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.

2012 SURF-IT Research Projects

The following faculty-mentored research projects are available during the 2012 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) Classification of Programs and Program Optimization for Performance (Completion Time) versus Power Consumption 

    2) Cloud-Based Writing in K-12 Schools 

    3) Collapse Informatics: Sociotechnical Systems to Support Preparation for and Adaptation Following the Collapse of a Complex Society 

    4) Design of Adaptive Challenge Software for Game-Based Hand Rehabilitation 

    5) Design of Oxygen Sensors 

    6) Development of a Blood Purification Device for Sepsis Treatment  

    7) Information Technologies to Enhance Stem Cell Analysis and Isolation 

    8) Load Signature Study for Home Energy Management 

    9) Manipulation of Mechanical Devices in Video Games: Implications for Understanding the Material and the Immaterial in Computing Experience 

    10) Opportunities for Designing Technologies for Migraine Management 

    11) Simulation and its Discontents 

    12) Study, Simulation, and Implementation of a Network Monitoring Capability for a MANET Formed by Software-Defined Radios 

    13) The Causality Project 

 Project #1:  Classification of Programs and Program Optimization for Performance (Completion Time) versus Power Consumption
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Alex NicolauComputer Science

Description:  Empirical and analytical performance modeling play an important role in the context of computing for improving program performance. In the past, the meaning of performance optimization had been limited to the discovery of sources of program inefficiencies that limit the attainment of the minimum completion time of a program on a given system architecture. Currently, the goal of achieving minimum completion time must be traded-off against the minimization of the power consumption. This is important not only for avoiding hardware malfunctioning and increasing processor life span, but also has positive implications for the environment (i.e., pollution reduction, resources conservation).

Many performance suites/tools have been developed to date; however, their capabilities are still limited at pointing out anomalies in programs? behavior and relying on the expertise of software developers for identifying and narrowing down the possible sources of such anomalies. In other words, current performance tools do not provide any hints on the possible sources of performance issues and, in addition, these profiling tools are power agnostic.

In contrast, we are proposing to develop a performance modeling/analysis framework with enhanced capabilities. While relying on basic profiling analysis tools, the information gathered by our tools will be aggregated and used to address many new aspects of performance analysis, including, but not limited to the following: (1) Performance modeling/prediction? this involves building hybrid analytic and empirical performance models; (2) Performance analysis?this includes the automatic back-tracking to the sources of performance issues to automatically optimize (or at the very least pinpoint ways to optimize) either completion time or power or allow meaningful tradeoffs between these; (3) Program classification and anomaly detection?this includes the study of the relations between program dynamics and intrinsic properties of an implementation of an algorithm; furthermore, assuming that program is designed to have a certain dynamic behavior, such a classification would help detect differences between the actual dynamic behavior of this program and its designed (ideal) behavior. Features outlined (proposed) in points (2) and (3) are non-existent in current state-of-the-art tools, yet are very desirable, as they can have a dramatic impact on virtually any system development project industry-wide.

Student?s Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
The student will be involved full time in the development of a functioning prototype framework in Java incorporating the requirements described in points 1-3 above working closely with the faculty and graduate student involved in this project. This effort will provide solid foundations to the student in performance analysis, systems architecture and programming languages, which will benefit the student in his future academic career, and hopefully will encourage her/him to consider continuing to graduate school in this area of research.

Prerequisites: The ideal candidate must have passed the following classes: ICS21 and 22, (covering Java programming) and Calculus, e.g., Math 2B. An additional course in Statistics would be considered a plus but is not an absolute requirement. Furthermore, a basic knowledge of Linux, including its file system organization and the most popular command line programs; basics of C or C++ programming and program debugging - e.g., with gdb [3] - is highly recommended for both the success of this project and for the student, as it would lead to a smoother and more productive experience. A well qualified and motivated student can expect this summer internship to result in a published paper (perhaps after some additional work) during the coming year.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   [6] Brinkley Sprunt. 2002. The Basics of Performance-Monitoring Hardware. IEEE Micro 22, 4 (July 2002), 64-71
[7] Marco Zagha, Brond Larson, Steve Turner, and Marty Itzkowitz. 1996. Performance analysis using the MIPS R10000 performance counters. In Proceedings of the 1996 ACM/IEEE conference on Supercomputing. : no_site
   [1] The linux command line:
   [2] File system hierarchy standard:
   [3] Using GNU?s gdb debugger -:
   [4] oProfile-:
   [5] R-tutorial, Elementary statistics with R -:

 Project #2:  Cloud-Based Writing in K-12 Schools
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Mark WarschauerEducation

Description:  This project seeks to investigate the teaching and learning of collaborative writing in a K-12 school district. In particular, we wish to examine how pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, professional development, and new collaborative writing tools, such as Google Docs for Education, enable students to improve their writing through interaction with, and feedback from, others, including peers, teachers, and mentors.

