SURF-IT Research Projects


Participants | Research Projects

The SURF-IT program is committed to offering students challenging and unique research opportunities that explore the diverse, multidisciplinary nature of telecommunications and information technology, and ultimately focus on furthering the development of the Internet. Students will be fully immersed in the research laboratory, collaborating with their faculty mentors and teams, and using state-of-the-art equipment. These projects will fully engage the student and provide the opportunity to see how telecommunication and information technology developments are applied in real life to produce significant and tangible final results.

Calit2 faculty, students and research professionals with leading California technology companies conduct research in “living laboratories” focused on the scientific, technological, and social components related to information technologies.

2011 SURF-IT Research Projects

The following faculty-mentored research projects are available during the 2011 SURF-IT Program. They are divided into their own unique areas of research. Select a link for an overview of the project, associated faculty mentors, project prerequisites, and related publications.

Undergraduate Research Projects Mentored by Calit2 Faculty

    1) Experiments in Social Gaming  

    2) A Web Application for Science: An NMR Pulse Sequence Database 

    3) Android-Based System for At-Home Health Monitoring 

    4) Cluster Computing for Media Production and Web Delivery Researchers 

    5) Design of Learning Environments 

    6) Droplet Formation and Manipulation on a Centrifugal Microfluidic Disc 

    7) Educational Interactive Media Development in Science 

    8) Integration of Medical Sensors with Smart Phones for Telemedicine Applications in Developing Regions 

    9) Multimedia Production Research 

    10) Simulations of an Extrinsic Stochastic Model of the Development of the Neuron/Synapse Structure in the Human Cerebral Cortex 

    11) Social Media and Innovation 

    12) Study and Implementation of Flexible Physical Layer Algorithms for a Software-Defined Radio Platform 

    13) Sugar-Powered Fuel Cells 

    14) Thermal Shock Behavior of Zirconia-Based Oxygen Sensors 

    15) Understanding Player Dynamics in Avoidance and Thwarting Games for Use in Promoting Behavior Reduction 

  Project #1:   Experiments in Social Gaming
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Shivendu ShivenduPaul Merage School of Business

Description:  The project is aimed at providing a social gaming platform that allows users to play social games online. With the advent of Web 2.0, online social networks have helped satisfy human need for having friends and affiliations without spending too much time and resources. Websites like Facebook, Orkut etc. have provided a platform for social interaction and have become extremely popular. Companies like Zynga have taken advantage of these platforms and created online social games. However, these games are still, to a large extent, individual based. This project explores the opportunities of having a social gaming platform that people can play together at the same time. The web site focuses on bringing together the aspects of gaming and Web 2.0. The experiments will provide insights into how to take advantage of this growing and upcoming area.
The solution would be a social gaming platform that allows users a single location for social networking and gaming. We are also considering how other areas such as social shopping, etc. can be clubbed together to maximize user value and interaction.

Student's Involvement and Expected Outcomes
The project will offer an opportunity to not only understand the technical architecture of social gaming websites, but also learn about their impact of gaming on society. While working on this project, the student will design and develop several modules and gain hands-on experience of implementing a social gaming solution. The student will also get an opportunity to contribute with his/her creativity and innovation to achieve the goals of the project.

Prerequisites: The student should have the basic understanding of website development and familiarity with technologies like HTML, XML, PHP, CSS Drupal, CS, and MySQL/SQL Server. Experience with social media websites will be preferred.

  Project #2:  A Web Application for Science: An NMR Pulse Sequence Database
Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Evgeny FadeevChemistry

Description:  Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is a principal physical method for the characterization of chemical samples. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a related method widely applied in the medicine and materials sciences. All NMR and MRI experiments rely on software programs, called pulse sequences, which are the recipes for applying a sequence of radio-frequency and magnetic field gradient pulses to the sample and recording the radio-frequency response from the sample. There are thousands of NMR and MRI pulse sequences in the literature, with most of them never published in electronic form.

We are building a "Web 2.0" application that will allow scientists to store, identify, document, configure, retrieve and configure the NMR pulse sequences, as well as provide tools for the curation of entries, user rating and communication between the authors and the users.

A pivotal part of the pulse sequence database will be an industry-standard revision control system - git - with a custom-built user interface that will allow scientists to easily deposit files into the system, without being exposed to the complexities of the underlying revision control system.

This project is part of the long term research efforts of Prof. Shaka and Dr. Fadeev, Director of the Biomolecular NMR Lab at UCI.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes
The student involved in the project will investigate how to create a simple user interface for the customized (with limited functionality) git revision control system, easily accessible to users who are not experts in such systems. The user interface will be specifically tailored to the domain of NMR spectroscopy. The student will be responsible for the implementation of the software system, writing test code, actively collaborating with Prof. Shaka (the faculty mentor) and Dr. Fadeev (the technical lead).

