Margaret Burnett, Distinguished Professor of computer science, was awarded the 2020 iGIANT Champion Award for her outstanding research contributions to inclusive software design. iGIANT® (impact of Gender/Sex on Innovation and Novel Technologies) is a nonprofit corporation that promotes best practices for gender/sex-specific design elements.

“I am honored to be recognized for my work with iGIANT, but all of it was a team effort,” Burnett said.  “None of it would have been possible without the help of many other volunteers, including Larissa Letaw and Jillian Emard here at OSU, working together to help iGIANT’s mission of inclusiveness and equitable experiences for all genders.”

Over the last decade, much of Burnett’s research has focused on gender inclusiveness in software. Her internationally recognized work in this area with students and collaborators has shown gender differences in ways people problem solve with software.

Burnett developed a method called GenderMag with her collaborators that enables IT professionals to identify and eliminate gender biases in the software. She and Anita Sarma, associate professor of computer science, lead the research team that is helping academic and industry partners develop inclusive design for software and websites. Their work was featured in the story, “Oregon State leads fight against gender bias in software,” published by Oregon State’s news and research communications office.

Gabor Temes (right) works with doctoral student Yanchao Wang.

Gabor Temes, professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been named to the rank of fellow by the National Academy of Inventors, the highest professional distinction bestowed upon academic inventors.

According to the academy’s website, “The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.”

Temes’ work in analog circuits has led to improvements in cell phones, medical devices and other technologies.

“My students and I contributed to the development of new data converters, which are used in many hundreds of millions of devices,” he said.

Temes received his undergraduate education at the Technical University and Eotvos University in Budapest, Hungary, from 1948 to 1956, and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Ottawa, Canada, in 1961.

In addition to Oregon State, he has held academic positions at the Technical University of Budapest, Stanford University and UCLA and worked in industry at Northern Electric R&D Laboratories (now Bell-Northern Research) and Ampex Corp. 

Temes and the other 167 new fellows will be honored in April in Phoenix at the academy’s annual meeting.

Jennifer Parham-Mocello
Jennifer Parham-Mocello (left), assistant professor of computer science, works with a high school student.

Oregon does not have a policy to support computer science education, even though computing jobs are the No. 1 source of all new wages in the U.S. economy, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine, which tracks labor demand.

To face this challenge, Jennifer Parham-Mocello, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, has an idea to work computer science fundamentals into the existing K-12 mathematics curriculum.

Google is supporting her idea with funding for a project to teach computational thinking — the foundation of computer programming — to future secondary math teachers studying at Oregon State. The research project is a collaboration with Elise Lockwood, associate professor of mathematics in the College of Science, and Rebekah Elliott, associate professor of mathematics education in the College of Education.

“It’s great that this Google Education K-12 grant will support educating future teachers. It’s an area that’s been ignored,” Parham-Mocello said. “Everybody wants to start new computer science courses in K-12, and I just don’t think that’s realistic, especially when you’re talking about rural areas.”

The one-year award of $141,800 will support undergraduate and graduate students over the 2019-20 school year to develop new curriculum in pre-service secondary mathematics courses at Oregon State University, then test it in Corvallis middle and high schools.  In the process, the Oregon State students will learn the basics of computational thinking, which they can apply in their future positions as teachers.

“Computational thinking helps people better understand their field. But it also makes them literate in the world of computation,” Parham-Mocello said. “When you have to think in terms of the process — the algorithmic steps — you internalize it differently and gain a deeper understanding.”

The researchers will begin teaching the curriculum in fall term to the secondary mathematics pre-service teachers. During the winter term, the pre-service teachers will develop and deliver units on computational thinking to students in Corvallis schools. The one-year project will help to define and develop a multiple-year program with broader reach.

“My vision is that all of Oregon will benefit from this,” Parham-Mocello said. “Most of the education students at Oregon State will become teachers in Oregon schools of all types. So, the impact will be broadening participation in computing for schools of all sizes in both rural and urban communities.”

Yue CaoYue Cao, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering, is collaborating with Amazon Prime Air to make UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) delivery a reality. Prime Air promises to deliver a package to the customer within 30 minutes after receiving the order.  Cao will help develop an advanced propulsion system that is more reliable and efficient. This all-electric flying vehicle will have to address multi-disciplinary challenges in the areas of power electronics, motor drives, energy storage, and cooling.

The delivery  program was featured in the article,  “Amazon expects ‘Prime Air’ drone delivery ‘within months’” by ABC News.

Travis Whitehead

Guest post by Travis Whitehead

Working at the Open Source Lab has been the highlight of my computer science experience at Oregon State University. It was just by chance that I came across a job listing for the OSL. I had never heard of the organization, and it certainly was not a factor in my decision to pursue computer science at Oregon State University.

I’d been running Linux as my primary operating system since high school, and over time I found myself becoming more and more deeply invested in the ideological underpinnings of FOSS (Free Open-Source Software). I appreciated the transparency of FOSS, and the benefits available through free licenses that allow anyone to use the software, change how it works, repurpose it, and distribute it.

