DAC Student Spotlight: Shuangfei Fan

Shuangfei Fan, DAC Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science

Graphic is from Fan’s research on “Deep Generative Models for Generating Labeled Graphs”

In disease control and prevention, understanding how an emerging infectious disease can spread beyond the visible network is important.

Marketers posting ads on an online social network can benefit from knowing how their information will spread beyond ego networks.

These two scenarios provide good examples for practical application of Shuangfei Fan’s research using deep representation learning algorithms on labeled graphs to model graph generation and graph evolution.

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DAC Student Spotlight: Fanglan Chen

Fanglan Chen, UrbComp and DAC Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science

Graphic is from Chen’s research on “Mitigating Uncertainty in Document Classification”

Motivated to improve the health and quality of urban environments through new data sources and methods, Fanglan Chen is simultaneously pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science and a master’s degree in urban planning.

Additionally, she plans to earn a graduate certificate in Data Analytics, offered through the Discovery Analytics Center. She already holds a graduate certificate from the multidisciplinary National Science Foundation-funded UrbComp program, which is also administered through DAC.

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DAC Student Spotlight: Alexander Rodriguez

Alexander Rodriguez, DAC Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science

Alexander Rodriguez was a master’s degree student in data science at the University of Oklahoma when he met B. Aditya Prakash at the 2017 ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining. That meeting sealed his decision to apply to the Ph.D. computer science program at Virginia Tech.

“I was excited about the problems he was working on and I felt he was a knowledgeable person from whom I could learn how to become a researcher,” said Rodriguez of his current advisor.

The opportunity to be part of the Discovery Analytics Center also played a part in his decision to come to Virginia Tech.

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DAC Student Spotlight: Alyssa Herbst

Alyssa Herbst, DAC M.S. student in the Department of Computer Science

Graphic is from Herbst’s research on “Active Learning by Greedy Split and Label Exploration”

After receiving a master’s degree in computer science at Fall Commencement, Alyssa Herbst will head to New York City. She has already accepted a position as software engineer at Instagram, where she interned on the Shopping Machine Learning team this past summer.

Herbst’s interest in machine learning sparked when, as an undergrad in the Department of Computer Science, she took a class taught by Bert Huang. She wound up working in Huang’s Machine Learning Laboratory on a twitter scraping project to assist with cyberbullying research.

“As part of this research, we had a corpus of tweets that we wanted to label as either ‘bullying’ or ‘not bullying,’ but a limited crowdsourcing budget. So we started to think about what it would look like to ‘guess’ the labels of tweets with some degree of certainty if crowdsource workers labeled some of the tweets,” said Herbst.

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Focus on Mahmud Shahriar Hossain…..a DAC alumnus interview

Mahmud Shahriar Hossain, DAC Alumnus

Mahmud Shahriar Hossain was recently promoted to associate professor of computer science, with tenure, at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). He leads the university’s Discovery Analytics Lab. Hossain earned his Ph.D. in computer science from Virginia Tech in 2012 and joined UTEP as an assistant professor in 2013.

While at the Discovery Analytics Center at Virginia Tech, his work with advisor, Naren  Ramakrishnan focused on event analysis, “storytelling,” and data abstraction techniques like alternative clustering and scatter/gather clustering. He applied his methods to solve a broad spectrum of problems in multiple disciplines, including national security, biomedical science, and mechanical engineering.

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DAC Student Spotlight: Shane Bookhultz

Shane Bookhultz, DAC and UrbComp Ph.D. student in the Department of Statistics

Graphic is from Bookhultz’s poster presentation “Measuring Polarity from News Sources: a Topic Modeling Approach”

“Working with text data is challenging but that is what I like about it,” said Shane Bookhultz, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Statistics. “It is inherently noisy because of different mannerisms, choices of words, and tones. Unlike numerical data, which is pretty concrete, text data can have various interpretations.”

Bookhultz — who is also a research trainee in the National Science Foundation-sponsored Urban Computing graduate certificate program — was introduced to this research area by his advisor, Scotland Leman. Then he started exploring more text issues with different media.

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DAC Student Spotlight: Jianfeng He

Jianfeng He, DAC Ph.D. student in computer science

Along his educational path, Jianfeng He learned an important lesson: Having a good advisor should be the number one priority in choosing a Ph.D. program. The opportunity to work with Chang-Tien Lu drew him to Virginia Tech and the Discovery Analytics Center after spending a short period of time at another university.

He’s focus is on data analysis of social media and he is currently working on image editing based on user requests and text classification based on machine learning.

This research builds upon an interest that began while He was an undergraduate majoring in digital media technology at the Central China Normal University and required to learn media design software, including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, and MAYA.

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B. Aditya Prakash moves to DAC’s Arlington location

Aditya Prakash (left) and his Ph.D. student Anika Tabassum (right) at DAC in Arlington.

Aditya Prakash, associate professor of computer science and faculty at the Discovery Analytics Center has moved from Blacksburg to DAC’s location at the Virginia Tech Research Center – Arlington.

“My work is frequently motivated by public health, urban computing, and web-related problems and this location is fertile ground for collaborations in these domains,” Prakash said. “Moving to the greater Washington D.C. metro area will help me further expand my research activities, due to its ‘one of its kind’ proximity to government agencies, companies, and hospitals/medical centers.”

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DAC Student Spotlight: Badour AlBahar

Badour AlBahar, DAC Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Image is part of AlBahar’s research paper on “Guided Image-to-Image Translation with Bi-Directional Feature Transformation”









Next month Badour AlBahar will travel to Seoul, Korea, to present a paper, “Guided Image-to-Image Translation with Bi-Directional Feature Transformation” at the premier International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV).

A second year Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, AlBahar said she is “extremely fortunate to be able to explore and broaden my knowledge in computer vision and machine learning with Professor Jia-Bin Huang and my fellow colleagues at the Discovery Analytics Center. Working with people from different backgrounds and experiences has enabled me to grow and learn in ways I never knew possible.”

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DAC Student Spotlight: You Lu

You Lu, DAC Ph.D. student in computer science

You Lu knew that the Discovery Analytics Center would be a great fit for his research when he applied to the Virginia Tech Ph.D. program in computer science. “I had heard about Professor Bert Huang and knew that he and I were working in a similar research area — graphical models,” said Lu. “I felt I could learn a lot from him and I am so glad he agreed to be my advisor.”

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