The expected outcome is a working prototype that will be deployed as the pilot project at the active website dedicated to NMR spectroscopy - The results of the project will significantly impact the field of NMR spectroscopy and the larger community of academic and industrial chemists and biologists that make use of NMR on the daily basis.

Recommended Reading
1) Timothy D. W. Claridge, "High Resolution NMR Techniques in Organic Chemistry", Tetrahedron Organic Chemistry Series, Vol. 19. Elsevier.

Prerequisites: Strong interest in software development is required. Familiarity with Python programming language is a plus.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Information about git:
   Overview of the NMR Wiki Pulse Sequence Database:
   Web site for the biomolecular spectroscopy facility:

  Project #3:  Android-Based System for At-Home Health Monitoring
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Mark BachmanElectrical Engineering & Computer Science

Description:  This project will develop a sensor and control system than makes it easy to connect a wide variety of sensors and controllers to an Android-based user interface. The target application for this is at-home devices that unobtrusively monitor health-related activities or collect health data from people at home. The project will develop the hardware and software needed to quickly connect external units to a pad or mobile phone device via USB or Bluetooth. As part of this project, we will demonstrate the use of an Android pad to monitor a person's hand or foot movement during exercise or physical therapy.

Prerequisites: The student should have programming experience for sensor systems and mobile phone systems. Experience with health-related projects would be a plus.

  Project #4:  Cluster Computing for Media Production and Web Delivery Researchers
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Brad HughesEcology & Evolutionary Biology

Description:  The student researcher will investigate the question of how to most effectively cluster an array of computers for supercomputer workflow across intensive media production tasks alternating with deployment to web server role at different times. The research will involve aspects of server configurations, backup, web development, and cluster computer application to processing-heavy media production. Configuration of a small Apple Macintosh lab (funding for 18 systems has already been secured) to serve dual roles of multiple networked media productivity workstations and as a clustered server, and research will help determine optimized allocations and effective networking technologies. The student will also investigate the question of how to best support online learning communities of teachers.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes
Student researchers will determine best approaches for server and production needs, and pilot test the media lab for optimization in collaboration with the faculty researcher. Server Based Interactions i.e. Xgrid distributed computing, distributed video encoding using Apple Qmaster, Final Cut Pro Server, Apache, PHP, and MySQL Server. Outcomes will include an optimized plan for Server and clustered media workstation management, as well as an experimental technological system to support online learning communities.

Recommended Web Sites and Publications (Configuring Xgrid for Podcast Producer) (Xgrid) (Final Cut Pro Server) (Compressor 3/Distributed Computing/Qmaster) (OS X Server 10.6) (LAMP server installation) (networking)

Prerequisites: Requisite skills include familiarity with computers and media development applications, combined with basic research and analysis skills. The program targets students who have junior or senior standing, but that is not a strict requirement. Students expecting to graduate in June 2011 will receive low priority. There is no minimum GPA standard, although GPA will be a factor in the selection process.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Distributed Computing:

  Project #5:  Design of Learning Environments
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Gillian R. HayesInformatics

Description:  This project is an ongoing study of the socio-technical design of learning environments. This summer we will be focusing on the question: How do teachers influence the design of classrooms and manage new(er) technologies as a part of a larger set of tools and materials? During the summer we will be facilitating group design sessions and design workshops for elementary school classroom teachers. Currently we are gathering observational and interview data in these classrooms to inform the structure and content of the design sessions. During the summer, we will be analyzing this exploratory data for patterns of use and design opportunities. Then, we will be engaging with teachers as design partners in brainstorming workshops and lightweight prototyping.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes
Students will be expected to work as a proactive member of the research team, participating in all scheduled meetings and work sessions. Students will participate in data collection including: conducting interviews; taking field notes; assisting with focus groups; and transcribing data. Analysis of data will include reading field notes, coding, and discussing findings as a group. The student will develop qualitative research skills while working closely with graduate students in Informatics and Sociology. Students will also be expected to work from LUCI and participate in the STAR lab group. The student will gain exposure to research and resources in Ubicomp.

Recommended Readings
1) How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (1999). Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (Eds). National Research Council, Washington DC. Chapter 6, The Design of Learning Environments (pp. 131-154).
2) Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.
3) Edelson, D. C. (2002). Design research: What we learn when we engage in design. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 11(1), 105-121.

Prerequisites: Students with interdisciplinary interests in education, sociology, or anthropology are encouraged to apply to this project. Students should be able to work well in a group, but also be individually directed. Students will need to be comfortable working with professionals from outside the university. Programming or graphic design experience is helpful but not required.