Despite my strong interest in free software, I never imagined myself in the position of getting paid to contribute to open source. At the OSL I learned valuable skills and gained work experience, but the biggest thing to me was that I was able to do work that was ethical and important.

In a world shaped by a for-profit economy, our interaction with software and intellectual property is exclusive. If users cannot afford to pay for software, they are excluded access to the software or must access it illegally. Or worse, we become the products ourselves, subjected to all kinds of data collection and surveillance in exchange for access to services. The Open Source Lab offered me the opportunity to support open-source software projects, ultimately allowing me to contribute to The Commons, and better the world that we live in. It’s been very fulfilling for me to know that our projects create solutions that anybody and everybody may use.

Ethics aside, the work itself has provided me many opportunities to learn things that I couldn’t in the classroom. Experience with configuration management and automation tooling reshaped how I manage my personal systems at home. And I worked in a real datacenter! Tinkering with powerful hardware in a real production environment is way cooler than any academic project.

Looking forward, I hope that the Open Source Lab continues to grow and expand so that more students may have these same opportunities. The OSL is truly one of a kind, and I feel really thankful to have been able to work with the lab for the past several years.

Excitingly, this is my last term at Oregon State. I’ll be going on to work with Tag1 Consulting, where I will continue to tackle exciting infrastructure challenges and contribute back to the open-source community whenever I can.

Sanjit Mitra

Sanjit K. Mitra, an expert in signal and image processing, will speak at Oregon State University on October 14 for the Michael and Judith Gaulke Distinguished Lecture Series. The lecture series brings internationally renowned scholars to Oregon State to ensure that our students and faculty have access to important technology breakthroughs, as well as the fundamental science and engineering that is the foundation for today’s high tech advances.

The title of his talk is “Structural Subband Decomposition: A New Concept in Digital Signal Processing.” The talk will be held in Learning Innovation Center (LINC), 200 at 4:00 p.m.

Mitra is a research professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara and Professor Emeritus, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Mitra is a Life Fellow of the IEEE, he has served IEEE in various capacities including service as the President of the IEEE Circuits & Systems Society in 1986. He is also a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, a member of the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences, an Academician of the Academy of Finland, a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Arts, a foreign member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Croatian Academy of Engineering, and the Academy of Engineering, Mexico, and a Foreign Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India and the Indian National Academy of Engineering.

Lawrence Roy

A graduate student at Oregon State University has won a fellowship from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Lawrence Roy is one of fewer than 6 percent of applicants to receive the DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. Roy is studying toward a doctoral degree in computer graphics.

The fellowship, administered by the Krell Institute of Ames, Iowa, is funded by the DOE’s Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration. Each year, the program grants fellowships to support doctoral students whose education and research focus on using high-performance computers to solve complex science and engineering problems of national importance. Since it was launched in 1991, the DOE fellowship has supported 456 students at more than 65 universities.

DOE fellowship students receive full tuition and fees plus an annual stipend and academic allowance, renewable for up to four years. In return, recipients must complete courses in a scientific or engineering discipline plus computer science and applied mathematics.

Stephen Ramsey
Stephen Ramsey

In August, Stephen Ramsey, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, along with his collaborators, received an additional $351,443 in funding to develop a biomedical data translator, bringing the total funds this year to $788,443.

The award is part of a program by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to  build a tool that brings together medical data from various sources to better understand health and disease and, ultimately, to diagnose and treat patients more quickly.

Ten teams across the country are working on the biomedical data translator, in what started out as a competition, but is now a collaborative effort.

The unusual program required the teams to first solve a series of puzzles before they could view the RFA (request for application). The funding is not a grant, but instead called an “other transaction” award. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), the branch of NIH that is running the program, continually assesses the progress of the teams and doles out funding for short periods of time based on the progress of the teams.

“It’s a very flexible model which enables us to be nimble,” Ramsey said. “They can make adjustments to the deliverables to focus resources on things that are working, and not dedicate resources to approaches that aren’t working.”

Read the full story.

Photo of Mark Clements
Mark Clements, senior development and QA manager for CASS, teaches during the workshop.

Employees in the Center for Applied Systems and Software (CASS) in the College of Engineering are teaching a workshop for high school teachers to learn how to create mobile apps for Apple devices. The three-day workshop is being held August 13 – 15, 2018 by Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) at Oregon State University.

The course is intended for any interested teacher, even if they have no programming experience. By the end of the workshop the participants will create their own app that can run on an Apple device using the programming language called Swift. They will also have the tools, including lesson plans, to teach programming in their class. Another benefit is that they will continue to have online support with CASS when they are implementing the program in their class.

“By teaching this workshop, we are enabling teachers to use this really awesome curriculum from Apple in their high schools. And then hopefully that will help interest more young people in computer science,” said Carrie Hertel, director of the Software Development Group for CASS.

Hertel is excited to expand CASS’s outreach to high school teachers and hopes to hold more workshops in the future, as well as provide a modified workshop for professionals.

Kenneth Squire did not know what to expect when attending his first academic conference — SPIE Photonics West 2018, a conference about light-based science and technology. So, he was pretty surprised to take home two awards.