Research questions for this project include the following:

1.--What is the effect of using Google Docs on student writing outcomes and processes?
To examine the effect of Google Docs use on student writing outcomes, we collect all middle school students? English language arts (ELA) test scores in all three school years from 2009-2010 to 2011-2012, for one school district, as well as student demographic information, in order to see how the effect varies among students of different demographic groups. Regression analysis will be used to examine the effect, controlling for students? demographic information.

2.--What kind of collaborative writing do teachers and students carry out on Google Docs?
This research question focuses on collaborative writing conducted on Google Docs. Two different forms of collaboration will be examined: A) Students write together on a topic; B) One student writes, and teachers and other students help edit the student?s writing. Server-based data will be used to collect these two forms of collaborative writing. In the first type of collaboration, research will examine how many students work on a paper, how students build their writing on others? writing, and the quality of the collaborative written product. In the second, research will examine how much teachers and students work on others? writing, what kind of feedback they provide for students? writing, and how the quality of student writing affected.

3.--What does the writing process look like on Google Docs? How do students and teachers interact and communicate on a specific writing task on Google Docs?
To answer this research question, two teachers will be selected during the spring quarter. We will observe how the teachers and their students work on a specific writing task with the support of Google Docs. The teachers will be asked to share with us the whole class?s Google Docs files. During the summer, Google Docs files will be analyzed using content analysis; interviews will be conducted with this teacher via Skype.

4.--How does the use of Google apps reconceptualize ELA course standards?
This research question concerns how the use of Google Apps broadens the English language arts course standards. We will examine the relationship between use of technology and each state and national standard, with examples we observed from teacher and student work.

Campus approval for the human-subjects research has already been obtained. The student will be expected to take the campus on-line tutorial about research on human subjects.

Student?s Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
The student is expected to help investigate these four research questions, working collaboratively with two or three graduate students. The student will be responsible for part or all the following four tasks: (1) transcribing and analyzing interviews and classroom observations; (2) quantitatively analyzing students? use of Google Docs, including the frequency of students? use of Google Docs, the number of comments and revisions, and the relationship between their use of Google Docs with their test scores; (3) quantitatively and qualitatively analyzing student and teacher surveys on use of Google Docs in classrooms; and (4) qualitatively analyzing the types of student writing, and the content of students? writing samples on Google Docs. By doing these, the student will develop skills in data management, use of quantitative analysis tools such as Stata, qualitative data analysis, writing skills, and collaborative work with other researchers.

Prerequisites: This position requires an interest in how digital media can be used in education. Some basic knowledge of statistics (e.g., prior coursework) is preferred, but is not required.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Work by Prof. Warschauer - : (1)
   Evaluation of a writing project - : (2)
   About education in the cloud - : (3)

 Project #3:  Collapse Informatics: Sociotechnical Systems to Support Preparation for and Adaptation Following the Collapse of a Complex Society
Faculty Mentor:  Professor William M. TomlinsonInformatics

Description:  Research in many fields predicts that contemporary global industrial civilization will not persist indefinitely in its current form, and may, like many past human societies, eventually collapse. Arguments in environmental studies, geography, anthropology, and other fields indicate that this transformation could begin within the next half century. The potential causes are varied and include declining food or fresh water sources, coastal flooding, failed economic systems, massive emigrations, and health epidemics, any of which may be entangled with climate change, civil disturbances, or other global transformations. While imminent collapse is far from certain, it is prudent to consider now how to develop sociotechnical systems for use in collapse scenarios. Specifically, the proposed research seeks to explore the area of collapse informatics?that is, the study, design, and development of sociotechnical systems in the abundant present for use in a future of scarcity.

In this project, we will begin foundational work in the area of collapse computing. First, observing that collapse computing poses a unique class of cross-cultural design problems, we propose to use methods from anthropology to study existing collapse-like contexts in the real world, and thereby envision likely post-collapse futures. Second, we propose to build on the likely human needs in these potential futures to articulate the design space of this set of concerns and develop methodologies for evaluating this type of research. Finally, we propose to develop a set of specific implementations, several of which are already underway, to test the theoretical formulations of collapse computing that we are creating and that, taken together, will provide a foundation for future collapse computing research.

Student?s Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
The student will engage with existing academic research about collapse, and participate in an implementation project to be determined, based on the current state of the research at that point, and on the student?s skills and interests. Several example projects are described in the paper listed in Recommended Reading below. The research will hopefully lead to a publication, on which the student would potentially be a co-author.

The student will also work with Prof. Don Patterson and Prof. Bonnie Nardi, both in the Department of Informatics.

