Entries tagged with “awards” from College of Sciences

Profs. Fred Martin (Computer Science) and Michelle Scribner-MacLean (Graduate School of Education) were guests at the Fifth Annual River Day, hosted by Congresswomen Niki Tsongas on September 15, 2011.

Martin and Scribner-MacLean joined Rep. Tsongas on the banks of the Concord River to describe their new four-year, $1.3M NSF award to create an internet-based platform, dubbed iSENSE, which will engage students in data-intensive science inquiry. Working with a number of school systems in the Merrimack Valley, Martin and Scribner-MacLean will support teachers in integrating the internet-based technology into their science instruction. Machine Science Inc., of Cambridge, MA, is a grant partner, and will involve schools in the Boston area in project work.

The grant also includes a partnership with the Tsongas Industrial History Center and the National Park Service. Martin and Scribner-MacLean will work with staff at these two institutions to develop a new version of their River As A Classroom field trip, which brings middle- and high-school students onto the Merrimack River to study water quality. Students and teachers who participate in the new river-based field trip will use the project’s “iSENSE” technology to record, visualize, and discuss river water quality measurements.

At the River Day event, Martin and Scribner-MacLean had the opportunity to present their work to the Lock Masters, a Lowell-based volunteer group who operates the centuries-old canal locks system in the city, and high school students from the Spindle City Corp, who volunteer their service for beautification projects in the city.


(L-R) Prof. Fred Martin, U.S. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, and Prof. Michelle Scribner-MacLean on the banks of the Concord River behind the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center. For more information about Martin and Scribner-MacLean’s new science education award, see this story.
Prof. Jesse Heines (Computer Science) is the leader of a multi-departmental UMass Lowell team that has been awarded $450K from the National Science Foundation for their project, Computational Thinking through Computing and Music. Profs. Gena Greher and Alex Ruthmann (both of UMass Lowell’s Music Department) are co-PIs on the award.

In “Performamatics,” an earlier NSF project led by Heines, a number of partnerships between computing and the arts were created.  As part of this work, Heines, Greher, and Ruthmann developed an interdisciplinary undergraduate course, Sound Thinking, which has been offered at UMass Lowell for each of the last three years.

Building on this work, the new award focuses on ways to engage both computing, music, and students of other disciplines in “computational thinking,” an emerging idea in computer science education.

In the new project, the faculty team will leverage the natural relationship between music and computing to teach computational thinking concepts across the undergraduate curriculum, including both introductory general education courses, and discipline-specific music and computing courses at more advanced levels.

The team will also lead workshops to share their approaches with undergraduate faculty across the United States.

For more, please see UMass Lowell's eNews article, New Curriculum Combines Computing and Music, and the project web site, performamatics.org.

Heines_160x200.jpg Gena_Greher_opt_200.jpg Ruthmann-opt200.jpg
(L-R) Profs. Jesse Heines (Computer Science), Gena Greher (Music), and Alex Ruthmann (Music).

Prof. Xinwen Fu of Computer Science was awarded a grant entitled “Membership Inference in a Differentially Private World and Beyond” from NSF’s Trustworthy Computing program. The award is a great boost to the security program of the Computer Science Department and will strengthen its national status in related fields.

The award funds a three-year research agenda among three universities—George Washington University, Towson University, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The overall award totals $495K and UMass Lowell’s share is $166K.

The objective of the research project is to systematically understand, evaluate and contribute to the problem of membership inference in aggregate data publishing, which is a generic, novel, and dangerous privacy threat in a wide variety of real-world applications.

The central idea to be developed for addressing the problem of membership inference is an information-theoretic model of privacy disclosure as a noisy communication channel. Based on the channel coding theory and the recent advance in multi-input multi-output (MIMO) communication channels, the research will study novel techniques for membership inference and explores the corresponding privacy-preserving mechanisms.

The outcome of this research has broader impacts on the nation’s higher education system and high-tech industries. The prospect of sensitive membership information disclosure techniques and privacy-preserving techniques can help the providers of aggregated data publishing, including national health organizations, Internet security service providers, and others to secure their published data.

Prof. Fu is a member of the Computer Science department’s Center for Network and Information Security (CNIS). His research focuses on network security and privacy, network and computer forensics, and distributed systems.

Prof. Xinwen Fu (Computer Science)
Prof. James Propp of the Mathematical Sciences Department has been awarded the 2011–2012 Chancellor’s Professorship in Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Propp will teach a graduate course in the mathematics department while conducting research at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI). His course will focus on recent advances in the theory of random surfaces and the theory of random aggregation. Many of the researchers who contributed to this work will also be in residence at MSRI, and he is excited at the prospect of serving as a liaison between those visiting researchers and the Berkeley graduate students taking his course.

Prof. Propp also plans to organize and host an evening presentation open to the public, showcasing the visual beauty of this branch of mathematics.

Propp says he fell in love with Berkeley (the university and the city) when he did his graduate work there in the 1980s, and says he is delighted that the Math Department has invited him to return in such an honored capacity. He noted that “my kids are really excited that they'll get to go to the Exploratorium again next year.”

Prof. James Propp (Mathematical Sciences)


This image, created by Brown University mathematician Rick Kenyon, shows a random tiling of a hexagon by rhombuses in three orientations. In the 1990s, Propp and his collaborators proved the “arctic circle theorem” for these tilings, showing that if one randomizes such a tiling, the tiles in the six corners tend to align with one another while the tiles in the middle do not; the boundary between aligned and non-aligned subregions becomes increasingly circular as the size of the hexagon is increased.

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