  Project #6:  Droplet Formation and Manipulation on a Centrifugal Microfluidic Disc
Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Lawrence KulinskyMechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Description:  Lab-on-a-chip platforms (also known as microfluidic devices) are currently an exciting research field geared to miniaturize the diagnostic power of a complete laboratory onto a disposable device for point-of-care medical applications. Droplets (nano- to pico- liter volumes of fluids) are an exciting sub-field of “lab-on-a-chip” platforms because droplets serve as miniaturized environments for performing experiments which would traditionally be performed on a macro scale. Benefits of performing experiments in droplets include a reduction in reaction time and the ability to multiplex experiments. However, droplet formation on lab-on-a-chip platforms can be challenging as large, bulky, and costly syringe pumps are required to manipulate fluids. Researchers at Dr. Madou’s BioMEMS laboratory manipulate fluids in microfluidic discs devices by centrifugal forces by spinning the whole microfluidic platform, eliminating the need for syringe pumps. Advantages of centrifugal pumping include the ability to easily multiplex experiments and to pump a wide range of fluids regardless of their viscosities. Droplet formation and manipulation on centrifugal microfluidic platform is an exciting and important topic that will make for more advanced microfluidic discs. With an undergraduate student researcher we propose to explore novel ways to form and manipulate droplets in the centrifugal microfluidic disc platform. Important aspects of droplet formation on microfluidic discs that we want to study with an undergraduate student include: sorting of droplets by size and density, droplet splitting and merging, biochemical reactions in droplets, and multiplexed droplet formation.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes
Students will be involved in microfluidic disc design, fabrication, and testing. In performing these tasks the student will gain experience in the design of microfluidic platforms as well as rapid prototyping skills. The design portion of the research will involve the use of CAD-based software. Critical thinking will be integral to the research as the student will not only take part in the design and fabrication of a microfluidic device, but they must also be able to design experiments that validate their devices.

Recommended Web Sites and Publications:
1) Madou, Marc, Jim Zoval, Guangyao Jia, Horacio Kido, Jitae Kim, and Nahui Kim. “Lab on a CD.” Annu Rev Biomed Eng 8 (January 2006): 601-628.
2) Haeberle, Stefan, Roland Zengerle, and Jens Ducrée. “Centrifugal generation and manipulation of droplet emulsions.” Microfluidics and Nanofluidics 3, no. 1 (July 2006): 65-75.
3) Chakraborty, Debapriya, and Suman Chakraborty. “Controlled microbubble generation on a compact disk.” Applied Physics Letters 97, no. 23 (2010): 234103.
4) Gorkin, Robert, Jiwoon Park, Jonathan Siegrist, Mary Amasia, Beom Seok Lee, Jong-Myeon Park, Jintae Kim, Hanshin Kim, Marc Madou, and Yoon-Kyoung Cho. “Centrifugal microfluidics for biomedical applications.” Lab Chip (May 2010).
5) Ducrée, Jens, Stefan Haeberle, Sascha Lutz, Sarah Pausch, Felix Von Stetten, and Roland Zengerle. “The centrifugal microfluidic Bio-Disk platform.” J Micromech Microeng 17, no. 7 (July 2007): S103-S115.

Prerequisites: We are seeking independent and motivated researchers. It is preferred, but not necessary, to have a student with CAD experience. Coursework in fluid mechanics is a plus.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Madou Bio MEMS lab:

  Project #7:  Educational Interactive Media Development in Science
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Liane BrouilletteEducation

Description:  Student researcher(s) in this project will design interactive learning games that make use of multimedia to increase students’ scientific literacy. These activities will lay the foundation for testing the hypothesis that embedding the academic language of science within art lessons and interactive learning games will boost students’ understanding of grade 3-5 Science concepts (as assessed by the San Diego science benchmark tests at those grade levels). The focus will be on designing interactive learning games that support English language learners in the acquisition of science terminology.

This project will build on our MDP project under UROP and Calit2 (, in which a team of students will carry out research to identify existing multimedia learning aids to help English learners and other students better understand environmental systems science. The target population is English language learners (ELLs) in grades 3 to 5. While the MDP student team will carry out a Web search for instructional tools that already exist and that have promise of helping ELLs to better understand concepts covered in the California Life Science Content Standards at these grade levels, the researcher in this project will help to create appropriate multimedia content and visual aids where needed multimedia content has been determined to not yet exist.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes
The student researcher along with the faculty mentor and the student MDP team will apply various technologies of multimedia, web programming, and game design--such as Adobe Flash, HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, Apache, PHP, MySQL, Apple iOS, Android OS, Windows Phone 7, Nintendo Wii, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Google SketchUp, and Cycling ’74 Max--to create their interactive learning games. Products will be tested in the San Diego School District as a part of a larger effort supported by an Improving Teacher Quality grant. The student will work with the faculty mentor and with web site personnel in the School of Biological Sciences.

Recommended Web Sites and Publications (Max programming) (Flash CS5 - creating simple game for android devices) (Flash CS5 - creating simple game for iOS devices) (Flash CS5 - ActionScript 3.0) (Web Design Fundamentals) (Creating Games for the Wii) (iOS 4 Web Applications with HTML5 & CSS3) (Windows Phone 7 Development - Sample App) (Developing Games for the Web)

Prerequisites: Requisite skills include familiarity with computers and some of the media development applications listed above, combined with basic research and analysis skills. The program targets students who have junior or senior standing, but that is not a strict requirement. Students expecting to graduate in June 2011 will receive low priority. There is no minimum GPA standard, although GPA will be a factor in the selection process.

  Project #8:  Integration of Medical Sensors with Smart Phones for Telemedicine Applications in Developing Regions
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Gloria MarkInformatics

Description:  The continuous increase of mobile phone coverage, the capabilities of cellular networks and smart phones, the higher expressivity of 2D and 3D graphics, and the continuously cheaper and smaller sensors [1] provide an unprecedented technological opportunity to shorten the current geographical, cultural, and socio¬economic distances that prevent medical care in poor communities. Mobile networks now cover over 80% of people in developing countries [2]. Network operators are rapidly moving their networks from 2G to 3G and 4G platforms [3], [5]. Smartphones already provide the networking, processing, and graphic capabilities of small computers [4], a fact that is catalyzing a transition of the mobile interface and communication paradigm from low-bandwidth language-and literacy-dependent text (e.g. SMS) to 2D/3D interfaces. Last, continuously cheaper and smaller environmental and body sensors enable observing the state of a patient and his environment remotely. This opportunity, however, comes with a series of challenges including how to properly integrate sensors and smartphones. Different sensors produce different types of data, use different application transmission protocols, and utilize different communication interfaces. Moreover, for the project to succeed, the result of such integration will have to be easy to use by users who might have different levels of literacy and e-literacy, who might not speak any of the major world languages like English or Spanish, and who might not trust technology. This SURF-IT project focuses on creating a methodology as well as software and hardware tools to successfully integrate iPhones with medical sensors.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes
The student/s will join the VirTelMed project ( and will (i) design a methodology to integrate heterogeneous sensors with an iPhone, and (ii) using such methodology, the student/s will be expected to integrate a small number of sensors with the iPhone and produce a prototype. To achieve these objectives, the student/s will work with an interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners. The student/s will be mentored by Informatics Professor Gloria Mark and work closely with ISR postdoc Daniel Massaguer, who have both previously worked with SURF-IT students. The student/s will also get feedback from an advisory board that is currently comprised of telemedicine researchers and practitioners as well as experts in western medicine, integrative medicine, and medicine for low-income patients.

Recommended Readings
1) Culler, D; Estrin, D; Srivastava, M Guest editors' introduction: overview of sensor networks, IEEE Computer, vol. 37, num. 8, pp 41-49, 2004 .
2) ITU, “The World in 2010 -ICT Facts and Figures”. 2010.
3) Coberura de Red. Yota Nicaragua -4G Internet de Nueva Generacion.

Prerequisites: Students who can think out of the box, enjoy multi-disciplinary work, are quick learners, and find the project exciting are especially encouraged to apply. Students should preferably be engineering (biomedical, computer, etc), informatics, or computer science majors with an interest for engineering medical systems for underprivileged citizens. Knowledge of human physiology and biology, medical signals, and/or programming experience are preferred but not required. Familiarity with smartphones and medical devices is also preferred but not required.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   iPhone 4 entry on Wikipedia. :
   Article on world mobile device markets:

  Project #9:  Multimedia Production Research
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Brad HughesEcology & Evolutionary Biology