Prerequisites: The student should have expertise in one or more of the following: computer programming, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, Web design, or anthropology.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Paper by Tomlinson et al., "Collapse Informatics: Augmenting the Sustainability & ICT4D Discourse in HCI":
   Book by archaeologist Joseph Tainter - :

 Project #4:  Design of Adaptive Challenge Software for Game-Based Hand Rehabilitation
Faculty Mentor:  Professor David J. ReinkensmeyerMechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Description:  Patients who have experienced a stroke, brain injury or spinal cord injury often have difficulty grasping objects and performing common tasks using their hands. Intensive practice of functional gripping movements can help improve hand movement recovery by stimulating brain plasticity, but there is little technology available to assist patients in practicing gripping movements on their own. We (BME graduate student Nizan Friedman along with Prof. Bachman and Prof. Reinkensmeyer) have developed a device called the MusicGlove that incorporates conductive fabric to measure when different functional grips, such as key-pinch grips or pincer grips, are completed. We have developed hardware and software that allows the MusicGlove to be used as an input device to play a version of the game GuitarHero, which is the third most popular video game franchise in computer game history. Using the glove, patients attempt to make functional grips to play notes to the music, guided by the visual-auditory gaming interface. In initial testing with 12 individuals with stroke, we have found that training with the MusicGlove produced significantly greater improvements in hand movement ability than conventional hand therapy guided by a physical therapist. In addition, the individuals with stroke preferred the glove to traditional therapy due to its motivating quality

The goal of this SURF-IT project will be to develop and test software that automatically adjusts the challenge level of the MusicGlove therapeutic game. We hypothesize that the efficacy of the MusicGlove will be improved if it challenges the user at an appropriate challenge point, as has been shown in many motor control tasks in the motor learning literature. A key piece of information needed to develop this adaptive challenge software is the challenge level at which users learn the best when playing the MusicGlove. Our premise is that we can use healthy subjects to find the optimal challenge point because many of the same motor learning and motivational issues will be the same in health and following neurologic injury. We will therefore perform an experiment in the e-Health Collaboratory with the MusicGlove in which a group of 30 healthy individuals train with the MusicGlove at different challenge levels, defined by note timing and frequency. We will determine the challenge level at which they improve their hand movement ability the most following three training sessions. Then, we will develop algorithms that automatically adjust the required timing window and song difficulty to the target challenge level based on the measured performance of the user.

Student?s Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
The activities intended for the student and specific skills that the student will develop are:
? Learning how to do human subjects research by completing the Institutional Review Board Tutorial and then participating in the research.
? Learning how conventional stroke therapy is done by observing a stroke therapy session with the MusicGlove.
? Learning how to run the MusicGlove.
? Learning how to build a MusicGlove, including sewing conductive fiber, soldering connections, populating PC board for USB interface, and developing cabling.
? Learning how to alter the MusicGlove software to implement adaptive challenge.
? Learning how to run experiments with the MusicGlove to determine appropriate challenge level.
? Learning how to analyze data from the MusicGlove using MATLAB to identify the appropriate challenge point level.

The research question that the student will solve is how to adjust the challenge level of gaming software automatically to optimize motor learning.

Prerequisites: Student familiarity with programming and electrical circuit design is a preference. Skill in some aspect of music would help too.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Recommended Readings:

Friedman N, Chan V, Zondervan D, Bachman M, Reinkensmeyer DJ (2011) MusicGlove: Motivating and Quantifying Hand Movement Rehabilitation by using Functional Grips to Play Music, Proceedings of the 33rd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC'11), August 30 -September 3, 2011, pp. 2359-2363

Guadagnoli MA, Lee TD (2004) Challenge Point: A framework for conceptualizing the effects of various practice conditions in motor learning, Journal of Motor Behavior, 36:2, 212-224
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 Project #5:  Design of Oxygen Sensors
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Martha MecartneyChemical Engineering & Materials Science

Description:  Oxygen sensors are used to mix the correct air to fuel ratio for complete combustion. Failure of these sensors can be a major source of additional pollution in the environment and are the number one reason for the ?check engine? light. The sensor operates at 900°C and rapid changes in external temperature can cause thermal shock and failure of the sensor. Research in the Mecartney group investigates how to improve the thermal shock behavior of 8 mol% yttria-stabilized zirconia (8YSZ) by modifying the microstructure 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. Computational modeling of different microstructure designs using these and other second phases are simulated using an object-oriented finite (OOF) element analysis software developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Computational results are compared with experimental data on mechanical behavior and ionic conductivity.

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. Active feedback control systems will be implemented for remote data gathering during experiments to characterize the ionic conductivity of these sensors.

