UNC CS researchers earn Best Paper award at IEEE VR 2017

April 10, 2017
dunn_ieee_vr
David Dunn receives the IEEE VR 2017 Best Paper award on behalf of his co-authors from UNC-Chapel Hill, the Max-Planck Institute for Informatics and Nvidia

A paper co-authored by graduate students David Dunn, Kent Torell and Cary Tippets and professor Henry Fuchs received the Best Paper award at IEEE VR 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

The paper, titled “Wide Field Of View Varifocal Near-Eye Display using See-through Deformable Membrane Mirrors,” was a collaboration between researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill, the Max-Planck Institute for Informatics and Nvidia. It was authored by David Dunn, Cary Tippets, Kent Torell, Petr Kellnhofer, Kaan Aksit, Piotr Didyk, Karol Myszkowski , David Luebke and Henry Fuchs.

The award-winning paper describes an augmented reality display capable of overcoming challenges related to depth cues, field of view or resolution that plague displays which are optimized to solve a single problem. The display presented in the paper utilizes a single see-through, varifocal, deformable membrane mirror for each eye. The two flexible panes are maneuvered by the display so that objects projected toward the wearer’s eyes can be skewed to appear closer to or further from the wearer. Because the mirror panes are so flexible, projected objects can be quickly moved to different depths. Projecting onto large, see-through panes allows for a wide, unobstructed field of view.

For more information about the paper or the augmented reality display, visit the UNC Telepresence group’s website.

Welch one of seven selected for 2017 Horizon Awards

April 5, 2017

Joshua WelchGraduate student Joshua Welch received a 2017 Horizon Award from the Graduate School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Welch was one of seven recipients for 2017.

Since 2003, the Graduate Education Advancement Board (GEAB) has provided Impact Awards annually to recognize graduate students and recent graduate alumni whose discoveries directly impact the state of North Carolina in the present time.  Recipients receive a one-time monetary award, which varies in value from year to year. Recipients earned $500 in 2016.

The Horizon Award, created this year, recognizes those whose research “holds extremely high potential for making a significant contribution to the educational, economic, physical, social or cultural well-being of North Carolina citizens and beyond at some future time.” The award focuses on research of a more theoretical or basic nature that is likely to one day solve major problems in the state and beyond.

Welch’s award-winning research analyzes ‘snapshots’ of cells to improve heart disease treatment. The laboratory of assistant professor Li Qian in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine has managed to convert heart scar tissue cells back into heart muscle cells. Unfortunately, researchers need more information about the circumstances that lead to successful reprogramming of heart cells in order to improve the effectiveness of the treatment.

To support this effort, Welch developed SLICER, a computational approach that analyzes momentary data collected from cells throughout processes like cardiac reprogramming. SLICER orders genetic changes to allow the process to be viewed by researchers in the correct sequence. Paired with experimental data from Qian’s research group, SLICER identified thousands of genes that turn on and off during cardiac reprogramming, including genes that may hinder cells from responding to the treatment.

Welch is advised by professor Jan Prins of the Department of Computer Science.

CS major Scott Emmons one of two UNC students to receive Goldwater Scholarships

March 31, 2017

Two UNC-Chapel Hill students earn Goldwater Scholarships

(Chapel Hill, N.C. –  March 31, 2017) – The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program named University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill second-year student Scott Emmons and third-year student Sarah Miller as 2017 Goldwater Scholars.

This prestigious scholarship provides up to $7,500 per year for eligible educational expenses to students who excel in academics and who plan to pursue research careers in science, mathematics, engineering and computer disciplines.

“My congratulations go to Scott and Sarah on their recognition from the prestigious Goldwater Foundation,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “They are prefect examples of the next generation of innovative researchers and problem solvers who will make an impact on a global scale. The diversity of their research — in areas ranging from visualization of microbiome data to non-coding RNA in embryonic stem cells — sets them apart as pioneers who will help create scientific breakthroughs.”

For 2017, the foundation selected 240 scholarship recipients. Emmons, Gray, and Miller were chosen from a field of 1,286 students who were nominated by 470 colleges and universities nationwide.

“We are thrilled that these three exceptional students have been selected by the Goldwater Foundation,” said Inger Brodey, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “Their exceptional academic qualifications and substantial practical research experiences exemplify the type of groundbreaking leadership we seek to nurture at Carolina.”

