Collaborating Authors


Machine Learning seminar series


Amy McGovern is a Lloyd G. and Joyce Austin Presidential Professor in the School of Computer Science and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. She has been leading the development of AI/ML for weather applications for 15 years. As climate change affects weather patterns and sea levels rise, the world's need for accurate, usable predictions of weather and ocean and their impacts has never been greater. At the same time, the quantity and quality of Earth observation and modeling systems are increasing dramatically, offering a deluge of data so rich that only automated intelligent systems can fully exploit it. In this talk, I will discuss our approach to developing trustworthy AI methods for environmental science.

Courses bring field sites and labs to the small screen


> Science's COVID-19 coverage is supported by the Pulitzer Center. In a normal summer, Appledore Island, a 39-hectare outcrop 12 kilometers off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire, becomes a classroom. Students from high school to graduate level live in close quarters, eat in a communal dining hall, and work shoulder to shoulder to explore the biology of the shore and waters in 18 courses organized by the Shoals Marine Laboratory. But this summer, with the pandemic surging, students have stayed home. Instead, a skeleton staff on Appledore is streaming field trips and dissections of fish and invertebrates and setting up cameras to gather data for students. Rather than leading students around the island, coastal restoration ecologist Gregg Moore from the University of New Hampshire (UNH), Durham, hauls a backpack full of equipment: “a dual modem with two different cellular carriers, a signal-boosting directional antenna, and a large DC power source,” he says. The equipment allows him to teach 12 remote students—twice the course's usual enrollment—basic techniques of coastal ecology. Moore's is just one of hundreds of lab and field courses forced online by COVID-19—“a seismic shift for those who were not already involved in distance or online education,” says Martin Storksdieck, a science education researcher at Oregon State University, Corvallis. Some researchers worry students will miss out on certain practical and problem-solving skills and won't be able to judge whether the hands-on work of a scientist is a good fit for them. But instructors are developing high-tech ways to simulate the field and lab experiences. “I would say [these courses] are not virtual,” says Jennifer Seavey, director of the Shoals lab. “They are real.” And some advantages are emerging. By lowering geographical and financial barriers, Seavey says, “Virtual field courses are democratizing fieldwork.” The shift has taken ingenuity. “Professors must get creative and use a combination of what is available,” including online videos and free or commercially available online labs, says Mildred Pointer, a physiologist at Howard University who is working on a fall course in general biology. No single tool meets all their needs, Pointer says. As the pandemic gained momentum, emails flew among the leaders of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Many U.S. geology majors must take a “capstone” field course to graduate. The cancellation of more than three-quarters of these courses jeopardized graduation for many majors. So the association invited instructors to develop learning objectives that did not depend on students doing fieldwork. It also compiled online exercises to help the 29 field courses that have moved online this summer. Lessons range from “Orienteering in Minecraft” to “Geology of Yosemite Valley,” which includes a 43-stop Google Earth tour with photos and embedded text. Like Moore, geoscientist Jim Handschy wanted to give remote students “as close to the real experience as possible.” He runs Indiana University's Judson Mead Geologic Field Station in Montana, which had enrolled 60 students before classes were canceled in March. He and a few instructors visited each outcrop in their course plan, filmed the rocks and landscape, and captured magnified views of samples. Each week, the class delves deeper into the rock layers and their history. For their final project, students digitally map a 3100-hectare landscape. Shannon Dulin, a geologist at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, who just finished teaching a field course, sees the value of learning how to survey a landscape without setting foot on it. On their class evaluations, her students said they gained unexpected skills. “And these are skills they are going to need on the job,” she adds, as geologists are increasingly being asked to evaluate sites they don't visit. In other fields, hands-on learning takes place in labs. Typically, students work in pairs and share equipment, “so there are a lot of issues about virus transmission,” says Heather Lewandowski, a physicist at the University of Colorado (CU), Boulder. At her university this fall, lab exercises as diverse as building an electrical circuit or analyzing solar flare data will most likely be completely remote. Luckily, physics already had a foot in the virtual lab world—especially at CU. There, back in 2002, Nobel laureate Carl Wieman developed the Physics Education Technology (PhET) Interactive Simulations project to provide “games” that teach students basic physics concepts. The PhET web portal now has 106 physics-based simulations and another 50 or so for other disciplines. It became a go-to place this spring for faculty shifting to online teaching; traffic increased fivefold, says Director Katherine Perkins. In addition, several universities have adopted a handheld device called the iOLab that rents for $50 a semester. With it, students can measure magnetism, light intensity, acceleration, temperature, gravity, and atmospheric pressure, and do basic physics experiments at home. “They like that we trust them and are not just giving them instructions,” says iOLab inventor and physicist Mats Selen at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Lewandowski and her colleagues surveyed physics instructors and students about their experiences and posted their findings on arXiv, the physics preprint server, on 2 July. Respondents said online labs work best when projects are open-ended, and online class meetings are kept small. They complained about technical difficulties, students having unequal access to the internet and materials, and longer prep times for both students and instructors. But they reported they could meet most key learning objectives, Lewandowski says, even though “there are lots of things we can't replicate in remote experiments,” such as such as building vacuum chambers or troubleshooting equipment. Some institutions decided this spring that virtual just wouldn't do. The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, simply canceled its summer courses. “MBL courses are world-renowned for the intensity of the hands-on nature of the lab work,” says Director Nipam Patel. Students spend long hours with famous faculty and do their own projects using organisms collected locally. “We felt that it would be exceedingly difficult to replicate these experiences as a virtual lab course.” Other institutions will try for a mix of in-person and virtual labs. Suely Black, chemistry chair at Norfolk State University, expects only half of his students will be in lab each week this fall, while the other half will be in online classes analyzing data and writing reports. “The crisis has caused us to more critically evaluate what activities students must experience in the lab setting,” he says. Similarly, this fall, organic chemistry students at the University of Michigan (UM), Ann Arbor, will rotate into the lab in small groups, giving each a taste of the hands-on experience. Personal protection equipment is standard for this course and all the work is done in hoods with excellent air exchange, so “they are really fully protected,” says UM biochemist Kathleen Nolta. Storksdieck, an advocate of online learning, questions the value of smelling fumes or using a pipette. “We have to ask whether all the hands-on taught so far was all that great,” he says. Dominique Durand, a biomedical engineer at Case Western Reserve University, says after he put a master's program in biomedical engineering completely online 5 years ago, he concluded that solving problems was more important than hands-on experience. And University of California, Santa Cruz, ecologist Erika Zavaleta thinks virtual courses will open fieldwork to far more students. “There are things you can do online that you can't do in person,” she adds, such as visiting more places than possible by driving. Even so, Handschy laments that his geology students will not have the 12-hour-a-day immersive interactions with each other and faculty that past classes have had. Natalie White, a rising junior at UNH who took Moore's course on Appledore last year, agrees: “You don't have all the time in between when you walk around the island and can ask impromptu questions.” Appledore Island is the source of some her fondest memories. “I think they are missing out on the community.”

