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| Carnegie Mellon Today | > News Flash
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Call Me, Maybe
Odds are, a smartphone’s in your pocket. What’s its battery level? You’re probably tempted to check. The red battery indicator may no longer be such a bane. The Qatar National Research Fund awarded the Best Computing and Information Technology Research Program of the Year to Khaled Harras, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Qatar campus for his work on OPERETTA, a system that optimizes energy saving, conserving up to 44% of battery power without sacrificing performance.
Not to be outdone, Qatar computer science student Dania Abed Rabbou won the Best Student Computing and Information Technology Research of the Year for SCOUT—it combines your social networking with your current location to provide real-time mobile services, like restaurant recommendations.
—Michelle Bova (DC’07)
The Siebel Scholars Foundation has named five CMU graduate students — Sanjiban Choudhury (CS’13), Ruta Desai (CS’13), Min Kyung Lee (CS’13), Martina Rau (CS’13), and Zeyu Zheng (CS’13)—to the 2013 class of Siebel Scholars. The Siebel Scholars program recognizes the most talented students at the world’s leading graduate schools of business, bioengineering, and computer science. The scholars are chosen based on academic achievement and leadership. On average, Siebel Scholars rank in the top 5% of their classes, many within the top 1% percent. Each receives a $35,000 award for his or her final year of study.
In Other Words
The Hamburg Dramaturgy of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, a collection of German essays published from 1767 to 1769, laid the foundation of theatrical criticism as scholars and artists know it today. Unfortunately, the only English translation of the work is antiquated and incomplete (missing more than 30% of the full text). Not for long. Wendy Arons will lead a team that will translate the text in its entirety, digitally publishing the chapters as they go (much like Lessing’s serialized original). The CFA professor aims to complete the print edition by 2015. The work of translating a nearly 600-page text is being funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, a first for the School of Drama.
—Olivia O’Connor (DC’13)
During his freshman year at CMU, Kevin Joy joined the university’s black student organization, Spirit. It was the first time he took an active role in promoting diversity—and it “felt good.” Years later, at Goldman Sachs, Joy (E’89) co-championed one of the teams responsible for diversity in recruiting. Today, he is settled into a job at Heartland Funds, in charge of institutional client development. His career progression has landed him a spot on Diversity MBA Magazine’s list of 2012 Top 100 Under 50 Diverse Executives. —Elizabeth Shestak (DC’03)
Kevin A. Joy, MBA - 2012 Top 100 Under 50 Diverse Executives
How do you mend a broken heart? If you’re lovesick, time or distance might do the trick. If your heart is actually damaged, however, bioengineered protein scaffolds are a much better choice. Adam Feinberg and his team use biomaterial inspired by embryonic cells to help regenerate and repair heart muscles, along with improving wound healing in general. The Carnegie Mellon engineering professor is one of 81 researchers nationwide to be awarded a five-year, $2.25 million National Institutes of Health award to “pursue visionary science that exhibits the potential to transform scientific fields.”
—Janet Jay (DC’07)
Steve Smith often drives home this way, stopping at Whole Foods. Yet today, the familiar route feels faster. Beside him, his iPhone logs his times between intersections. Smith, director of the Intelligent Coordination and Logistics Laboratory in CMU’s Robotics Institute, not only feels a difference, he’s measuring it—and he helped create it.
Over three months, his team crisscrossed streets in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood, testing their pilot system, Surtrac (Scalable Urban Traffic Control), which uses a hybrid stoplight bundled with video cameras and a Surtrac processor.
Here’s how it works: When the video cameras see approaching traffic, the Surtrac processor computes a plan for how all of the vehicles are going to move through, Smith says. The stoplight then follows Surtrac’s plan, streamlining traffic flow, and Surtrac shares the data with other stoplights to minimize cumulative delay for a larger area.
Smith began with a software model, simulating how a few strategic Surtrac stoplights would improve Pittsburgh’s downtown traffic. After successfully mastering this exercise, he looked for a real-world testing ground that became East Liberty.
The neighborhood was selected after Smith was stopped at a red light down the street from Whole Foods: “I looked up and realized the lights had cameras.” This pre-existing equipment made East Liberty a “low-cost site.” Last year, the team drove the test area’s 12 busiest routes, setting a benchmark. Three months later, they collected data again, with Surtrac scheduling the stoplights.
In results announced last September, the pilot reduced travel time by 25% and cut vehicle emissions by 21%. Smith plans to expand the pilot in Pittsburgh this year and, eventually, to other cities.
—Aaron Jentzen (DC’12)
During a summer internship at the Santa Fe institute, Amy Wesolowski found herself working with Nathan Eagle, a postdoc researching cell phone data to track trends of human travel in Kenya.
“The possibility of using cell phone data to look at behavior questions interested me,” she says, so she made that project her senior thesis. The collaboration didn’t stop there. Eagle’s wife, Caroline Buckee, is an evolutionary biologist specializing in infectious disease. She thought it would be interesting to see whether cell phone data could quantify the impact of human travel on malaria.
“I’d been working on the travel data—the statistical side of it—and she was studying the epidemiology of malaria, so it just fell together in a nice way,” recalls Wesolowski.