Emmons, 20, is a sophomore from Bloomington, Ind., majoring in computer science and mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is a Robertson Scholar and an Honors Carolina student.

At Carolina, Emmons has done research in visualization of microbiome data, and is now researching in the mathematics department on network theory. He spent last summer teaching middle school math in the Mississippi delta.

While still in high school, Scott Emmons co-founded Sparq Creative Solutions, LLC to help small business owners organize their resources and target them efficiently. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Computer Science and conduct research in network sciences and teach at the university level.

Miller, 20, is a junior from Wilmington, majoring in chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences with a business administration minor in the Kenan-Flagler Business School.

She has been doing research on a non-coding RNA that regulates the transition to a differentiated (non-stem cell) fate in embryonic stem cells. She expects to be able to publish this work in the coming year.

Miller plans to pursue a M.D. and a Ph.D. in epigenetics and hopes to conduct research regarding long non-coding RNA. Her goal is to be principal investigator in a laboratory at a research university’s school of medicine, investigating epigenetic influences of certain RNA as they relate to human health.

Joshua Gray, a third-year student from Raleigh, was awarded an Honorable Mention.

Congress established the Goldwater scholarship program in 1986 to honor the late Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona who served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. The first awards were given in 1989.

Click here for more information about the Office of Distinguished Scholarships.

-Carolina-

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 110 master’s, 64 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s 317,000-plus alumni live in all 50 states and 156 other countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

UNC computer science major starts week to acknowledge women in technology

March 30, 2017

Frustrated by male-dominated tech culture, junior computer science major Kaylee Llewellyn started Women in Tech Week, which is hosting events on campus through Friday.

She said she wants to raise awareness that women are underrepresented in many tech industries and show how people at UNC can make a difference.

“I think the biggest goal would just be to start a conversation and hopefully people that felt like they didn’t really have an idea of what they could do to change this gender gap walk away from this week with some concrete examples of things that they can do to be more supportive of women in tech in general,” Llewellyn said.

Gina Rozier, external relations manager of the Department of Computer Science, helped Llewellyn start the week.

“When Kaylee came up the idea, I think she had originally figured we would do a day … ” Rozier said. “And when she said she wanted it to be big — and she did, she said she wanted it to be big — so then we needed it to be an amount of time … so we thought, ‘Why don’t we make multiple events throuought the week.”

Rozier said they advertised for the week mainly through social media and through fliers. She said they garnered a lot of student participation.

Second-year graduate student in the Department of Computer Science, Tanya Amert, said she’s always loved to play with computers.

“I really like visual things, so being able to describe, say, an image or scene really simply and visualize that, or even simplify daily tasks, like math homework or keeping track of what I wanna do today — any of that I do with technology,” Amert said.

She said she thinks women in the tech industry face hurdles and is glad there is an opportunity to have a conversation about the issue.

Computer science professor Mike Reiter, who helped organize the Women in Tech Week, said the lack of women in the field is important to address.

“I think it hurts the field a lot and I think obviously, you know, there are a lot of job opportunities in this field so I think it’s important that women have these opportunities as well,” he said. “So I think the Women in Tech Week is one of many ways we can try to bring attention to this issue.”

Reiter said it is a win-win to hold events like Women in Tech Week, because it benefits women and the field in general.

Computer science professor Diane Pozefsky said one thing that can help increase women representation in the field is to encourage women to consider technology in the first place.

“We have a lot of different efforts, one of them is introducing them to computers and technologies through different paths … if you get people excited about what they can do, before they start working on what they do, if you can show them they can do things to help other people or they can make a difference in certain areas, whether it be the humanities or things like that, we’ll get them coming in from a whole lot of different areas,” she said.

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Llewellyn honored with University Award for the Advancement of Women

March 30, 2017
Kaylee Llewellyn
Kaylee Llewellyn

Junior computer science major Kaylee Llewellyn was recognized on March 7 with the University Award for the Advancement of Women. Llewellyn was one of four recipients for 2017 who were honored during a ceremony in the Campus Y at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Llewellyn was selected by the university for her efforts to fight to gender imbalance in computer science and technology. According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), only 22 percent of those who took AP computer science tests in 2015 were female. While retention over time is an issue, Llewellyn believes the biggest challenge is recruiting women into computer science in the first place.