CIOs Reprioritize Tech Spending in Era of Lockdowns and Reopenings WSJD - Technology

The move allows personal and commercial borrowers to complete the entire loan-application process without entering a bank, something they could not do before the pandemic, he said. Last year, the bank launched an ambitious project to install an SAP-developed banking platform as the core of its expanding digital services, including the use of advanced artificial-intelligence tools. "We were in the middle of that when the pandemic struck," Mr. Taylor said, "and we had to reprioritize." New coronavirus cases in Oklahoma have risen 26% over the past week. The state has so far recorded 4,675 cases, including its governor, and 428 deaths.

Viewpoint: What Donald Trump gets wrong about Somalia

BBC News

In our series of letters from African journalists, Ismail Einashe considers how Somalia has become caught up in the US election campaign. President Donald Trump is making Somali-American congresswoman Ilhan Omar one of the bogeywomen of his campaign for re-election to the White House in November - and by proxy her country of birth Somalia. In his most recent attack, at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he tore into the 37-year-old alleging that she wanted to bring the "anarchy" of Somalia to the US. "She would like to make the government of our country just like the country from where she came - Somalia. And now, she's telling us how to run our country. Ms Omar, who arrived in the US as a child refugee in 1995, is the congressional representative for Minnesota, which includes the city of Minneapolis where African-American George Floyd was killed by police in May, reigniting Black Lives Matter protests. But it was Ms Omar's Somali heritage the president chose to focus on in Tulsa, perhaps to distract from all the turmoil and unrest closer to home. In response Ms Omar said his remarks were "racist". She added that his anger came out of a recent poll that had shown him trailing his rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, in her state, which is home to a large Somali-American community. The president described Ms Omar as a "hate-filled, American-bashing socialist", warning she would have a role in shaping the country if Mr Biden were to win. This is despite the fact that the pair are on the opposite ends of the Democratic Party - Ms Omar had been a prominent supporter of Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic ticket. But such rhetoric plays well to his base, so the electoral stage has been set, the cast chosen - and Ms Omar and Somalia have starring roles. In fact they both debuted last year at Mr Trump's rally in North Carolina where the crowd chanted about Ms Omar: "Send her back!

