Research Horizons showcases SoIC work

Raj at Research Horizons

The spread of misinformation in social media. Using Twitter to find correlations with healthcare. Leveling the playing field for job seekers by providing online privacy. Teaching computers to learn case-based reasoning.

These topics and dozens more were touched on as the School of Informatics and Computing showcased its breadth of work in the inaugural Research Horizons. The event was designed to be an opportunity to learn about, engage, and influence research that is driving innovation across sectors while also giving SoIC faculty the chance to mingle with industry leaders.

“We are showcasing our own research to the university, our excellent sponsors, and the research community at large,” said Raj Acharya, the dean of SoIC. “We’re looking forward to integrating the varied individual research into focused projects.”

Research Horizons featured five-minute lightning talks about a variety of subjects exploring the broad range of work being done at SoIC. The event also included a trio of keynote speeches from Professor of Intelligent Systems Engineering and Director of the Center for Research in Extreme Scale Technologies Thomas Sterling, Assistant Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering for the National Science Foundation Jim Kurose, and Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann.

Sterling’s keynote highlighted IU’s history as a leader in high-performance computing and laid out a path for the continued leadership of SoIC in the field going forward. Kurose stressed the importance of NSF investments in computer science and presented a vision for the future as STEM education in the K-12 school range steps to the forefront. Silbermann provided a history of Pinterest and said the purpose of his popular site is to feed discovery by giving users a window into possibilities for everyday living.

In other words, Pinterest provides an opportunity for a collaboration of ideas, even if anonymous, which was a theme of Research Horizons.

“This has gone beyond expectations,” said Martina Barnas, SoIC’s assistant dean for research and the key organizer of the event. “We came together as a School, and everybody pitched in. (Associate Professor of Informatics and Computing) David Crandall was instrumental in working with me on the technical part and interfacing with faculty, and he has done a tremendous job. Everybody has been very excited.”

Besides showcasing the work being done at SoIC to leaders outside the School, Research Horizons also gave faculty the chance to learn about colleagues’ research, opening the door to possible collaboration in the future.

“One of the advantages of this is that, socially, faculty from all of these disparate areas are coming together and seeing each other’s research,” Acharya said. “That will help create even more partnerships in the future.”

Although the research being conducted is serious in nature and will help push technology ever forward, the lightning talks tended to have a light, interesting tone.

“We wanted this to be informative and fun at the same time,” Barnas said. “It’s a celebration of who we are as a School. One of our guests from the government said this is one of the best events he has been to, and that was pretty great.”

Thanks to the success of the event, Barnas is already looking forward to more Research Horizon showcases in the future.

“We have such amazing people,” Barnas said. “Everybody has been working very hard and with enthusiasm for this, and the event was a success because of it. We’ll do it again, and we’ll do it even better. It was fantastic.”

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