Volunteer Opportunity – Provide tech help at Clark Lindsey Retirement Village

Are you interested in putting your computer and technical skills to good use? Do you like working with a variety of people?

If so, then you should think about becoming one of the U of I Tech Volunteers at Clark-Lindsey Village (a retirement community located just south of campus at Windsor and Race). Rides are provided to volunteers.

The U of I Tech Help at CLV Project started as a service-learning opportunity 10 years ago.  Students spend an hour on Friday afternoons (from 3-4 pm) in the CLV library helping residents with basic tech-related issues ranging from document formatting and setting up email on mobile devices to troubleshooting printers and using FaceTime, and everything else in between!

Open to everyone

Use your skills to make a positive impact in someone else’s life! Bring a friend!!  Help spread the word! This project is open to anyone on campus — not just Informatics students.

If you are interested in this project, please send your name and contact information to Karin Readel, the Informatics Education Coordinator, at kereadel@illinois.edu.

FA 2016 Informatics Undergraduate Research Assistants Named

Each year the Illinois Informatics Institute sponsors an undergraduate research assistant competition.

INFO PhD students and Faculty Affiliates are invited to be research mentors and are asked to provide a brief description of the project(s) they have available.  All INFO minors are encouraged to apply for these positions, which provide a stipend of $12.50/hour for 8-10 hours/week during the fall semester (with the option to continue through the spring semester provided that the student makes satisfactory progress).

 This year Informatics has selected a total of 11 students to work with 10 mentors on a variety of projects from across campus:

  • Adam Rogers (senior in IS/IT) will be working with Dr. Michael Twidale (iSchool) on a project looking at how people learn new technologies
  • Ali Alagha (senior in HPA) will be working with Dr. Ian Brooks (iSchool) on the “INDICATOR: Monitoring the Health of a Community” project
  • Jacob Bentley (senior in ECON/POLI) will be working at the Cline Center for Democracy on a project using text analytics to understand peace, conflict and social change
  • Aishwarya Raj (sophomore in BIOC) will be working with Dr. Liudmila Mainzer (IGB/NCSA) constructing and comparing gene,metabolic and signaling networks for organisms across the tree of life
  • Ehsan Khan (senior in GEOG/GIS) will be working with Dr. Marilyn O’Hara Ruiz (VetMed) on Mapping the Legacy of Arsenic
  • Yixin Zou (senior in ADV) will be working with Aseel Addawood (INFO PhD student) on factors influencing attitude formation for controversial topics
  • Nur Amalina Abdul Razak (junior in Actuarial Science) and Andrew Marturano (senior in PSYC) will be working with Hsiao Ying Huang (INFO PhD student) examining the usability of mobile applications in mental health interventions
  • Toral Shastri (senior in MCB) will be working with Dr. Les Gasser (iSchool) on an NCSA project titled “Simulating Social Systems at Scale”
  • Grant Schumock (junior in NPRE) will be working with Dr. Zahra Mohaghegh (NPRE) in the Socio-Technical Risk Analysis lab
  • Christine Chan (senior in IB)  will be working with Dr. Amy Marshall-Colon (PLBIO) using public datasets to identify signaling crosstalk networks in plants

Informatics PhD Students Design Interactive System for Learning Tai Chi for EPSY/ INFO 590 Course

Kyungho Lee and Yishuo Liu, both Informatics PhD Students, presented their educational interactive system for learning Tai Chi at the EPSY/ INFO 590 Open House and Demo Day, on May 6, 2015 in the IDEALL Lab. Their interactive system is based on user engagement theory, the use of full body interaction technology, and the metaphorical visualization to realize it.  The user can see the model gestures represented by the abstract skeleton visualization so that they can focus on the movement itself. The system provides an automatic evaluation process and gives instant feedback by using audio components, as well as visual elements (e.g. flocking visualization).  Kyungho and Yishuo believe that their system has great potential for enhancing physical training, due to the ability to record a motion once and then replay and practice that motion unlimited times. EPSY/ INFO 590: Engaging and Interactive Educational Technologies, taught by Dr. H. Chad Lane in Spring 2015, focused on recent advances using advanced technologies to promote and sustain learning, both in formal and informal settings. This class will be taught again in Fall 2015, and is open to graduate students from any discipline who are interested in the topic.

ARTS 499: Makerspace – NEW Informatics/ ArtEd Course for Fall 2014

Informatics and Art Education are collaborating on a new course this fall to be taught out of the CU Community Fab Lab on campus!  The course is offered in the 8 week format, both in the 1st and 2nd half of the semester.

