CS and BMI Team on K-12 Summer Experience


What did you do this summer? For three Stony Brook faculty members this question is easy to answer. They were the leaders of a four week computer science and informatics summer program for high school students.

Faculty from the Departments of Computer Science (CS) and Biomedical Informatics (BMI) Fusheng Wang (CS and 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 – Aug 4, 2017.

According to F. Wang, 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 F. Wang’s National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award which he developed while at Emory University. Eventually, when Wang became a faculty member at Stony Brook University, he decided to create a new program involving multiple faculty. This not only benefits the students in the program who will have the advantage of multiple perspectives, it also sets the stage for Bi and D. Wang to develop their own community outreach plans.

Seventeen high school applicants vied for a spot in the program by submitting an application by May 31, 2017. Program leadership selected only nine students 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. Applicants were evaluated based on the following criteria: 1. Is the student motivated for a career in computer science or informatics? 2. Does the student have a strong educational background (GPA in math and science)? 3. Does the student have programming experience? 4. Does the student have transportation to/from Stony Brook University?

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

Once on campus, the students work on research projects, visit labs, present their research findings, participate in campus socials, and sports. Faculty provided ideas to the students on research projects and then participants worked with faculty, and six graduate and PhD students from CS and BMI who supervised each student project. These projects 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 (CEWIT). Students also attended a college admission sharing session ​given by an REU student from Columbia University.

The highlight for many, including F. Wang, was when students presented their research and truly had transformed into professional researchers right before their eyes.

This successful program could not have achieved the level of education or foster the camaraderie that it did without the support of many other faculty and administrators. A special “shout out” to Karen Kernan, Keith Shepperd from i-STEM; Heather Paquette and Ann Gardner from BMI; Arie Kaufman and Niranjan Balasubramanian from CS, Yi Gao from BMI, 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 a summer of fun with a true research experience.