“It’s really exciting to get that recognition and to know that I am capable of doing research and presenting my findings at that level,” said Squire, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University.

Squire’s research advances techniques to detect antigens such as biotoxins that can infect food or biomarkers for disease. His research is under the direction of Alan Wang, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering who heads the Engineering Photonics Research Laboratory in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The paper for which Squire received the Prizmatix Young Investigator Award was “Ultra-sensitive fluorescent imaging-biosensing using biological photonic crystals.”

In this research, Squire, along with Dr. Xianming Kong and other collaborators, were able to enhance the optical signals for florescence imaging using diatoms, which are single-celled algae.

“The hope is that this can be used for cellphone based biosensors,” Squire said. Sensitivity is the challenge for developing sensors that can be used outside of pristine laboratory conditions.

“Using these diatoms, we were able to enhance the sensitivity. So, even though your equipment isn’t quite as good, and even though you don’t have the perfect conditions, you can still get detection levels that are practical,” Squire said.

They have applied for a patent on the technology and are currently working on an application to detect a biomarker for cardiovascular disease.

Squire’s second award at the conference was runner up for Best Student Presentation for his paper entitled, “Facile detection of toxic ingredients in seafood using biologically enabled photonic crystal materials.“

This research utilized the fossilized remains of diatoms, called diatomaceous earth, which is sometimes used for filters. The device that Squire, Kong and collaborators developed was able to separate the target from other material in the sample, and enhance the optical signals for better detection of biotoxins that can infect food.

The study demonstrated successful detection of Sudan I, an illegal carcinogenic dye, in various chili products, and histamine, a naturally occurring toxin, in seafood that was intentionally contaminated and in decomposing tuna.

The device, called a thin layer chromatography plate, separates the target molecule from the rest of the sample matrix and enhances the performance of the detection.  The detection method that was employed uses scattered light from a laser which creates a unique fingerprint for different molecules (surface-enhanced Raman scattering).

“The Photonics West conference was a great opportunity to present our work.  Leading up to the conference, many of our group members were instrumental in the preparation and polishing of the presentations that led to these awards and I am very grateful to them for their help and support,” Squire said.


Ultra-sensitive fluorescent imaging-biosensing using biological photonic crystals

Kenneth Squire, Xianming Kong, Paul LeDuff, Gregory Rorrer, Alan X. Wang

Optical biosensing is a growing area of research known for its low limits of detection.  Among optical sensing techniques, fluorescence detection is among the most established and prevalent.  Fluorescence imaging is an optical biosensing modality that exploits the sensitivity of fluorescence in an easy-to-use process. Fluorescence imaging allows a user to place a sample on a sensor and use an imager, such as a camera, to collect the results.  The image can then be processed to determine the presence of the analyte.  Fluorescence imaging is appealing because it can be performed with as little as a light source, a camera and a data processor thus being ideal for nontrained personnel without any expensive equipment.  Fluorescence imaging sensors generally employ an immunoassay procedure to selectively trap analytes such as antigens or antibodies.  When the analyte is present, the sensor fluoresces thus transducing the chemical reaction into an optical signal capable of imaging.  Enhancement of this fluorescence leads to an enhancement in the detection capabilities of the sensor.  Diatoms are unicellular algae with a biosilica shell called a frustule.  The frustule is porous with periodic nanopores making them biological photonic crystals.  Additionally, the porous nature of the frustule allows for large surface area capable of multiple analyte binding sites.  In this paper, we fabricate a diatom based ultra-sensitive fluorescence imaging biosensor capable of detecting the antibody mouse immunoglobulin down to a concentration of 1 nM.  The measured signal has an enhancement of 6× when compared to sensors fabricated without diatoms.


Facile detection of toxic ingredients in seafood using biologically enabled photonic crystal materials

Xianming Kong, Kenneth Squire, and Alan X. Wang

Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectroscopy has attracted considerable attention recently as a powerful detection platform in biosensing because of the wealth of inherent information ascertained about the chemical and molecular composition of a sample. However, real-world samples are often composed of many components, which renders the detection of constitutes of mixed samples very challenging for SERS sensing. Accordingly, separation techniques are needed before SERS measurements. Thin layer chromatography (TLC) is a simple, fast and cost-effective technique for analyte separation and can a play pivotal role for on-site sensing. However, combining TLC with SERS is only successful to detect a limited number of analytes that have large Raman scattering cross sections. As a kind of biogenic amine, histamine (2-(4-imidazolyl)-ethylamine) has a relationship with many health problems resulting from seafood consumption occurring worldwide. Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. As a kind of natural photonic biosilica from geological deposits, it has a variety of unique properties including highly porous structure, excellent adsorption capacity, and low cost. In addition, the two dimensional periodic pores on diatomite earth with hierarchical nanoscale photonic crystal features can enhance the localized optical field. Herein, we fabricate TLC plates from diatomite as the stationary phase combining with SERS to separate and detect histamine from seafood samples. We have proved that the diatomite on the TLC plate not only functions as stationary phase, but also provides additional Raman enhancement, in which the detection limit of 2 ppm was achieved for pyrene in mixture.