Students who register for the course will:
  • Develop understanding of principles and processes behind prototyping
  • Hack together and implement tools, ideas and proposals for workshops
  • Critique, test and report on real-world examples of makerspace curriculum
  • Practice multiple styles of expressions for different real-world contexts
  • Gain familiarity with open source and proprietary software
  • Learn about digital literacy, community-based art education, informatics and the design of makerspaces from an interdisciplinary perspective
There are still plenty of open seats! Registration information, including days/ time of class meetings can be viewed here.  There are no pre-requisites, and this course counts as one of the upper level electives in the Informatics minor.  Check out the course materials here!    

Fab Lab in the News: A Paradise for Young Inventors

Julie Wurth, staff writer with The Champaign News-Gazette, recently published a blog post titled “A Paradise for Young Inventors“, covering the summer camps sponsored by the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab.  The Fab Lab is running camps and workshops throughout the summer for children (pre-teens and teens) on a variety of topics including robotics, game-driven 3D modeling,  and wearable electronics.  Click here to read Julie’s full blog post.

HathiTrust Research Center Awarded Grant from National Endowment for the Humanities

The HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC) is pleased to announce an exciting new project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The NEH awarded $324,841 for “Exploring the Billions and Billions of Words in the HathiTrust Corpus with Bookworm: HathiTrust + Bookworm” (HT+BW) a two-year project that begins September 1, 2014 and will conclude August 31, 2016. This project will be directed by J. Stephen Downie (Co-Director of the HTRC and Professor and Associate Dean of Research at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) in collaboration with internal partners from the Illinois Informatics Institute (I3) and the University Library and external partners from Indiana University, Northeastern University, and the Baylor College of Medicine. For this project, the HTRC is partnering with the Cultural Observatory team that developed the Google Books Ngram Viewer together with Google.  The goal of this collaboration is to implement a greatly enhanced open-source version of the Cultural Observatory’s “Bookworm”, a faceted text analysis and visualization tool used to track trends in the use of words and phrases over time.  The HT+BW tool will assist scholars and their students in navigating the massive HT corpus by providing more powerful visualizations that incorporate multi-faceted “slicing and dicing” of the underlying data through an enhanced set of content-based and metadata-based features. “The HathiTrust + Bookworm project will greatly enhance the value of HTRC for scholars,” said Downie, “by improving discovery, analysis, and exploration of their own research worksets as well as the entire HathiTrust corpus.  The project itself reflects the quality of our collaborations both within Illinois and beyond, and I am especially impressed by the initiative taken by our GSLIS PhD student, Peter Organisciak,  and our I3 colleague, Loretta Auvil, in working across departments and across institutions to bring this proposal to fruition.” The HTRC is the official research arm of the HathiTrust, a repository that centrally collects image and text representations of library holdings digitized by the Google Books project and other mass-digitization efforts.  Its mission is to contribute to the common good by collection, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge.

Arshan Nasir Awarded Dissertation Completion Fellowship

Arshan Nasir, an Informatics PhD Student, is one of 29 students selected to receive the 2014-2015 Dissertation Completion Fellowship through the Graduate College.  Arshan passed his preliminary exams in January 2014, and spent the Spring 2014 semester conducting research at the Universitié Paris-Sud, Institute Génétique et Microbiolgie as a recipient of the Chateaubriand Fellowship.  He recently published a new article based on this work titled “The distribution and impact of viral lineages in domains of life” in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.  This summer he will also be working as a Research Team Leader in the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) through the Graduate College.  

New App Warns Users of Potential Hazards

David Tcheng, co-founder of the start-up One Llama, was recently interviewed by MIT Online Review  regarding the development of  smartphone technology to alert people of audible threats.  The new app is called Audio Aware and it alerts users wearing headphones to potential hazards  that they might otherwise not hear.  In his interview, Tcheng explains:
“It will work by listening through your smartphone’s microphone … constantly comparing what it hears to stored templates of alert sounds it needs to recognize. When a sufficient match, such as a car horn, is detected, it will cancel any audio you’re hearing and pipe in an amplified version of the sound it’s picking up, or perhaps a cartoon-like version of that sound that is easier to recognize.”
David is a research scientist in the Illinois Informatics Institute, and a graduate student in the Informatics PhD program.  To read more about Audio Aware see the linked MIT Review article, or one of the following: