Konecni defends PhD dissertation on visual analytics
Shawn Konecni, a doctoral student in UMass Lowell's Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology Program, successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, entitled “Scenario Design for Evaluation of Visual Analytics Tools to Support Biomedical Research,” on March 23, 2011. Konecni's research was advised by Prof. Georges Grinstein of the Computer Science department.
Konecni's research aims to increase awareness of important visual analytics problems, and improve evaluation methodologies for complex visual analytics systems.
In his doctoral project, he leveraged the Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST) challenge framework, a contest designed to advance visual analytics tools and methods.
Konecni developed custom scenarios and synthetic data sets, including multiple mini-challenges, based on a hypothetical pandemic outbreak involving a rapidly evolving fictitious virus. After analyzing the data sets made possible by his scenarios, Konecni presented a series of recommendations, to “enable the design of scenarios that push the forefront of visual analytics research relevant to real-world biomedical research problems.”
Prof. Grinstein noted that Konecni's work “integrates not just biological and chemical knowledge, but also modeling and computer science to solve extremely complex problems including for example bioterrorism and drug discovery. Whereas most work is often done as prototypes that provide examples of the research, his work has been immediately used both by Pfizer and analysts around the world. He has handled this pressure quite well, and his work is broad and superb.”
Konecni's dissertation committee readers were Dr. Haim Levkowitz (Computer Science) and Dr. Kenneth Marx (Chemistry).