Computer Science, Bioinformatics Faculty Lead Summer Program for K-12 Students

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Three Stony Brook faculty members led a four-week computer science and informatics summer program for high school students. Fusheng Wang, Departments of Computer Science (CS) and Biomedical Informatics BMI), Daifeng Wang (BMI) and Xiaojun Bi (CS) joined forces for the inaugural program, Computer Science and Informatics Research Experience (CSIRE) for K-12 students, held from July 5 through August 4.

Their motivation for the program was to provide an opportunity for K-12 outreach in the fields of computer science and informatics with a particular emphasis on research opportunities for students.

Originally the program was outlined in Fusheng Wang’s National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award, which he developed while at Emory University. When he became a faculty member at Stony Brook, he decided to create a new program involving multiple faculty, giving students the advantage of multiple perspectives and setting the stage for Xiaojun Bi and Daifeng Wang to develop their own community outreach plans.

Seventeen high school students applied for the program and nine were chosen to participate, but they expect these numbers to rise in the coming years. In addition, two Simons Research high school students participated and one undergraduate from Stony Brook’s NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates grant participated in the program.

Students came from New Jersey, Virginia and the following Long Island schools: Bay Shore High School, Commack High School, Murphy Jr. High, Paul J Gelinas Junior High, Shoreham Wading River High School and Smithtown High School.

Once on campus, the students worked on research projects, visited labs, presented their research findings, and participated in campus socials and sports. Faculty provided ideas on research projects and then participants worked with faculty and six graduate students from CS and BMI who supervised each student project. They covered a range of topics including gene expression biomarkers in lung cancer, traffic accidents and opioid poisoning, obesity, visualization, feature extraction and analysis of cell images, and brain tumor analytics with Deep Learning. A few students will continue their projects after the summer program ends.

The students were particularly amazed by the technologies available on campus, especially the Reality Deck and Immersive CAVE located at the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology. Students also attended a college admission sharing session.

The highlight for many was seeing the students present their research and their transformation into professional researchers.

This program succeeded with the support of many other faculty and administrators, especially Karen Kernan and Keith Shepperd from i-STEM; Heather Paquette, Ann Gardner and Yi Gao from BMI; Arie Kaufman and Niranjan Balasubramanian from CS; and Fan Ye from Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The Departments of Computer Science and Biomedical Informatics are part of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Stony Brook University. CSIRE is another great example of the summer programs hosted at Stony Brook University that integrate fun with a true research experience.

Christine Cesaria, Computer Science

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