Description:  The Multimedia Production Project involves exploratory research to investigate an array of cutting edge multimedia production tools currently available, such as Adobe Flash, HTML5, Adobe ColdFusion, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Cinema 4D, 3ds Max, Google Sketch Up, AutoCAD 2011, Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Apple Color, Apple SoundTrack Pro, Apple Logic Pro, Pro Tools, UCI Replay, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premier, Apple Garage Band, Cycling ‘74 MAX, and Apple Shake, to determine the most effective suite of tools. Additionally, the student researcher will develop skills with video editing effects, as well as Multi-Camera and Audio Synchronization Technologies for the purpose of optimizing interdisciplinary scientific video-based multimedia production workflows, which will be used to generate experimental integrative Art/Science curricular media, providing media-technology-based learning aids to help English learners and other students better understand science concepts, for a San Diego Unified School District Test Site and eventual national dissemination.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes
The student researcher(s) will conduct a broad web review of multimedia production applications and perform comparative reviews of these products, with some demo and purchasing of software as determined with supervisor. The student will develop a broad knowledge of over a dozen media technology production tools, in addition to gaining a functional working knowledge of video editing effects, as well as Multi-Camera and Audio Synchronization Technologies. Outcomes of the experience and project include an evolving analytical database of current media technologies, a brief user guide for multi-camera synchronization shooting, and an edited video prototype of an interdisciplinary Arts and Science lesson, co-developed by the faculty researcher along with the Center for Learning in the Arts, Science and Sustainability and the San Diego Unified School District.

Recommended Readings
1) Introduction to Media Production, Fourth Edition: The Path to Digital Media Production. Gorham Kindem, Robert B. Musburger. Focal Press Elsevier Publication, Paperback, 509 pages, 2009, ISBN: 9780240810829
2) Apple Pro Training Series: Final Cut Pro 7, Diana Weynand, PeachpitPress, Paperback, 576 Pages, 2010, ISBN 0321635272

Recommended Web Sites

Educational Resources:

Software Manufacturers:

Web: (HTML5) (Adobe Flash CS5) (XHTML, CSS, JavaScript) (Adobe ColdFusion 9) (HTML, XHTML) (JavaScript)

Animation & 3D: (Cinema 4D) (3ds Max 2011) (AutoCAD 2011) (Google SketchUp)

Prerequisites: Requisite skills include familiarity with computers and media development applications, combined with basic research and analysis skills. The program targets students who have junior or senior standing, but that is not a strict requirement. Students expecting to graduate in June 2011 will receive low priority. There is no minimum GPA standard, although GPA will be a factor in the selection process.

  Project #10:  Simulations of an Extrinsic Stochastic Model of the Development of the Neuron/Synapse Structure in the Human Cerebral Cortex
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Rui J. de FigueiredoElectrical Engineering & Computer Science

Description:  This student will develop a Computer Simulation Test-bed to test a model for a bio-system developed by the faculty mentor. This is an extrinsic stochastic model for the development of the neuron/synapse structure in the human cerebral cortex. Specifically, the model describes the stochastic behavior of neurons and synapses during the processes of neuron‐genesis (NG) and neuron–necrosis (NN) and, similarly, with the synapse‐genesis (SG) and synapse‐necrosis (SN). According to the model, glial cells play a major role as exogenous inputs to the system. They account for the extrinsic stochasticity of the system. De Figueiredo is applying such models to the analysis of the functional changes arising from the structural changes occurring in the underlying processes. In particular, he is paying attention to the incorporation of microglia, astrocytes, and oligo-dendrocytes [1-9] in the modeling of NG and NN as well as SG and SN during the processes of brain development and aging. The results that de Figueiredo has obtained are based on: (a) his previous work in computational neurosciences (see, e.g., [10]) and (b) the use of his mathematical model [11] in the studies he performed earlier [12] in collaboration with William R. Shankle on the Connel histological data.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes
The student will be utilizing several aspects of programming in C++ and Matlab in order to understand the development of the neuron/synapse structure in the human brain. Furthermore, using graphic design (Photoshop, Premiere, etc.) he/she will create models for visualization of the gathered data. The student should have taken courses in cell biology and have skills in computer visualization. The results of the project could readily lead to a co-authored paper.

Recommended Readings:
1) Shahrezaei, V., Swain, P.S., The stochastic nature of biochemical networks. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol.19, 369‐374 (2008).
2) Swain PS: Efficient attenuation of stochasticity in gene expression through post‐transcriptional control. J Mol Biol 2004, 344:965‐976.
3) Thattai M, van Oudenaarden A: Stochastic gene expression in fluctuating environments. Genetics 2004, 167:523‐530.
4) Acar M, Mettetal JT, van Oudenaarden A: Stochastic switching as a survival strategy in fluctuating environments. Nat Genet 2008, 40:471‐475.
5) Ansel J, Bottin H, Rodriguez‐Beltran C, Damon C, Nagarajan M, Fehrmann S, Franois J, Yvert G: Cell-to‐cell stochastic variation in gene expression is a complex genetic trait. PLoS Genet 2008, 4:e1000049.
6) J. Schummers, H. Yu, M. Sur, Tuned responses of astrocytes and their influence on hemodynamic signals in the visual cortex, Science 320, 1638‐1643 (2008).
7) Nimmerjahn A, Kirchhoff F, Helmchen F (2005) Resting microglial cells are highly dynamic surveillants of brain parenchyma in vivo. Science 308:1314‐8.
8) Hirrlinger PG, Scheller A, Braun C, Quintela‐Schneider M, Fuss B, Hirrlinger J, Kirchhoff F (2005) Expression of reef coral fluorescent proteins in the central nervous system of transgenic mice. Mol. Cell. Neurosci. 30:291‐303.
9) Hirrlinger PG, Scheller A, Braun C, Hirrlinger J, Kirchhoff F (2006) Temporal control of gene Re-combination in astrocytes by transgenic expression of the tamoxifen‐inducible DNA recombinase variant CreERT2. Glia 54:11‐20.
10) de Figueiredo, R. J. P., “Beyond Volterra and Wiener: Optimal Modeling of Nonlinear Dynamical systems in a Neural Space for Applications in Computational Intelligence”, in the book “Computational Intelligence: The Experts Speak”, edited by Charles Robinson and David Fogel, volume commemorative of the 2002 World Congress on Computational Intelligence, IEEE and John Wiley & Sons, 2003.
11) de Figueiredo, R. J. P., to be published.
12) de Figueiredo, R. J. P., and W. R. Shankle, to be published.

Prerequisites: Prerequisites: Junior or senior preferred; good GPA; biomedical engineering courses or experience; programming experience with C++ and MatLab.

  Project #11:  Social Media and Innovation
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Vijay GurbaxaniPaul Merage School of Business

Description:  This SURF-IT project is a component of my overall research project on Information Technology (IT) and Innovation. From the advent of computing in the early 1950s through the present day, academics have noted the co-evolution of business models and IT. That is, successful companies have adapted to the new IT-intensive environment. In many sectors, such as the IT industry, successful companies are no longer vertically integrated producing multiple hardware and software components, but rather, are horizontal specialists focusing on a specific technology or device. The converse is also true - companies that have not adapted to the new environment frequently fail. The overall research project is aimed at understanding the coevolution of IT and business models, focusing on why some companies are better able to accomplish business model innovation.

The SURF-IT project will explore the impact of a specific set of technologies (social media) on business model innovation. As we have seen from recent events in the Middle East, social media are fundamentally democratizing. I expect that social media use in companies will also result in democratization. This creates challenges and opportunities for companies whose decision making structures and management practices are inconsistent with a set of democratizing technologies.
The overarching research question of this component of the research project is “how do social media create value for companies?” Specifically, can we use these technologies to democratize innovation? An important component of the study is to highlight differences between companies that utilize social media well and those that do not. By focusing on a specific set of technologies and a more focused research question, project completion is feasible in the 10 week duration of the program.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes
To answer this question, the student will conduct a survey of business articles to ascertain the range of uses of the technology and examine the social media policies of a range of companies. The student will then be asked to develop a framework that categorizes social media policies. The next goal is to identify the relationship between company policies and innovation in the use of these technologies. The project deliverable will be a 15 page research paper highlighting the key findings. The specific skills that the student will acquire are case research skills, qualitative data analysis, and (research) writing skills.

Recommended Readings:
1) Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful, Beth Simone Noveck.
2) Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business, Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler.
3) Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, Charlene Li

Prerequisites: A strong interest in the application of IT to business, preference to business, business information management and social science majors, evidence of superior academic achievement, strong writing skills, analytical abilities.

  Project #12:  Study and Implementation of Flexible Physical Layer Algorithms for a Software-Defined Radio Platform
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Hamid JafarkhaniElectrical Engineering & Computer Science

Description:  The objective of this project is to extend an existing flexible, physical layer algorithmic architecture (including synchronization and channel estimation algorithms, channel coding, etc.) so that is it can be more robust and efficient while running on a software-defined radio platform. The extended algorithmic architecture should be able to:
i) operate in lower signal-to-noise ratio regimes than the existing,
ii) provide higher throughput transmissions than the existing, and
iii) operate in a wider range of operational scenarios (i.e., carrier frequencies, sampling frequencies, transmission channels, etc.) than the existing.

A software-defined radio (SDR) is a radio communication system in which algorithmic components that are typically implemented in dedicated and optimized hardware are instead implemented in terms of software on general application or on embedded computational devices. Therefore, software-defined radios are highly flexible and re-configurable and they can operate in a plethora of miscellaneous transmission scenarios. However, due to the absence of per-algorithmic-component optimized hardware the increased flexibility comes at the cost of reduced processing capabilities (in terms of latency, processing power). Therefore, in the framework of SDR, it is crucial to design efficient and simple-to-implement algorithmic architectures, able to run under the limitations of the employed platform and still allow efficient operation over a range of operational scenarios with acceptable throughput and error-rate performance.