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: 
   From the NIST web site -:
   a.---OOF an Image-Based Finite-Element Analysis of Material Microstructures
Author(s):Langer S, Carter WC, Fuller ER
Source: COMPUTER SCIENCE ENGINEERING Volume: 3 Issue: 15 Published: 2001

b.---Strength and Thermal Shock Properties of Scandia-Doped Zirconia for Thin Electrolyte Sheet of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell
Author(s): Honda S, Kimata K, Hashimoto S, et al.
Source: MATERIALS TRANSACTIONS Volume: 50 Issue: 7 Special Issue: Sp. Iss. SI Pages: 1742-1746 Published: JUL 2009

c.---Damage evolution during microcracking of brittle solids
Author(s): Zimmermann A, Carter WC, Fuller ER
Source: ACTA MATERIALIA Volume: 49 Issue: 1 Pages: 127-137 Published: JAN 8 2001

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 Project #6:  Development of a Blood Purification Device for Sepsis Treatment
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Weian ZhaoPharmaceutical Sciences

Description:  Sepsis, systemic inflammatory disease caused by blood-borne pathogens, annually affects over 18 million people worldwide and 700,000 in the U.S., with a mortality rate of approximately 30-40%. Traditional drugs, including broad-spectrum antibiotics and activated protein C, are often ineffective and toxic. An alternative, straightforward treatment is to rapidly remove pathogens from the bloodstream, since this load of pathogenic substances is strongly correlated with morbidity and mortality. The long-term goal of this project is to develop a simple, portable extracorporeal device that efficiently removes a broad range of pathogens from inflected blood and returns ?clean? blood to the body at a clinically relevant throughput without altering the essential blood components. We have been developing an innovative and interdisciplinary approach where we integrate novel bacteria capture biomolecules, surface and polymer chemistry and microfluidic chip device engineering. This summer project will specifically focus on interfacing the bacteria capture biomolecules and microfluidic device to address the question of how surface graft density and length of biomolecules immobilized on the surface of device affect bacteria capture efficiency. The project will potentially lead to devices that treat sepsis with a level of clinical performance currently impossible in existing systems, and expand our knowledge of cell and molecular mechanics of biological materials, which is critical for designing miniaturized therapeutic and diagnostic devices.

Student?s Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
The student will be trained as a first-year PhD student. The student will be mentored directly under the PI and senior postdocs in the lab. He/she will learn how to independently search/read literature, develop ideas, design experiments, conduct experiments, participate in group discussions, present data in group meetings and write reports/manuscripts. The student will be given a specific project question (i.e. how surface graft density and length of biomolecules immobilized on the surface of a device affect bacteria capture efficiency) that he/she will lead independently. Meanwhile, he/she will be involved in discussion with other postdocs/graduate students who are conducting other parts of the project to get a big picture. We have very high expectation of the student: at the end of the internship, the student should be able to work comfortably as an independent researcher, under the guidance of mentors, towards addressing important biological and medical questions. He/she should gain significant knowledge and experiences in microfabrication, surface and polymer chemistry, materials science and cell culture/analysis. He/she will also be expected to co-author a paper in due course.

Some of the experiments will involve Biosafety level 2 (BSL2) bacteria (i.e. E. coli) and their use will be approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) before the student conducts experiments. Human blood from healthy donors will also be used and will be obtained through the Normal Blood Donor Program at the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (ICTS) of UC Irvine (IRB: HS #2001-2058). IRB approval for the use of human blood at the PI?s laboratory will also be in position before experiments. The student will receive specific training in laboratory safety and the proper use and disposal of these agents.

Prerequisites: All dedicated students are encouraged to apply. We value a good attitude more than previous background.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Literature regarding the development of cell-capture devices will be useful for the student to prepare for the project.
For example:
Stott, et al. Isolation and Characterization of Circulating Tumor Cells from Patients with Localized and Metastatic Prostate Cancer. 2010. Sci. Transl. Med. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3000403. : no_site

 Project #7:  Information Technologies to Enhance Stem Cell Analysis and Isolation
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Lisa A. FlanaganPathology

Description:  Stem cells are envisioned as powerful therapeutics for many diseases and injuries, but much remains to be learned to unlock their full potential. Cross-disciplinary approaches provide novel means to analyze and explore stem cell development and determine critical parameters necessary for the use of these cells as therapeutics. We have formed a team with faculty from the disciplines of biology and engineering to explore stem cells and have determined that the behavior of these cells in specific types of electric fields reveals novel information about stem cell phenotype. Our analyses have also uncovered a biophysical property of the stem cell plasma membrane, the membrane capacitance, that serves as a label-free indicator of stem cell fate potential.

This approach to the study of stem cell biology has revealed novel characteristics of stem cell physiology as well as provided a rapid method for stem cell isolation. These advances have generated a need for information technology systems to enhance data analysis and collection, stem cell characterization, and optimization of sorting parameters. The goal of the project is to use a cross-disciplinary knowledge base from biology, engineering, and information technology to enhance the use of stem cells to treat human disease and injury.

