Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Big data is a big deal

"Big data" is a big deal.  The US National Science Foundation has a Big Data initiative.  The US National Institutes of Health has a "Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K)" program.  The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a Big Data effort as well.  There are lots of cool examples of scientific communities that are organized around data sharing and analysis, such as the Allen Brain Atlas, the Neuroscience Information Framework,  the Worldwide Protein Data Bank, the Materials Project,  and more.  The US Government's current sites include NASA's Life Science Data Archive and the Aviation Safety Reporting System, JPL's Small Body Database Browser and Molecular Spectroscopy Catalog,  and the Department of Defense's Information Analysis Centers.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Back in the day, there was a lot of talk about multidisciplinary research.  As a human factors researcher, I am already used to being interdisciplinary - between the worlds of industrial engineering, psychology, and computer science. Now there is more talk of transdisciplinarity - such as the talk that Dan Stokols will give here at UIUC next month.  It is interesting to ponder this longitudinally -- that a topic that was once between disciplines, then becomes a discipline itself.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Of course I am interested in the new White House BRAIN initiative.  There is a White House infographic, fact sheet and blog entry.  And plenty of commentary on a variety of news sites.  Part of the basis for this is the Brain Activity Map (BAM!) project described in this paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Neuron.  Certainly, creating maps is helpful, and thusly inventing technologies to help you create the maps is important.  But it is also important to focus on human health and performance issues (e.g., PTSD, TBI, dementia, etc.) that are the reason to care about such maps.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Shout out!

I just read Professor Brian Cunningham's post over at his Nanosensors blog.  Very good advice for graduate students!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On university-industry collaboration

Tomorrow I will participate in a UIUC faculty development seminar on "Working with Companies".  I think it will be a good introduction to a lot of issues, including:

I will mention several cool examples of industry collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, including

Friday, March 22, 2013

On human-in-the-loop simulation

In addition to BIC and ITG (see previous post),  the Illinois Simulator Laboratory (ISL) is a shared research facility at Beckman.  ISL supports an array of laboratories:  virtual reality systems (Cave and Cube), driving simulator, flight simulation, and motion capture suite.   When you are doing human-systems integration research (like my previous gig at NASA Ames Research Center's Human Systems Integration Division), this kind of capability is crucial.  But of course, technology keeps changing.  Mobile computing is another genre of technology that has other harmonics related to human factors and human-systems integration.  The whole area of human-computer intelligent interaction is a very active research field.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

On biomedical imaging

Part of my job at Beckman is to provide oversight over our shared research facilities, which includes the Biomedical imaging Center and the Imaging Technology Group.  BIC has MRI, ultrasound, microPET/SPECT/CT, and diffuse optical imaging (fNIRS and EROS).  ITG's Microscopy Suite includes micro and nano CT.  I just read an IEEE Spectrum article on "omni-tomography" -- interesting!  see it here:   "Combined MRI and CT Scanner".  We are always thinking about how to advance the state of the art, and also how we can support the faculty.  Of course the faculty themselves are doing groundbreaking work in imaging -- such as Steve Boppart's work in biophotonics, Gabi Popescu's work on quantitative light imaging, Rohit Bhargava's work on chemical imaging, Zhi-Pei Liang's work in MRI, and Brad Sutton's work on MR functional imaging.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Episode 4: A new gig

I have finally reconnected with my old blog here. I had been going for a "Bridget Jones's Diary" vibe a few years ago.  Now I am at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is good to be back home in Illinois! And it is super-cool to be the Associate Director for Research at Beckman.  see more at: Beckman Institute