Bethany Janos, Monitoring Smoking Behavior through the use of Smartwatch Applications
  • Molly Carlson, Enhancing Features of the Lone Woman Archive: An Interdisciplinary Approach

It is Possible to Hack a Phone With Sound Waves

This NY Times article describes research by Dr Wenyuan Xu and colleages at the University of Michigan into how to maliciously control a phone's accelerometer using sound waves.
In their paper, the researchers describe how they added fake steps to a Fitbit fitness monitor and played a "malicious" music file from the speaker of a smartphone to control the phone’s accelerometer. That allowed them to interfere with software that relies on the smartphone, like an app used to pilot a radio-controlled toy car.
The video below explains their research.
The image is taken from their paper.

Dr. Wang Receives NSF Award for Design Reconstruction Algorithm

Dr. Song Wang has received a research grant award from the National Science Foundation for his project entitled "Algorithm Development for Reconstruction of Design Elements". This is an interdisciplinary study between archaeology and computer science to develop and disseminate a program that can identify the full artistic design from fragmented cultural heritage objects. Specifically, it will develop the algorithm to identify the designs of the carved wooden paddles of the Southeastern Woodlands from unearthed pottery sherds. Research also described in USC News: Fingerprints to the past. Image from
  • Jun Zhou, Haozhou Yu, Karen Smith, Colin Wilder, Hongkai Yu, Song Wang. Identifying designs from incomplete, fragmented cultural heritage objects by curve-pattern matching J. Electron. Imaging. 26(1), 011022 (Jan 05, 2017). doi:10.1117/1.JEI.26.1.011022.
  • Dr. Valtorta Receives Grant Award for Probabilistic Reasoning

    Dr. Marco Valtorta has received an award from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to work on the Co-Arg: Cogent Argumentation System with Crowd Elicitation project, lead by George Mason University. This project aims to improve the quality of intelligence analysis reports. Dr. Valtorta's work will develop a probabilistic reasoning component to complement the Wigmorean argument structures used as the main representation in the Co-Arg project. Argument structures will be translated into Bayesian networks, thus uncovering subtleties and complexities, such as evidence-induced dependencies, synergistic effects, and antagonistic effects, which will be resolved by analysts or via crowdsourcing.

    Dr. Terejanu Receives Grant Award from the NIDA/USDA

    Dr. Gabriel Terejanu has received a research award from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)/USDA for his project, "TOXIMAP: Computational Framework for Prediction of Geographical and Temporal Incidence of Mycotoxins in US Crop Fields". This project will develop a general predictive modeling framework for calculating aflatoxin occurrence in US crop fields before harvest, and package this knowledge in a user-friendly predictive web/mobile interface for generating nation-wide and real-time aflatoxin hazard maps. This project has the potential to change certain behaviors in crop management to improve food safety.

    We are a Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site in Computational Robotics

    Dr. Jason O’Kane and Dr. Jenay Beer have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to help create a Research Experiences for Undergraduates site for Applied Computational Robotics. This work will have significant impact by involving talented undergraduate students from around the southeast in robotics research projects here at USC. This experience will encourage these students to pursue graduate studies and research-oriented industry positions. We are proud of your efforts. Congratulations! Visit to learn more and apply to this program.