Student?s Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
The student will be an active component of a team including graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and the faculty mentors to define optimal IT solutions to the challenges involved in stem cell analysis and sorting. Tasks will include the development of MATLAB and/or LabVIEW programs to enable automated data collection and analysis for studies involving the characterization and sorting of neural stem cells. Programs to extract feature information from electrical signals, as well as automated image analysis, will be crucial to increasing the throughput of novel sorting technologies and the likelihood of translation of this technology to therapy. In addition, the student will assist in the design and fabrication of microfluidic devices to optimize cell characterization and sorting. Cross-disciplinary group meetings between labs in the Schools of Engineering and Medicine will enhance exposure of the student to the interface of technology development, quantitative biological analysis, and biological therapeutics.

The student will also work with Prof. Abraham Lee, in Biomedical Engineering.

Prerequisites: We expect the most appropriate backgrounds for students on this project will include some aspects of computer science, engineering (electrical, biomedical), and computational biology, with some knowledge of programming a plus.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Recommended readings:

Flanagan, L.A., J. Lu, L. Wang, S.A. Marchenko, N. Jeon, A.P. Lee, E.S. Monuki. Unique dielectric properties distinguish stem cells and their differentiated progeny. Stem Cells 26(3): 656-665, 2008.

Labeed, F.H., J. Lu, H.J. Mulhall, S.A. Marchenko, K.F. Hoettges, L.C. Estrada, A.P. Lee, M.P. Hughes, L.A. Flanagan. Biophysical characteristics reveal neural stem cell differentiation potential. PLoS ONE 6(9):e25458, 2011.

Pethig, R., A. Menachery, S. Pells, P. De Sousa. Dielectrophoresis: a review of applications for stem cell research. J. Biomed. Biotechnol. 2010:182581, 2010.

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 Project #8:  Load Signature Study for Home Energy Management
Faculty Mentor:  Professor G.P. LiElectrical Engineering & Computer Science

Description:  Residential electricity consumption, together with its associated generation and distribution losses, accounts for 15% of the total US energy consumption today. A 2005 residential consumption survey found that about 30% of a home?s electricity is used by miscellaneous plug loads (presumably dominated by electronics), and the latest Department of Energy projections estimate that this will grow to almost 40% by 2035, while the energy demands of white goods and lighting will remain relatively stable. Therefore, electronic appliances represent one of the fastest growing areas of national energy use. In California, the relative importance of energy use by electronic devices is greater because of our lower heating and cooling needs. In California a greater fraction of household energy is used for electronics: 45% compared with the 30% national average (2005 data).

Each type of appliance or electronic device has its own ?signature? waveform as it starts, operates, or shuts down. Using lab instruments or smart meters to detect these differences, attempts have been made to program the automatic recognition of devices as they start, operate, or shut down, in order to provide opportunities for automatic energy management. However, much remains to be learned about:
(a)--identifying different devices and their operating conditions (idle, normal, overload) from their waveforms,
(b)--selecting and formatting the most useful data for analysis,
(c)--programming the recognition of the separate appliances when many are in use, and
(d)--automating the decisions to control total energy consumption in a particular setting.
Ultimately, local ?demand response? would be possible by balancing system-wide power factor and minimizing system load.

Students? Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
One or two students are sought for this project to work on steps (a), (b), and possibly (c), for at least a few appliances. The student(s) will first engage in unit appliance power analysis at various working modes. They will then generate a number of electric features unique to each device, such as current waveform, active and reactive power, harmonics etc. The student(s) will continue to develop a MATLAB or equivalent program to be able to distinguish an appliance ID from a complex waveform, based on at least two power features.
The student(s) will also work closely with Dr. Yang (Arthur) Zhang, Technology Manager for the California Plug Load Research Center.

Prerequisites: Applicants should have basic electronics laboratory training, familiarity with LabVIEW and instrumentation, and competence in MATLAB or equivalent data analysis tools. Students with a GPA of 3.0 or better are preferred.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Jian Liang, Simon K. K. Ng, Gail Kendall, and John W. M. Cheng, ?Load Signature Study?Part I: Basic Concept, Structure, and Methodology? IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, Vol. 25, No. 2, April 2010:
   Jian Liang, Simon K. K. Ng, Gail Kendall, and John W. M. Cheng, ?Load Signature Study?Part II: Disaggregation Framework, Simulation, and Applications, ? IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, Vol. 25, No. 2, April 2010:
   G.W. hart, ?Non-intrusive appliance load monitoring,? Proceedings of the IEEE, December 1992.:

 Project #9:  Manipulation of Mechanical Devices in Video Games: Implications for Understanding the Material and the Immaterial in Computing Experience
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Bonnie NardiInformatics

Description:  Video games have become a mainstream activity for both recreation and education. As immaterial software artifacts, video games can register the player?s intent only through the materiality of mechanical devices such as controllers, mice, and keyboards. This research poses two questions: (1) How does the manipulation of mechanical devices relate to the gaming experience as specified by the software? (2) How do we measure and describe these manipulations so that we can better understand the human relation to immaterial software artifacts as produced through material mechanical devices?

