SEAS Newsletter

Week of November 30 – December 6, 2009

Faculty News:

Conferences & Presentations:
Prof. Michael Plesniak (MAE chair) attended the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics in Minneapolis, MN, November 22nd – 24th.  He chaired the "Biofluids VII: Phonation/Glottal Flows" session and made three presentations with his students and collaborators, including MAE research scientist, Fangjun Shu: "Evolution of streamwise vortices in a 180 degree circular bend under physiological flow conditions"; "The development of supraglottal flow structures during speech"; and "Three-dimensional flow patterns in a scaled, physical vocal fold model with a unilateral polyp."  Prof. Plesniak also participated in a workshop for young faculty members to learn about NSF's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, and the "Fluids Education Workshop," in which fluid mechanics educators discussed topics such as curricula comparisons, best practices, simple experiments and demonstrations, use of concept questions, and more.

Other News:
The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Society for Engineering Education have invited Prof. Pinhas Ben-Tzvi (MAE) to serve on its mechanical engineering panel for the 2010 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

Purdue University and the University of Hanover have collaborated to develop, an international online exhibition portal for industries and universities with a special focus on automation and robotics systems. The virtual hall Universities & Research offers robotics departments a cost-free single platform to exhibit their research videos, photos and descriptions, (submersibles, unmanned vehicle systems, vision, humanoids etc.), as well as a platform to connect research, entrepreneurship, and education.  As part of EXPO21XX, Prof. Peter Bock (CS) was invited to publish a “booth” about Project ALISA, which has been edited into a complete presentation of the functionality of ALISA and representative results of its application in a variety of industrial and professional domains over the last 20 years, including the results from his recent, funded projects with Bosch and then DTRA (Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the DoD).  Though EXPO21XX is still in its developmental stages, it offers robotics researchers the big advantage of accessing unfolding solutions in technology. To view this site and visit these projects, go to:  To go to the “booth” for Project ALISA, from the above link click on booth G3 (in corridor G), go to:

Prof. Poorvi Vora (CS) was a guest editor for a special issue on electronic voting of the IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security (Vol. 4, Issue 4, Part I, December 2009). The other guest editors were: Ronald L. Rivest (lead guest editor), David Chaum, Bart Preneel, Aviel D. Rubin and Donald G. Saari.


Other News

Graduate Research Assistantship: GW's biomedical engineering program is looking for a graduate student who can combine skills in electronics and mechanical design with some computer experience and an interest in biomedical problems.  The goal is to assemble a system to electrically stimulate rat brains in an effort to control epileptic seizures.  The project will involve development of a MATLAB-based controller for the stimulators and the data-acquisition system, design of the mechanical interface, and adaptation of existing electrodes for the task.   This is a funded research position in electronics and biomedical engineering beginning spring 2010.  The selected student will work with faculty in biomedical engineering and neurosurgery to build and test the system, and then use it in a formal animal study of a new approach to electrical control of seizures.  Essential requirements: scientific rigor; real experience and great interest in building things mechanical and electrical; a B.S. in engineering or computer science; some experience with MATLAB (additional training will be provided); and non-squeamishness around lab animals.  Interested students should contact Prof. Murray Loew, Biomedical Engineering Program, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering: at or (202) 994-5910.


Guest Vignette

Researchers in the Department of Computer Science are working to investigate proper data analytics over web databases.  A web database is usually hidden behind a proprietary form-like web interface. It allows users to specify the desired values for one or a few attributes, and the database responds by displaying a small number of satisfying records on a web page.  The restrictive nature of the input and output interfaces of such hidden web databases presents significant challenges to data analytics and mining tasks. For example, while almost all airline companies provide web services for customers to search for flight fares from the airlines' back-end databases, it has been extremely challenging to mine such databases to predict future fares or flight occupancies, which would be of significant interest to the public.  A research group led by Dr. Nan Zhang, in collaboration with Dr. Gautam Das from the University of Texas at Arlington, has pioneered a number of hidden database sampling techniques to perform data analytics over hidden web databases.  Assisted by graduate research assistant Xin Jin, the research team is currently exploring a novel problem of privacy-preserving searches over hidden databases, which aims to suppress access to sensitive aggregates over hidden web databases. This research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.   (Provided courtesy of Prof. Nan Zhang of the Department of Computer Science)


Upcoming Events

CS Colloquium: Pain and Some Other Dangers AI Poses to Itself and to Society
November 30th
4:00 pm
736 Phillips Hall
More info . . .

ECE Colloquium: The Role of Fault-Tolerance in Quantum Computing
December 1st
12:00 - 1:00 pm
640 Phillips Hall
More info . . .


SEAS 125th Anniversary Events

SEAS Seminar Series: Engineering Challenges in the 21st Century: Monday, November 30th
“Smaller and Faster: Nanomaterials,” Presented by Prof. Martha Pardavi-Horvath (ECE)
6:30 pm
101 Marvin Center
More info . . .

Frank Howard Lecture Series–Dr. Barbara Liskov, Speaker: Wednesday, December 2nd
6:00 - 9:00 pm at 1957 E Street N.W., City View Room
Registration required for this event
More info . . .


Dissertation Defenses:

Name of Student Defending: William Michael Dunaway
Title of Dissertation: "Four Degrees of Proximity: Key Factors that Influence Private Sector Preparedness and Community Planning”
Wednesday, December 2nd at 10:00 am
1776 G Street, NW, Conference Room 120

Name of Student Defending: Kai Xing
Title of Dissertation: "Coding-based Channel Assignment in Multi-channel Wireless Networks”
Thursday, December 3rd at 10:00 am
736 Phillips Hall


>> November 23-29 Newsletter
>> November 16-22 Newsletter
>> November 9-15 Newsletter
>> November 2-8 Newsletter
>> October 26-November 1 Newsletter
>> October 19-25 Newsletter
>> October 12-18 Newsletter
>> October 5-11 Newsletter
>> September 28-October 4 Newsletter
>> September 21-27 Newsletter
>> Continue back to home