Mike Reiter and Kaylee LLewellyn
Llewellyn (right) with Michael Reiter, who nominated her for the award

As an undergraduate student, Llewellyn founded and manages the UNC Girls Who Code club, which is affiliated with the national non-profit organization Girls Who Code. The club began in Fall 2016 with weekly meetings where interested middle- and high-school students could meet with mentors from the undergraduate and graduate computer science programs at UNC. Llewellyn organized all club meetings, including scheduling outside speakers and adjusting curriculum to fit the interests of attendees.

After the first semester, the club’s popularity necessitated an expansion from one weekly meeting to three as registration tripled.

Michael Reiter, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and the club’s faculty adviser, said he was most impressed with Llewellyn’s ability to handle the club’s rapid growth.

“I don’t know how, but Kaylee has made it look easy,” Reiter said.

In addition to her work with UNC Girls Who Code, Llewellyn served as an organizer of Pearl Hacks, one of the country’s largest annual all-female hackathons. She also helped plan the UNC CS Women in Tech Week, which was held from March 27 to March 31 by the Department of Computer Science and involved a film screening of “She Started It,” a panel discussion and other initiatives to grow support for women in technology.

“Kaylee and I speak often about her seemingly endless list of ideas to promote women in technology, and the status of her plans to pursue them,” said Reiter.

“I honestly don’t know of another student or faculty member on campus who is doing as much to promote the engagement of women in technology.”

As a recipient of the prize, Llewellyn receives a $2,500 monetary award.

Mehra receives 2016 VGTC Virtual Reality Best Dissertation Award

March 29, 2017

Ravish Mehra (Ph.D. 2014)Ravish Mehra, a 2014 doctoral graduate in computer science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was awarded the 2016 VGTC Virtual Reality Best Dissertation Award for his work developing simulated sound propagation algorithms.

The IEEE VGTC Virtual Reality Best Dissertation Award was established in 2016 to recognize the best doctoral dissertation in the field of virtual reality defended within the preceding two calendar years. Mehra’s dissertation was selected from a pool of 16 nominations.

Mehra’s dissertation, titled “Efficient Techniques for Wave-Based Sound Propagation in Interactive Applications,” proposed new methods for simulated propagation of sound in virtual reality environments in order to improve realism of sound and enhance the immersion of users within the environment.

More information about Mehra’s doctoral research at UNC, including audio and video samples and full publications, can be found at cs.unc.edu/~ravishm.

Mehra’s dissertation was advised by professors Ming Lin and Dinesh Manocha. Mehra now works as a research scientist for Oculus VR in Seattle, WA, and his sound propagation and spatial audio research has already been integrated into virtual gaming systems.

UNC-Chapel Hill Hosts Women in Tech Week

March 28, 2017

Posted by | Mar 28, 2017 |

Several events to promote women who opt for careers in the technology industry will be held at UNC-Chapel Hill as part of the Department of Computer Science’s Women in Tech Week.

The five-day promotion was conceived by Kaylee Llewellyn, a junior majoring in computer science who won the University Award for the Advancement of Women earlier this month.

According to Llewellyn, the purpose of the week is to “start a conversation about ways to support women in tech and make the tech environment at UNC a more open and accepting community.”

Functions planned for the week include a a research demo session sponsored by the Graduate Women in Computer Science Group and a screening of an award-winning documentary.

With events like these, Llewellyn noted that “the goal is to have students, faculty and staff end the week excited about the important contributions women in tech are making.”

Women in Tech Week is currently underway and will continue through this Friday, with a schedule of the proceedings available on the website for the Department of Computer Science.

12 CS majors, 4 CS minors inducted into Phi Beta Kappa for 2017

March 28, 2017

150 at UNC-Chapel Hill inducted into Phi Beta Kappa

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – March 28, 2017) – Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most honored college honorary society, has inducted 150 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students as new members.

 

The recent induction ceremony featured remarks by Chancellor Carol L. Folt and a keynote address by Carol A. Hee, clinical associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship. New members received certificates and Phi Beta Kappa keys, the organization’s symbol.

 

Phi Beta Kappa membership is open to undergraduates in the college and professional degree programs who meet stringent eligibility requirements.

 

A student who has completed 75 hours of course work in the liberal arts and sciences with a GPA of 3.85 or better (on a 4-point scale) is eligible for membership. Also eligible is any student who has completed 105 hours of course work in the liberal arts and sciences with a 3.75 GPA. Grades earned at other universities are not considered. Less than 1 percent of all college students qualify.

