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Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute Awards Research Fellowships

New Undergraduate Program Reaches Across 15 Disciplines

Working on laser-guided flying vehicles. Developing a deeper analysis of cancer cells. Deploying data-science algorithms to save endangered mangroves. The Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute at University of California San Diego just launched a new program to fund these and other exciting research projects that engage UC San Diego undergraduate students interested in learning data science.

The Halıcıoğlu Institute has announced its first-ever research undergraduate fellowships, awarded to 34 students funding 27 projects total. The new Undergraduate Fellowship Program awards $2,500 to each student project, all of them guided by experienced mentors. The yearlong fellowships focus on providing hands-on training to emerging data science talent, according to Bradley Voytek, associate professor in the Department of Cognitive Science and the Halıcıoğlu Institute.

“This is an amazing set of projects, from a remarkably diverse range of majors, really emphasizing how special what we're building is,” said Voytek, who also directs the Institute’s fellowship program. A program highlight is the direct guidance each undergraduate researcher receives from mentors from across the campus community and affiliated industry partners.

The inaugural class of fellows from the Halıcıoğlu Institute (pronounced Haw-li-jyo-loo) features undergraduates from some 15 different academic disciplines – from computer science to philosophy. That impressive diversity in major study areas highlights the breadth of subject areas that can benefit from data science applications, noted Voytek.

Other major focus areas of the first class of Institute undergraduate fellows include: biotechnology, cognitive science, engineering (multiple branches), marine biology, mathematics, machine learning and neural computation.

Other fellowship projects include data-science-based research with potential for: bettering baseball by predicting pitcher injuries; accelerating cellphone service by using artificial intelligence; and saving lives by using the realism of augmented reality to search through earthquake rubble.

“The fellowship provides an excellent opportunity for HDSI faculty and industry affiliates to work with our students on projects of interest,” said Rajesh Gupta, a founding co-director of HDSI. Gupta is a UC San Diego Distinguished Professor and the Qualcomm Endowed Chair in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

These students represent the first cohort to conduct data-science-driven research projects, and advance the Institute’s mission to provide a hub connecting data-science resources across the academic spectrum. The Halıcıoğlu Institute plans to award another round of undergraduate fellows mid-way through the academic year, said Voytek. HDSI is also seeking mentors from across the campus community to lend their expertise and experience to guide student research.

All UC San Diego undergraduate students are eligible to compete for fellowship funding. Each fellow works with a mentor to develop analytical skills, data science portfolios, and foster novel data-driven approaches to problem solving. The research program is geared to producing results, with fellows submitting final reports highlighting accomplishments. Learn more about the HDSI Fellowship program here.

HDSI Undergraduate Fellowships awarded fall 2018:

  • Huda Ahmed, Sruthi Vedantham, Leena Elamrawy: Skills to Success Pipeline for Aspiring Data Scientists
  • Jaideep Chakladar: Pan-Cancer Analysis of the Interaction of Immune-Associated Gene Dysregulation and Etiology-Mediated Changes to the Microbiota
  • Geeling Chau: Decoding Working Memory Contents in Auditory Cortex
  • Jairo Chavez: Connections Between Spiking activity and LFP Phase Bands in the Avian Brain
  • Chengyu Chen: Multi-omics Data Integration
  • Karen Chiem: Time-varying Latent Variable Estimation + Posterior Distribution Prediction
  • Stanley Hicks: Mangrove Species Classification Using Machine Learning
  • Arya Kaul: ecDNA in the Context of the Global Cancer Landscape
  • Han Li: Interpreting Correlations Between DNA Methylation Levels and DNA Sequences
  • Wei (Harrison) Li: Integrative Analysis of Genomic, Transcriptomic, and Clinical Data Across 8 Cancer Types Using a Multimodal Deep Belief Net
  • Lauren Liao: Developing Interactive Data Visualization Tools for Large-scale Neural Data Analysis
  • Darren Liu, Rebecca Hu, Parker Addison, Sharmi Mathur: Helping Undeserved Communities in America Make Healthy Food Choices
  • Luyanda Mdanda: Exploring Intra- and Inter-Individual Variation of Neural Oscillations in Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Arjun Nichani: Predicting Pitcher Injuries Using Sabermetrics and Machine Learning
  • Sashaank Pasumarthi: Hand-Label Analysis of Bursting
  • Katherine Qi: Mapping Mangrove Biomass with RGB and Multispectral Drone Imagery
  • James Riback: Augmented Reality for Post-Earthquake Inspection
  • Brian Rush: Engineers for Exploration Aerial LiDAR
  • Ferrill Rushton: Maya Archaeology - Tunnel Vision
  • Purisa Jasmine Simmons: Smartfin: Increasing the Spatial Density of Oceanographic Measurements
  • Julia Sun: Big Data Analysis of Episodic Memory and Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Calvin Tam: Swing State Voting Power
  • Robert Walter: Communicating with Visual Working Memory: A Novel BCI Method Utilizing the Contralateral Delay Activity (CDA) ERP
  • Andrew Yoo: AI-driven 5G
  • Weijia Zeng: Implementation and Analysis of Multivariate Statistical Similarity Test for Scientific Applications
  • Bo Zhang, Siqi (Maggie) Huang, Songlin (Vincent) Li: TurboRent - A Customizable Housing Recommendation System
  • Mingxuan Zhang: Spectrogram Inversion with Deep Learning Approach


The mission of the Halicioglu Institute (pronounced Haw-li-jyo-loo) at UC San Diego is to build scientific foundations for the new field to help solve the world's most pressing problems. Our teams explore principles, methods and tools that enable us to understand the nature of digital data, and the interactions of this new field of enquiry to existing disciplines of human enquiry. We are committed to training and educating—at all levels—the next generation of leaders in data science.



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