In this study of mechanical gaming devices, Heidegger?s notion of ?ready-to-hand? is relevant: our interaction with the tool (in this case the mechanical devices) becomes as unconscious as the use of our own hand. As a result, the player no longer needs to be consciously concerned with the mechanics of a gaming device, freeing the player to focus directly on his or her interaction with the game itself. Approaching the study of skill acquisition from a Heideggerian perspective, along with the principles of activity theory that theorize unconscious, practiced, habitual behaviors, we will attempt to understand the player?s cognizance of his or her interaction with devices and how he or she construes the relation to the underlying software, including the learning needed to attain habituated practice. We will analyze the processes of acquiring techniques by teachable methods (e.g., reading forums and strategy guides) versus acquiring skills by heuristic methods (e.g., learning through trial and error, practicing, and imitating other players).

Student Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
To perform the research, we will conduct interviews, analyze video recordings of players manipulating mechanical devices, and discuss the methods players use to have a more successful interactive experience (rated both by the metrics of the game and personal satisfaction of the user). We will choose three different video games to so we can study different devices, and the ways usage of the same device may vary by game. An IRB application will be filed for the work; the student will be expected to take the campus on-line tutorial about research on human subjects.

Prerequisites: I am seeking a student knowledgeable about a range of video games, as the research will examine different kinds of devices. The student must be willing to read and apply some theory and be motivated to co-author a paper on the study findings.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Recommended Readings:

While this list is short, these are difficult readings. I would prefer that the student tackle primary sources and work his or her way through theory as a fundamental research experience.

Heidegger, M. 1962. Being and Time. English translation. New York: Harper and Row.

Kaptelinin, V. and Nardi, B. 2006. Acting with Technology: Activity Theory and Interaction Design. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Vygotsky, L. 1978. Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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 Project #10:  Opportunities for Designing Technologies for Migraine Management
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Yunan ChenInformatics

Description:  The most common symptom of a migraine is a headache. Beyond that, migraines may also associate with other less common symptoms, such as vasodilation and photophobia [4]. Even though migraines are among the most common neurological diseases in adults, patients who have migraines are often ?under-diagnosed? and ?undertreated? [1]. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) [2], 25% of women and 8% of men suffer from migraines in their lifetime, while 6-8% of men and 15-18% of women experience migraines each year [3]. Migraines occur mostly between the ages of 25 and 50. Nevertheless, almost half of patients do not even know that they have migraines; instead, they usually believe that they only have sinus headaches [3].

Individual differences play a significant role in migraines: pain intensity, pain location, and pain triggers vary greatly from person to person. Additionally, every individual experiences a different combination of these symptoms. The wide range of triggers and uncertain nature of symptoms makes it particularly difficult to recognize and diagnose a migraine. Migraines are often identified through subjective information (what the patient feels) and cannot be determined through diagnostic measures, such as spinal tap, CT scan, and MRI. Due to the invisibility of the disease to physicians who diagnose and treat patients, as well as to patients who may lack sufficient knowledge to recognize it, the diagnosis and treatment of migraines is considered challenging for both doctors and patients alike.

In spite of the apparent complications of migraine care, there has been no research in the HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) community to help alleviate these strains. Only medical and clinical studies address the physiology and neurological mechanisms of migraines. People with migraines commonly have recurring symptoms associated with certain types of behaviors in their daily lives. Understanding what factors may trigger migraines and how migraines affect one?s daily routine can help patients better manage the disease, avoid the onset of a migraine, and even facilitate their communication with doctors. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine the experiences of migraine sufferers with disease management, and to identify opportunities for migraine management. The knowledge gained through this research will serve as a guide for designing technologies that will help migraine patients identify triggers and better manage their illness. Our aim is to develop design concepts and for technological systems that support better migraine management. Use of innovative mobile technology solutions for the collecting and reporting of patients? routine behaviors can enable changes in clinical practices, helping providers discover early triggers of migraines and strengthen the support for patient self-management at home.

Student Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
We aim to promote the importance of technological systems in facilitating health management for those who suffer from migraines. This study will help us better understand the process of everyday disease management: the triggers, symptoms, challenges and strategies for managing migraines. It will also help us obtain insights for designing information systems that support better disease management. In particular, we are interested in how such technologies could both support easy identification of migraine triggers, and reduce the frequency of migraine onsets, through the use of the designed system. Additionally, this research will bridge the communication gap between patients and clinicians.

The selected student will be provided with the necessary instruction for conducting contextual interviews. The student will meet with the faculty every week to discuss work progress. The student is expected to conduct 10-15 user interviews during the ten-week summer internship and work with faculty to analyze interview data. The student is required to write a ten-page report by the end of the summer. It is also expected that the student continue to work on data analysis after the SURF-IT program has been completed, and publish the results with a faculty mentor. The student will develop skill sets in collecting and analyzing qualitative data, and writing publishable-quality papers. We plan to publish and disseminate findings in various research venues, such as CHI, DIS, CSCW, and AMIA conferences. IRB approval for this project has already been obtained, and we will ask the selected student to take the campus online tutorial about research on human subjects before the summer term starts.