 

Past and present Phi Beta Kappa members from across the country have included 17 American presidents and numerous artistic, intellectual and political leaders. Seven of the current U.S. Supreme Court Justices are members.

 

Phi Beta Kappa has 286 chapters nationwide. UNC’s chapter, Alpha of North Carolina, was founded in 1904 and is the oldest of seven chapters in the state. Each year, Phi Beta Kappa chapters and alumni associations across the country raise and distribute more than $1 million in awards, scholarships and prizes benefiting high schools and college students.

 

Phi Beta Kappa officers at Carolina for 2016-2017 are students Aaron Homburger, president; Kylie Nowicki, vice president; and Guilia Curcelli, recording secretary. James L. Leloudis, professor of history, associate dean for Honors Carolina and director of the James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence, is chapter executive secretary and faculty advisor.

 

Listed below are 149 inductees, 93 of whom are from North Carolina. The names appear below in alphabetical order by North Carolina county, then by state and country. All study in the College of Arts and Sciences except where otherwise noted. One student chose not to be listed.

 

Alamance County

  • Andrew Carden, a senior with an exercise and sport science major, son of Eric Carden and Dana Carden of Burlington.

 

Brunswick County

  • Amber Nicole Fulford, a junior with biology and anthropology majors and a chemistry minor, daughter of Adam Fulford Sr. and Crystal Fulford of Supply.

 

Buncombe County

  • Catherine McCann Blalock, a senior with a political science major and a public policy minor, daughter of Richard Blalock and Jennifer McCann of Asheville.
  • Michael William Thomas, a senior with a history major, son of Michael Thomas and Cathy Thomas of Asheville
  • Evelyn Scott Yarborough, a senior with peace, war, and defense and English majors and a history minor, daughter of William Yarborough, III of Greenville, South Carolina and Denise Yarborough of Asheville.

 

Cabarrus County

  • Alexander Warren Griffin, a senior with a classical archaeology major and a history minor, son of Dr. Keith Griffin and Stacey Griffin of Concord.
  • Robert Thomas Short III, a senior with a psychology major and a chemistry minor, son of Robert Short, Jr. and Linda Short of Concord.
  • Elizabeth Marie Thompson, a senior with an exercise and sport science major, of Harrisburg.

 

Chatham County

  • Philip Bray Straughn, a senior with a chemistry major and a computer science minor, son of Charles Straughn and Linda Straughn of Chapel Hill.

 

Craven County

  • Jacob Fisher, a senior with a computer science major, of New Bern.

 

Cumberland County

  • Srihita Bongu, a senior with economics and chemistry majors, daughter of Ram Mohan Bongu and Deepika Bongu of Fayetteville.
  • Brian Michael Fields, a junior with a political science major and urban and regional planning and history minors, son of Michael Fields and Becky Fields of Fayetteville.
  • Gillian Elizabeth Manning, a senior with an art history major and a Latin minor, daughter of MD Kenneth Manning and Brynn Manning of Fayetteville.

 

Dare County

  • Kathrin Morgan Hennigan, a junior with a psychology major and a neuroscience minor, of Kitty Hawk.

 

Durham County

  • Emma Marina Bogerd, a junior with biology and environmental sciences majors and a chemistry minor, of Durham.
  • Eliza McClellan Pentecost Farren, a senior with a global studies major and a Chinese minor, daughter of David Farren of Chicago, Illinois and Martha Pentecost Jr. of Durham.
  • Andrew Charles Kelly, a junior with a computer science major and astronomy and mathematics minors, son of Charles Kelly and Barbara Kelly of Durham.

 

Forsyth County

  • Katherine Butler Elliott, a senior with a business administration major and a coaching education minor, daughter of Dr. J. Grady Elliott Jr. and Kristine Elliott of Winston-Salem.
  • Lily Jewel Jones, a junior with a nutrition major and Chinese and chemistry minors, daughter of Dr. Beverly Jones III and Janet Jones of Winston-Salem.
  • Christina Margaret Korzen, a junior with environmental studies and public policy majors, daughter of John Korzen and Catherine Korzen of Kernersville.
  • Elizabeth Salisbury Neill, a senior with psychology and political science majors, of Winston-Salem.
  • Samuel Leo Pranikoff, a senior with a political science major and a sustainability studies minor, son of Dr. Thomas Pranikoff and Karen Pranikoff of Winston-Salem.
  • Dustin P Sneed, a junior with an economics major and a chemistry minor, son of Steve Sneed and Kathy Sneed of Winston-Salem.