Our existing flexible algorithmic architecture runs on a Universal-Software-Radio-Peripheral 2 platform, and it supports Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), similarly to the WiMax and LTE standards, as well as modern multiple-antenna transmission techniques.

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes
The activities include computer simulations in MATLAB GNU Radio programming in C++ and Python, and finally experimental tests on radios. Sample expected outcome includes C++ and Python code for extending the current physical layer algorithmic architecture and experimental results tested on radios. Through this involvement, the student will improve programming skills, get experience in developing signal processing algorithms for real wireless systems, and make an understanding of wireless communications - from theory to implementation and from software to hardware.

Recommended Readings:
Andreas Goldsmith, Wireless Communications. Cambridge
University Press: U.K., 2005.
Heinrich Meyr, et al, Digital Communication Receivers
Processing, Wiley Series, ISBN: 0471502758.

Prerequisites: The student should have prior coursework on digital communications and/or signal processing, and knowledge of C/C++ and MATLAB programming are preferred.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Information about GNU radio: :

  Project #13:  Sugar-Powered Fuel Cells
Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Lawrence KulinskyMechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Description:  Currently, implantable biomedical devices depend on non-rechargeable (primary) batteries, such as Li/iodide, or secondary (rechargeable) batteries like Li-ion batteries. Both approaches have several serious drawbacks in terms of safety, reliability and scalability. The goal of this project is the design and fabrication of a miniaturized high efficiency biofuel cell that will take advantage of the naturally generated biochemical compounds in the body like glucose (a form of sugar) and draw power in a natural, continuous manner. The key component of the project is combining the fractal geometry of the electrodes with genetically engineered electronically efficient enzymes. The fractal design of the electrodes will allow for the most optimal volume-to-surface ratio while maintaining a low internal resistance, thus increasing the current density to the levels needed to power current implantable devices. Further, it will promote favorable linking of the enzymes to the electrode surface and improve electron transfer rate. The goals of this project are:
1. Designing and Modeling Carbon-MEMS based electrode geometries under different enzyme characteristics and loading conditions
2. Optimizing covalent attachment of the enzymes to the electrodes while retaining their electrochemical and catalytic activity
3. Achieving high electron transfer efficiency by use of direct and indirect electron mediators.
4. Complete electrochemical characterization of the biofuel system to meet device specifications.

The experimental data will be used to optimize the modeling parameters of the biofuel cell system, while the fundamental interactions at the enzyme-electrode interface will be studied to explain the electrochemistry of biological interfaces that scale with fractal dimensions.

Recommended Readings
1) Neto, S. A., Forti, J. C., and A. R. De Andrade “An Overview of Enzymatic Biofuel Cells”, Electrocatalysis, 1 (1), 87-94 (2010)
2) Sharma CS, Katepalli H, Sharma A, Madou M. “Fabrication and electrical conductivity of suspended carbon nanofiber arrays”, Carbon, 49 (5), 1727-1732 (2011)

Prerequisites: Students with interests ranging across molecular biology, BioMEMS, Microfabrication, green energy or physical modeling are welcome to apply. There is a strong preference for students with hands-on chemistry experience. Other appropriate training will be provided to bring the students up to par with the project needs.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Madou Bio-MEMS lab:

  Project #14:  Thermal Shock Behavior of Zirconia-Based Oxygen Sensors
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Martha L. MecartneyChemical Engineering & Materials Science

Description:  The lifetime of zirconia-based oxygen sensors in automobiles can be dramatically shortened if water from the exhaust stream comes in contact with the sensor. The sensor operates at 900°C and the rapid change in external temperature can cause thermal shock and failure of the sensor. Research in the Mecartney group investigates the thermal shock behavior of 8 mol% yttria-stabilized zirconia (8YSZ) with second phases such as silica, alumina and mullite. Theoretical calculations show that the thermal shock resistance should increase with the amount of these second phases. To improve these predictions, computational modelings of different microstructure designs are simulated using an object-oriented finite (OOF) element analysis software developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Student’s Involvement and Expected Outcomes
The student will learn how to apply the OOF software to the material systems of interest and conduct virtual experiments. The student will evaluate new material systems, create virtual microstructures, perform simulations and learn the fundamentals of finite element analysis. The student will gain research experience in Photoshop and Illustrator, learn to use Linux and Ubuntu based programs, and the science and technology of ceramic oxygen sensors.