1. Donnet, A., Becker, H., Allaf, B., Lantéri-Minet, M. Migraine And Migraines Of Specialists: Perceptions And Management. Headache: The Journal Of Head & Face Pain 50.7 (2010): 1115-1125.
4. Milanlioglu, A., Tombul, T., Sayin, R., Odabafl, O.F., Sahin, M. Autonomic Symptoms In Migraineurs: Are They Of Clinical Importance. Medical Bulletin Of Haseki / Haseki Týp Bülteni 49.2 (2011): 62-66.

Prerequisites: Students who have qualitative fieldwork experience or have prior health knowledge are preferred. Prior coursework, such as Medical Informatics would be beneficial. The student is responsible for contacting the faculty mentor as soon as they are selected, in order to receive the human subject training before beginning their research.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Recommended Readings:

1. Holroyd, K. Assessment and psychological treatment of recurrent headache disorders. J. of Consulting and Clinical Psycholy (2002), 70, 656-677.
2. Winter, A.C. et al. Association between lifestyle factors and headache. J. Headache Pain.(2011), 12(2), 147-155.
3. Chen, Y.C. Take it personally: Accounting for individual difference in designing diabetes management systems. In Proceedings of DIS '10, 252-261.
4. Mamykina, L., Mynatt, E. D., and Kaufman, D. R. 2006. Investigating health management practices of individuals with diabetes. In Proceedings of CHI '06. 927-936.
5. Beyer, H. Holtzblatt, K. Contextual Design: Defining Customer-Centered Systems. Morgan Kaufmann. 1997.

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 Project #11:  Simulation and its Discontents
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Peter O. KrappFilm & Media Studies

Description:  Advances in computer simulation have been turned to the ends of an increasingly powerful and profitable entertainment industry, but have also opened up new vistas in numerous academic disciplines. This project will survey the media history of simulation, from war gaming to flight simulators, and from radar screens to immersive graphic user interfaces.

Student's Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
The kinds of activities intended for project participants include: a) readings in studies of computer simulation, b) hands-on experiences with simulations (from flight trainers to computer games and from social media mining to weather data), and c) thought experiments.

The expected skills students will develop as a result are historical and conceptual knowledge about simulation. Specific research trajectories yet to develop will start with the general question of whether our social media age presents a third phase in simulation, coming after cybernetic feedback in equation-based models, and after agent-based models.

Prerequisites: Full-time UCI undergraduates in good standing from any disciplines. Preference is usually given to students who have junior or senior standing; students expecting to graduate in June or September 2012 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: 
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   1. Ackerman, Evan: "Living Earth Simulator will predict the future of everything," DVice (December 31, 2010),
2. Becker, Henk A: "The Emergence of Simulation and Gaming" Simulation & Gaming 11:1 (March 1980), 11-25
3. Beer, Stafford: "Fanfare for Effective Freedom" (Third Richard Goodman Memorial Lecture)
4. Bowker, Geof: "How to Be Universal: Some Cybernetic Strategies, 1943-70," Social Studies of Science, 23:1 (Feb. 1993), 107-127
5. Fine, Gary Alan: "Fantasy Games and Social Worlds: Simulation as Leisure," Simulation & Gaming 12:3 (September 1981), 251-279
6. Hayles, Katherine: "Simulating Narratives: What Virtual Creatures Can Teach Us," Critical Inquiry 26 (autumn 1999), 1-26
7. Helbing, Dirk et al., "From Social Simulation to Integrative Systems Design,"
8. Hughes, Barry: "The International Futures Modeling Project," Simulation & Gaming 30:3 (Sept 1999), 304-326
9. Huyssen, Andreas: "In the Shadow of McLuhan: Jean Baudrillard's Theory of Simulation" Assemblage No. 10 (Dec. 1989), 6-17
10. Ihde, Don: "Models, Models Everywhere," J. Lenhard, G. Ku_ppers, and T. Shinn eds., Simulation: Pragmatic Construction of Reality (New York: Springer 2006), 79-86.
11. Jenkins, Peter: "Historical Simulations - Motivational, Ethical, and Legal Issues," Journal of Futures Studies 11:1 (August 2006), 23-42
12. Keller, Evelyn F.: "Models, Simulation, and 'Computer Experiments'," The Philosophy of Scientific Experimentation, ed. H. Radder (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press 2003), 198-215
13. Landa, Manuel de: "Virtual Environments and the Emergence of Synthetic Reason," Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture, ed. Mark Dery (South Atlantic Quarterly 92:4, fall 1993: Durham: Duke UP 1994), 793-815 or
14. Lahsen, Myanna: "Seductive Simulations? Uncertainty Distribution Around Climate Models," Social Studies of Science 35:6 (December 2005), 895-922
15. McCarty, Willard: "Modeling: A Study in Words and Meanings", S Schreibman, R Siemens, J Unsworth eds., A Companion to Digital Humanities (Oxford: Blackwell 2004), ch19:
16. Shubik, Martin and Garry D Brewer: Models, Simulations, and Games - A Survey. RAND Report R-1060-ARPA/RC, May 1972
17. Uricchio, William: "Simulation, History, and Computer Games," Joost Raessens and Jeffrey Goldstein, eds., Handbook of Computer Game Studies (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2005), 327-338
18, Winsberg, Eric: "Sanctioning Models: The Epistemology of Simulation," Science in Context 12:2 (1999), 275-292
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 Project #12:  Study, Simulation, and Implementation of a Network Monitoring Capability for a MANET Formed by Software-Defined Radios
Faculty Mentor:  Professor Hamid JafarkhaniElectrical Engineering & Computer Science