 

Gaston County

  • Mitchell Coles Hanks, a senior with an exercise and sport science major, of Belmont.

 

Guilford County

  • Erin Kennedy Allred, a senior with a communication studies major and a dramatic art minor, of Oak Ridge.
  • Suejette Davidson Black, a senior with an economics major and a chemistry minor, daughter of Richard Black of Wilmington and Sydney Cardone of Greensboro.
  • Katherine Marie Corum, a senior with a geography major and history and women’s and gender studies minors, daughter of Daniel Corum and Megan Corum of Pleasant Garden.
  • Jordan Robert Elliott, a senior with a computer science major and a history minor, son of Dennis Elliott and Inez Elliott of Brown Summit.
  • Anne Bennett Osteen, a senior with business administration and English majors, daughter of Bill Osteen Jr. and Elizabeth Osteen of Greensboro.
  • Shannon Elise Paylor, a senior with a mathematical decision sciences major and a French minor, daughter of Flynn Paylor and Deb Paylor.
  • Catherine Marie Phipps, a senior with a sociology major and a Spanish for the professions minor, daughter of David Phipps and Lynn Phipps of High Point.

 

Johnston County

  • Lewis Carpenter Flowers III, a senior with economics and history majors and a philosophy, politics and economics minor, son of Lewis Flowers Jr. and Kimberly Flowers of Manila, Philippines.

 

Mecklenburg County

  • Brooke Alexandria Davies, a senior with a peace, war and defense major, daughter of David Davies and Michele Fasciana of Charlotte.
  • Morgan Elizabeth Ferone, a junior with a biology major and religious studies and chemistry minors, daughter of Michael Ferone and Susan Ferone of Charlotte.
  • Laura Wells Gill, a senior with a computer science major and a business administration minor, daughter of Thold Gill and Ellen Gill of Charlotte.
  • Daniel Aryon Khordehforosh, a senior with a chemistry major and biology and business administration minors, son of Parvaneh Taheri of Charlotte.
  • Kayla Grace Kopczynski, a senior with a biology major, daughter of Todd Kopczynski and Michelle Moore of Charlotte.
  • Lee Powell Landess, a senior with a music major and chemistry and biology minors, son of Bart Landess and Fran Landess of Charlotte.
  • Lewis McAden Malone, a junior with computer science and philosophy majors and a writing for the screen and stage minor, son of James Malone and Mary Malone of Chapel Hill.
  • Allison Marvin, a junior with a biology major and a chemistry minor, of Charlotte.
  • Bharath Rama, a junior with biochemistry and mathematics majors, son of Ganapathy Rama and Savithri Konamme of Matthews.
  • Sharath Rama, a junior with a biostatistics major and a chemistry minor, son of Ganapathy Rama and Savithri Konamme of Matthews.
  • Emily Anne Reckard, a senior with anthropology and environmental studies majors and a geography minor, daughter of Heidi Reckard and Stan Reckard of Charlotte.
  • Roman John Rogowski, a senior with a computer science major and a mathematics minor, of Huntersville.
  • Anne Rutledge, a senior with history and global studies majors and an education minor, of Davidson.
  • Rachel Carolyn Cheng Uri, a senior with a psychology major and a neuroscience minor, of Charlotte.
  • Michelle Zixin Yu, a junior with biology and communication studies majors and a studio art minor, daughter of Jennifer Yu of Charlotte.
  • Huanyu Zhu, a junior with a biochemistry major and a computer science minor, son of Xiuli Lin and Chenfu Zhu of Charlotte.

 

Moore County

  • Elaine Kaye Kearney, a junior with biostatistics and computer science majors, daughter of Wayne Kearney Jr. and Jennifer Kearney of Pinehurst.
  • Grant Alexander King, a senior with economics and linguistics majors and a Japanese minor, of Pinehurst.

 

New Hanover County

  • Katharine Chase Frazier, a senior with an English major, of Wilmington.
  • Justine Taylor Orlovsky-Schnitzler, a senior with history and women’s and gender studies majors and a social and economic justice minor, daughter of Steven Schnitzler and Lisa Schnitzler of Wilmington.
  • Ellie Scialabba, a senior with a psychology major and geography and religious studies minors, daughter of Dr. Fred Scialabba and Dr. Annette Scialabba of Wilmington.

