Siemens Regional Semifinalist Mentored by CS Faculty and PhD Candidate

This semester, Kiwon Yun, a PhD candidate in Computer Science at Stony Brook University, had the opportunity to mentor Gary Ge, a Regional Semifinalist in the 2014 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. Advised by Dimitris Samaras, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University, Yun worked with Ge, a current senior at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket.

Selected from 4,428 students and 1,784 projects, Ge’s selection as a Siemens semifinalist is an outstanding achievement. The formal title of their winning project is, Action Recognition in Still Images Using Human Gaze; which studied the eye movements humans make while viewing images and how they can be harnessed for automatic image tagging.

Ge said that when he began working on the project, the work was still fairly new to him. “To be honest, I was pretty nervous the first few weeks I came into the lab. However, once I settled into a routine, it turned into something I looked forward to, and I spent a lot of time both in lab and at home working on the project,” Ge said. “Kiwon was very helpful in explaining many of the machine learning techniques.”

Yun, whose interests include solving real-world problems related to computer vision, machine learning and human perception, said, “It’s sometimes a bit hard to teach everything from scratch, such as teaching how to program in Matlab, basic mathematics, etc. However, it was not too difficult since Ge is very smart, and a fast learner.”

Yun said that he saw much growth in Ge’s understanding of computer science, “It was exciting to see where he was when we started to work, and how much he learned after the project.”

In addition to mentoring Ge this past semester, Yun is a Research Assistant at the Image Analysis Lab and the Eye Cog Lab at Stony Brook. Both Ge and Yun are eager to submit more projects for research competitions. “I hope my student regularly comes to the lab and that we collaborate together on actual academic papers even after the competition,” Yun said.  Ge agreed: “Yun and I are looking to submit the project to a few conferences, and there are several other high school research competitions I intend to submit to as well.”

As for his future as a computer scientist, Ge said, “I'm still working on the project since there are a lot of directions that can be taken, so I hope I can improve on what we have done to date. In the slightly more distant future I hope to continue this research in college.”