Description:  The objective of this project is to develop a monitoring capability for a Software Defined Radio (SDR) testbed. Our existing Mobile Ad-Hoc Network (MANET) is populated by a number of SDR-based network nodes. Each node is formed by a collection of Universal Software Radio Peripherals (USRP) running on GNU Radio and a general purpose PC running on Linux OS. As a result of our previous work, each node runs on a full MANET stack spanning over PHY, MAC, NETWORK, TRANSPORT, and APPLICATION layers. The purpose of this project is to equip each MANET node with a GPS device so that the following goals can be achieved.

i)--Each node can report its position information using the GPS to a central work station node running on Linux OS and/or mobile agents running on Android OS.

ii)--A central monitoring station or one of its mobile agents show the position of the nodes on Google Maps by interfacing to the Google map API.

iii)--The central monitoring station or one of its mobile agents display color-coded connectivity graphs of the network on Google Maps in real-time reflecting the quality of the links and the actual topology of the network.

Student?s Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
The activities include computer simulations in MATLAB NS2, and NS3 environments; JAVA programming and interfacing to the Google map API; GNU Radio programming in C++ and Python, and finally experimental tests on radios. Sample expected outcome includes MATLAB and NS2/NS3 simulation code, as well as C++ and Python code for the algorithmic implementation of network monitoring.

Through this involvement, the student will improve programming skills, get experience in developing signal processing algorithms for real wireless systems, and gain understanding of wireless networking?from theory to implementation and from software to hardware.

Prerequisites: Students with prior coursework on digital communications and/or signal processing and knowledge of Android OS interfaces, Google map, NS2/NS3, C/C++, MATLAB programming are preferred.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Load-adaptive MAC protocol:
   Information about Google map programming interface :
   Information about GNU radio:

 Project #13:  The Causality Project
Faculty Mentor:  Professor William M. TomlinsonInformatics

Description:  Humans often have difficulty understanding complex chains of causality, even though such complexities are common in the modern world. Environmental issues are a clear example of this phenomenon?many people do not think about where the resources that supply their lifestyles come from, where their wastes go, or what effects more broadly are brought about by the civilizations in which they live. The project proposed here seeks to help address this disconnect by means of the creation of a novel online system called The Causality Project. The system collects information from members of the Internet community about causal relationships across a wide range of environmentally-relevant topics, and helps people discover and understand the indirect chains of causality that surround them. The key goals of the proposed research include: understanding how knowledge about causality that is currently distributed across many different individuals, institutions, documents, and archives may be coalesced into a single location, so that humans may take advantage of the synergies that such a collection would enable; determining how a computational system may archive and visualize causal maps in a way that is appropriate to contemporary social issues such as the environmental concerns; and disseminating the findings of this research broadly to help adolescents and adults learn about indirect causality and systems thinking.

This research project will also involve an effort to develop, deploy, and evaluate a prototype of an interactive educational experience designed to help adolescents learn about systems thinking by interacting with causal networks derived from real world environmental issues. This education experience will adapt a subset of the Causality Project database to serve as the computational underpinnings for an interactive digital exhibit. The prototype will be developed in collaboration with the Aquarium of the Pacific, and will seek to help adolescents understand the causal connections between activities in their own lives and the organisms that they can see at the Aquarium.

Student?s Involvement and Expected Outcomes:
The student will participate in a variety of research activities: engaging with existing academic research about causality and informal science education, implementing portions of the broader system, and contributing to a publication about the project. The research will hopefully lead to a publication, on which the student would potentially be a co-author.

Prerequisites: The student should have expertise in designing and programming for the Web and/or iPads. An interest in education, marine science, and/or philosophy would be a plus.

Recommended Web sites and publications: 
   Article about The Causality Project - :
   Chapter 1 of Prof. Tomlinson's book, Greening Through IT - :