 

Onslow County

  • Erika Lynn Booth, a senior with biology and psychology majors and a chemistry minor, daughter of Ginger Booth and Scott Booth of Jacksonville.

 

Orange County

  • Emily Belding, a senior with political science and global studies majors and an environmental studies minor, of Hillsborough.
  • Susan K Leichliter, a senior with a women’s and gender studies major and a social and economic justice minor, of Chapel Hill.
  • Nathaniel Pritchard, a senior with mathematical decision sciences and economics majors and a Spanish for the professions minor, son of William Pritchard and Michelle Pritchard of Chapel Hill.
  • Kevin Su, a senior with a psychology major and cognitive science and chemistry minors, of Chapel Hill.
  • Teddy Wong, Jr., a junior with chemistry and mathematics majors, of Chapel Hill.

 

Pitt County

  • Patrick John Moloney, a senior with economics and business administration majors, son of Rob Moloney and Maria Moloney of Greenville.
  • Brendon Connor Murray, a junior with archaeology and history majors, son of Dr. Kevin Murray and Dr. Maria Murray of Greenville.

 

Rockingham County

  • Nathan Ray Hayes, a senior with political science and history majors, son of Kenneth Hayes and Teresa Hayes of Reidsville.

 

Union County

  • Megan Nicole Brown, a senior with a Hispanic linguistics major and a speech and hearing sciences minor, daughter of Mark Brown and Elaine Brown of Weddington.
  • Jessica Reggan Hoffman, a junior with environmental sciences and mathematics majors and a chemistry minor, daughter of Greg Hoffman and Chandra Hoffman of Indian Trail.
  • Jeet H Patel, a senior with a quantitative biology major, son of Hitesh Patel and Tejal Patel of Monroe.

 

Wake County

  • Jacqueline Ivy Battaile, a senior with a history major, daughter of Lawrence Battaile and Dr. Melinda Battaile of Raleigh.
  • Abigail Elizabeth Bell, a senior with a global studies major and Spanish and geography minors, daughter of Thomas Bell and Julia Bell and of Cary.
  • William Michael Buddendeck, a junior with economics and music majors and a Spanish for the professions minor, son of Michael Buddendeck and Karen Buddendeck of Cary.
  • Lin Cao, a junior with biology and anthropology majors and a chemistry minor, daughter of Lianyong Cao and Wei Wang of Cary.
  • Bailey Reed DeSimone, a senior with history and global studies majors and a German minor, daughter of Doug DeSimone of Raleigh and Patty Sandberg of Cary.
  • Eileen May Harvey, a senior with a global studies major and Chinese and urban studies and planning minors, daughter of David Harvey and Grace Harvey of Cary.
  • Wendy Kally Ji, a senior with a public policy major and a business administration minor, daughter of Dr. Wan Ji and Dr. Li Cai of Cary.
  • Kaitlyn Rose Johnson, a senior with a biology major and chemistry and women’s and gender studies minors, daughter of David Johnson and Kristyn Johnson of Raleigh.
  • Nina Rachel Joseph, a junior with mathematical decision sciences and computer science majors and a Jewish studies minor, of Cary.
  • Stephanie Kim, a junior with a chemistry major and a Spanish for the professions minor, daughter of Dr. Kalhee Kim and Jenny Kim of Cary.
  • Sarah Gray Lesley, a junior with English and music majors and a creative writing minor, daughter of Robert Lesley and Lu-Ann Lesley of Raleigh.
  • Dana Michelle Lingenfelser, a senior with an environmental studies major and a public policy minor, daughter of Charles Lingenfelser and Denise Lingenfelser of Fuquay-Varina.
  • Charles Bracken Lumsden, a senior with history and anthropology majors and a Spanish minor, son of William Lumsden and Margaret Lumsden of Raleigh.
  • Ryan K. McCord, a junior with public policy and global studies majors and an African studies minor, of Raleigh.
  • Aakash Mehta, a junior with environmental health sciences and biology majors and a chemistry minor, of Holly Springs.
  • Alexander Scot O’Hara, a senior with a biology major and chemistry and neuroscience minors, son of Jeffrey O’Hara and Brenda O’Hara of Cary.
  • William Robert Ostrom, a senior with a nutrition major and a chemistry minor, son of Bob Ostrom and Melissa Ostrom of Cary.
  • Timothy Michael Preston, a senior with an exercise and sport science major and a chemistry minor, of Raleigh.
  • Laura Elizabeth Roberson, a junior with biology and geography majors, daughter of Mark Roberson and Muriel Roberson of Cary.
  • Halle Marie Ronk, a junior with biology and chemistry majors, daughter of Kevin Ronk and Lorraine Ronk of Raleigh.
  • Rohanit Singh, a junior with environmental health sciences and biology majors and a Spanish for the medical professions minor, son of Dr. Manmohan Singh and Ritu Singh of Cary.
  • Priyanka Srinivas, a junior with a biology major and neuroscience and chemistry minors, daughter of Srinivasa Boregowda and Bharati Srinivasa of Cary.
  • Olivia Terrell, a senior with a communication studies major and an English minor, of Cary.
  • Paige Emily Trexler, a junior with a biology major and chemistry and Spanish for the professions minors, daughter of Mark Trexler and Suzanne Trexler of Cary.
  • Audrey Elizabeth Woolard, a senior with English and history majors and a creative writing minor, daughter of James Woolard Jr. and Michelle Woolard of Raleigh.
  • Andrew Joseph Notz Zalesak, a sophomore with chemistry and music majors, of Cary.