Recommended Readings
1) OOF - an Image-Based Finite-Element Analysis of Material Microstructures. Langer S., Carter W.C., Fuller E.R., COMPUTER SCIENCE ENGINEERING Volume: 3 Issue: 15 Published: 2001
2) Strength and Thermal Shock Properties of Scandia-Doped Zirconia for Thin Electrolyte Sheet of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell. Honda S, Kimata K, Hashimoto S, et al., MATERIALS TRANSACTIONS Volume: 50 Issue: 7 Special Issue: Sp. Iss. SI Pages: 1742-1746 Published: JUL 2009
3) Damage evolution during microcracking of brittle solids. Zimmermann A, Carter W.C., Fuller E.R. ACTA MATERIALIA Volume: 49 Issue: 1 Pages: 127-137 Published: JAN 8 2001

Prerequisites: The student must have completed E54, Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering, with a grade of B or better and should have a 3.0 GPA minimum. Experience in C++ or Python is an asset, but not required.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   NIST web site about the OOF software:

  Project #15:  Understanding Player Dynamics in Avoidance and Thwarting Games for Use in Promoting Behavior Reduction
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Bill TomlinsonInformatics

Description:  Games and other interactive experiences are increasingly being studied and used as tools for solving significant societal problems. These serious games and games for change are not only fun to play, but also provide some other value to society (such as education, health care, or scientific exploration) and demonstrate how games can promote pro-social behavior change. However, achieving some desired social goals, such as environmental sustainability, may also require promoting behavior reduction: people need to stop performing undesirable actions in addition to adopting new positive behaviors. We are thus studying how games can be developed that encourage behavior reduction—particularly pervasive games that use ubiquitous technology to integrate the virtual world with the real world and can directly influence player actions and behaviors.
As a first stage in this research, we will examine current forms of game-play: "avoidance games" and "thwarting games". Avoidance games are games in which players try to achieve a goal while avoiding a certain set of behaviors (e.g., communicating a word without talking, in Charades, or killing an opponent without been seen, in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood). These games may be directly extended into pervasive games that encourage people reduce their behavior by avoiding certain actions. Thwarting games are those in which players create obstacles for their opponents to overcome—a dynamic as part of strategic play in almost all competitive multiplayer games (e.g., blocking roads in Settlers of Catan, forcing a draw in Uno or Crazy Eights, or hitting an opponent with a shell in Mario Kart). Social thwarting dynamics are a highly engaging and fun component of many board games and video games, and thus may be an effective method of engaging players in playing pervasive games for behavior reduction.
We will study how these kinds of game mechanics and dynamics are practiced by players in existing digital and non-digital games. The summer research will aim to answer the following questions:
1. What are the characteristics of "avoidance games" that make them engaging and fun to play?
2. In what ways do players practice and negotiate the use of "thwarting" strategies in digital and non-digital games?
The performed studies and research will begin to provide answers and directions to questions such as:
3. What aspects of pervasive thwarting games can be supported by technological systems?
4. What characteristics of pervasive thwarting games are best suited to promoting environmentally sustainable behavior reduction?

Student's Involvement and Expected Outcomes
The SURF-IT fellow will participate in a variety of research activities. During Weeks 1-5, the student will assist with recruiting subjects for user studies of thwarting games, performing observations (based on ethnographic method), and analyzing the qualitative data that is collected. This process will allow the student to develop skills conducting ethnographic user studies involving human subjects for Human-Computer, as well as skills performing analysis of qualitative data. During Weeks 6-8, the student will collaborate in designing game-play for a prototype pervasive game that can encourage environmentally sustainable behavior reduction, based on the results of the user studies. This will give the student experience designing games and other interactive systems that make use of pervasive technologies. Finally, in Weeks 9-10, the student will assist in writing up the results of this project (including a literature review on social dynamics in competitive games), with the goal of submitting a full paper jointly authored with Tomlinson and graduate student Joel Ross to the ACM SIGCHI conference by the end of the summer.

Recommended Readings
1) El-Nasr, M.S., Aghabeigi, B., Milam, D., et al. Understanding and evaluating cooperative games. Proceedings of the 28th international conference on Human factors in computing systems, ACM (2010), 253–262.
2) Ferebee, S. Successful Persuasive Technology for Behavior Reduction: Mapping to Fogg’s Gray Behavior Grid. Persuasive Technology, (2010), 70-81.
3) Montola, M., Stenros, J., and Waern, A. Pervasive Games: Theory and Design. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers Inc., 2009.
4) Tomlinson, B. Greening through IT. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2010.
5) Voida, A., Carpendale, S., and Greenberg, S. The individual and the group in console gaming. Proceedings of the 2010 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work, ACM (2010), 371–380.

Prerequisites: The student should have expertise in performing user studies and interviews. The student should also have a familiarity with current video games. An interest in or experience with systems for environmental sustainability is also a significant plus.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Tomlinson lab page: