By Tiffany Fox, (858) 246-0353, firstname.lastname@example.org
San Diego, Calif., Sept. 29, 2009 — While some students may have marked the return to classes this fall with one last beach party or a back-to-school shopping spree, summer's end led to a blue ribbon for one student at the University of California, San Diego, and a potential multidisciplinary collaboration for at least two others.
Earning top prize for his submission to the Summer Scholars Undergraduate Program's Poster Session was Robert Turner, a then-freshman in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at UC San Diego and a participant in the 10-week-long program, which is sponsored by the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). Turner competed with 23 other students in the poster competition, which showcased the results of weeks of intensive, full-time research and collaboration with faculty advisors from across campus. His poster detailed the goals, procedure, results of his method for using i<Clickers (a popular classroom response system) with Ubiquitous Presenter (a program that uses Tablet PC ink to allow instructors to annotate pre-prepared slides).
"For example," Turner explains, "for a history class, a lecturer would use Ubiquitous Presenter (UP) to prepare a slide that lists five factors that contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. He might then ask the students to 'vote' with their i<Clickers for the factor that contributed most, and then they would have a group discussion to compare answers. Later, the teacher could display the voting results in UP to show how their discussion might have influenced the re-vote."
Adds Turner: "One of the major benefits is that the students' votes are persistent, meaning they're stored on a server. This way, they can be used by students or teachers after lecture to reflect upon their understanding relative to the rest of the class and to see common mistakes and misconceptions."
Turner's poster took first prize for its "great visuals and excellent, concise content," says Maureen Curran, a senior writer for Calit2's Communications department and a judge for the competition. "Although the majority of the posters were excellent, Robert's poster won because it was a great example of all of the points that CSE grad student Barry Demchak discussed in his Summer Scholars seminar about what makes a great poster."
Two other Summer Scholar projects were notable for the collaboration they helped forge between research groups in UC San Diego's Departments of Visual Arts and Cognitive Science. Kedar Reddy, now a senior in the Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts program for visual arts, spent the summer "applying the lens of cultural analytics" to 52 song-dance video sequences from 13 Telugu Cinema films and developing a terminology to describe them.
Reddy used a combination of image processing techniques to measure of parameters for each frame of the videos, such as standard deviation of RGB values per frame and pixel differences between each two subsequent frames. Additionally, he used qualitative methods such as his own observations to note the emotional states of the dancers, ultimately revealing a number of unexpected patterns in how visual and temporal parameters of dance sequences change over a period of decades.
Meanwhile, Reid Oda, now a senior in cognitive science, focused his summer research on "Audio Similarity Data Collection Via Social Games," whereby he developed a Facebook game to collect similarity data for popular music. The game presents users with the first song of a playlist, and then asks them to guess which of four possible songs might come next in the playlist based on its similarity to the first song. The game is step one of a larger process that will ultimately allow computers to mimic human perception and denote similarities between songs without human assistance.
Oda's and Reddy's projects shared enough in common that the Computer Audition Laboratory at UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering (where Oda conducted his research) and Calit2's Center for Research and Computing in the Arts (where Reddy conducted his) will be collaborating on future projects.
"We'll be helping them with audio segmentation in their video analysis and we will be consulting with them on game design," explains Oda. "It's a good synergy!"
This is the ninth year of the highly successful Summer Scholars program. More than 225 UCSD undergraduates have been Calit2 Summer Scholars. Each student received a $3,000 scholarship to participate in this year's program. Research proposals must address the mission of Calit2, which is directed toward research in telecommunications and information technology, as well as advances in a wide range of applications important to the economy and quality of life.
Tiffany Fox, (858) 246-0353, email@example.com