Memory-oriented Decoder for Light Field Salient Object Detection

Neural Information Processing Systems

Light field data have been demonstrated in favor of many tasks in computer vision, but existing works about light field saliency detection still rely on hand-crafted features. In this paper, we present a deep-learning-based method where a novel memory-oriented decoder is tailored for light field saliency detection. Our goal is to deeply explore and comprehensively exploit internal correlation of focal slices for accurate prediction by designing feature fusion and integration mechanisms. The success of our method is demonstrated by achieving the state of the art on three datasets. We present this problem in a way that is accessible to members of the community and provide a large-scale light field dataset that facilitates comparisons across algorithms.

AVIO Consulting Appoints New VP Of Sales And Marketing


Prior to AVIO Consulting, Slack was the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Clevyr, who builds software solutions. Before that, he was the Director of Business Development for Hoegg Software. Slack's passion for tech also inspired him to co-create StarSpace46, a coworking space in Oklahoma City serving tech startups. AVIO has recently been recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies by the Inc. 5000 List, Consulting Magazine, and the SMU Cox Dallas 100, among others. Slack's hire was a result of AVIO's desire to keep building momentum for the firm's healthy growth with a clear and strategic vision.

Bots in the Library? Colleges Try AI to Help Researchers (But With Caution) - EdSurge News


The newest librarian at the University of Oklahoma is a robot. It's a chatbot, which library officials plan to add to the library's website this summer to answer some of the most common questions students come in with, as well as to help them get started with their research. The system can tackle things like "where can I print?" or "what databases do you have about biology?" Anything it can't answer gets sent to a human librarian. The bot is just one example of how college libraries and technologists are experimenting with artificial intelligence to support students and professors in their research. Algorithms may soon help them prepare their literature reviews by quickly finding the most important papers in an area, and help match researchers with peers in other disciplines doing similar work to form new collaborations.

How does Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health's CIO boost innovation? By making it personal: With more than 40 years of experience in the healthcare IT space, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System CIO Avery Cloud has seen the value technology brings to healthcare.


With more than 40 years of experience in the healthcare IT space, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System CIO Avery Cloud has seen the value technology brings to healthcare. Some of Mr. Cloud's most memorable moments as CIO at the Baton Rouge, La.-based health system revolve around technology's effect on physicians and patients, ranging from instances when it helped prevent a clinical error to reducing patient anxiety. Prior to joining Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, Mr. Cloud served as vice president of innovation and technology at CHI St. Luke's Health in Houston as well as CIO at Wilmington, N.C.-based New Hanover Regional Medical Center and Integris Health in Oklahoma City. Here, Mr. Cloud shares his strategy to build and encourage innovation among staff members. Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Chatbots: could they replace human agents for business travel?


In the year that Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey turns 50, you could be forgiven for asking where is the space-age future we were promised? Many still choose to travel to meetings in favour of using videophones and we don't have a permanent colony on the Moon, let alone Jupiter. Teleconferencing technology is improving though as just a few weeks ago Canadian researchers unveiled the TeleHuman 2, a 3D holographic projection system that smacks of the Star Trek holodeck. The system is based on a ring of intelligent projectors mounted above and around a reflective, human-sized cylindrical pod. The display projects a light field composed of many images, one for every degree of angle, so users need not wear a headset or 3D glasses to see each other.

MIT.nano awards inaugural NCSOFT seed grants for gaming technologies


MIT.nano has announced the first recipients of NCSOFT seed grants to foster hardware and software innovations in gaming technology. The grants are part of the new MIT.nano Immersion Lab Gaming program, with inaugural funding provided by video game developer NCSOFT, a founding member of the MIT.nano The newly awarded projects address topics such as 3-D/4-D data interaction and analysis, behavioral learning, fabrication of sensors, light field manipulation, and micro-display optics. "New technologies and new paradigms of gaming will change the way researchers conduct their work by enabling immersive visualization and multi-dimensional interaction," says MIT.nano Associate Director Brian W. Anthony.