Last fall, Wesolowski—a third-year doctoral candidate in CMU’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy—was the lead author of a paper published in the prestigious journal Science that tracked the cellphone use of 15 million Kenyans, mapping their travel patterns then correlating the findings with malaria prevalence data.
“For a given region, this can help provide an estimate of the parasite’s origin,” she says. “Once you know that, you can target localized intervention strategies, such as indoor spraying or distribution of bed nets, to prevent its spread.”
The stakes are high: of 41 million Kenyans, 25 million are at risk for contracting malaria; tens of thousands die from it every year.
This fall, Wesolowski will join colleagues in Kenya who are partnering with local health agencies to help eradicate this scourge. She plans to spend six to nine months there as part of her work toward her PhD.
—Cary Groner (A’80)
The cultural landscapes of Pittsburgh and New York are brighter because of Maria Sensi Sellner’s and Chris Fecteau’s rising stars. They were recently awarded the American Prize in Conducting for their contributions to the world of classical music. Sellner (E’01, ’03; A’02, ’07, ’09) won in the university/college division for conducting the Carnegie Mellon Opera in its production of Puccini’s “Suor Angelica,” and Fecteau (A’90) won in the community division for his work as artistic director of the dell’Arte Opera Ensemble, a New York City company he founded in 2000.
—Paul Carboni (DC’13)
When Abigail Simmons sat down with her CMU genetics professor, Aaron Mitchell, to chat about her future, she was grateful for the mentoring. But as the conversation turned to Mitchell’s research projects and Simmons’ summer plans, she began to suspect that their meeting was more than just a friendly check-in. When she opened her email a few hours later to find that Mitchell had offered her a research position in his lab, she was thrilled. A hectic spring semester followed, as Simmons sent out grant and fellowship applications to finance the opportunity. Her effort paid off when she was selected for the highly competitive American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Simmons (S’13), one of only 56 recipients, was awarded support for her summer research as well as the chance to present at the 113th ASM General Meeting this spring.
—Olivia O’Connor (DC’13)
Busy HR professionals often rely on trade publications for their field’s latest research, but these second-hand accounts “come with opinion,” says Jessica Winter-Franklin, a senior human resources manager for software company CTR Systems. Now, practitioners like Winter-Franklin can access support and scientific studies online through the Center for Evidence-Based Management, an international consortium led by CMU professor Denise Rousseau . For her contributions to evidence-based management, HR magazine voted her No. 7 in its list of the “Most Influential 2012 Top 20 International Thinkers.”
—Aaron Jentzen (DC’12)
Tony Wasserman sees his teaching mission as turning students into “software leaders.” Wasserman, who led creation of the master’s program in software management at CMU Silicon Valley, frequently finds that his students already have extensive experience in the workforce.
“Often, they’ve been software developers for years and have good skills,” he says. “But to get to the next stage of their careers, they don’t want to sit in their cubicle writing code. They want to understand how software is built, how products are defined, how businesses are run, and how to manage people. Our program gives them the foundation they need to talk more effectively with management, to work with peers in other departments, and to get away from this head-down, hands-on-the-keyboard approach they’ve been stuck in.”
This kind of personal attention earned Wasserman the 2012 Distinguished Educator Award from the Technical Council on Software Engineering of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.
—Cary Groner (A’80)
Fortune 500 manufacturers can waste millions of dollars if they don’t carefully plan where and how much to make and buffer against uncertainty. The losses affect their profits—and stock prices—so dramatically that, according to Sridhar Tayur, enterprise (or global multi-stage) inventory optimization (EIO) has been their “holy grail” since the 1950s. In recognition of the Tepper professor’s research that has helped solve that problem, he was made a 2012 fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.
—Lorelei Laird (DC’01)
In the confines of an MRI room, a child listens to his favorite songs while waiting for the doctors to complete medical tests. What he doesn’t know is that this procedure can deliver loads of information, possibly changing the course of his life and others diagnosed with autism.
For more than 20 years, researchers have struggled with the science behind the developmental disorder that, among several behavioral traits, makes it difficult for autistic individuals to interact or communicate with others.
One of the major obstacles to advancing autism research has been the inability to standardize data sets collected from patients worldwide—until last fall. Leaders in the autism research field joined together to form the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE) program.
Recognized for its collaborative approach and strong research record, Carnegie Mellon’s Cognitive Neuroscience Lab was among the first research groups selected to be part of the consortium. Others include the International Neuroimaging Data-Sharing Initiative, Child Mind Institute, Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, and the Kennedy Krieger Institute. The consortium is working with more than 1,100 autism and control data sets from a group of 16 international research labs.
It’s the hope of the scientific community that results from ABIDE’s exchange program will help researchers better understand the condition and develop treatments.
“There are so many dimensions to autism. It’s like a Rubik’s Cube, and difficult to see and understand all the different facets at once,” says Marlene Behrmann, professor of psychology and director of CMU’s Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. She and her colleagues believe that earlier autism diagnosis, made possible by the analyses enabled by the ABIDE consortium, will lead to better care.
—Lisa Kay Davis (DC’09)