 

Watauga County

  • Lynde Marie Wangler, a junior with a psychology major and neuroscience and biology minors, of Boone.

 

Wilkes County

  • Erin Kolstad, a senior with media and journalism and psychology majors, daughter of Charles Kolstad and Catherine Kolstad of Wilkesboro.

 

Connecticut

  • Nikaya Smith, a senior with a mathematics major and a mathematical decision sciences minor, daughter of Clarence Smith and Penny Smith of West Hartford.

 

Delaware

  • Benjamin Clyde Creekmore, a junior with biochemistry and biophysics majors and a biology minor, son of Dr. J. Richard Creekmore and Lisa Creekmore of Wilmington.

 

Florida

  • Jonathan Tyler Alvarez, a junior with a biomedical and health sciences engineering major, son of Jose Alvarez of Miami.
  • Martina Knechel, a junior with biochemistry and biology majors, of Gainesville.
  • Diana Cristina Lopez, a junior with biology and Hispanic literature and cultures majors and a neuroscience minor, daughter of Jaime Lopez and Diana B. Lopez of Miami.
  • Shelby L. Waldron, a junior with psychology and exercise and sport science majors, daughter of R. Larry Waldron and Dolores Waldron of Brandon.

 

Georgia

  • Sarah Ellyn Boland, a senior with health behavior and physics majors and a chemistry minor, daughter of Dr. Ryan Boland and Dr. Pam Boland of Savannah.
  • Prasanna Kumar, a junior with psychology and economics majors and a chemistry minor, son of Dr. Sri Kumar and Ganga Kumar of Buford.
  • Alexandra Marie Paré, a senior with a broadcast and electronic journalism major and an entrepreneurship minor, daughter of Richard Paré and Anna Paré of Atlanta.
  • Amy Elizabeth Shehan, a senior with a political science major and Spanish for the professions and social and economic justice minors, daughter of Wayne Shehan and Mary Shehan of Alpharetta.
  • Mary Caroline Tarallo, a junior with biology and chemistry majors, daughter of Frank Tarallo of Atlanta and Cathy Roush of Hilton Head, South Carolina.

 

Maryland

  • Emily Claire Crockett, a senior with information science and art history majors and an Italian minor, daughter of David Crockett Jr. of Zimmerman, Minnesota and Susan Crockett of Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Martha Isaacs, a senior with a geography major and city and regional planning and philosophy minors, daughter of William Isaacs and Louise Isaacs of Baltimore.
  • Emma Johnson, a senior with political science and history majors and a women’s and gender studies minor, daughter of Mark Johnson and Donna Tasso-Johnson of Potomac.
  • Christina Marie Kochanski, a senior with an economics major and a philosophy, politics, and economics minor, daughter of Matthew Kochanski and Margaret Kochanski of Columbia.
  • Spencer Kyle Lichtenberg, a senior with computer science and Asian studies majors, son of Marc Lichtenberg and Leslie Lichtenberg of Baltimore.
  • Carolyn Jennifer Reuland, a junior with biology and Spanish majors and a chemistry minor, daughter of Dr. Charles Reuland and Melissa Reuland of Baltimore.

 

Massachusetts

  • Andrea Joyce McSweeney, a senior with a biology major and a Spanish for the professions minor, daughter of Gregory McSweeney and Joyce McSweeney of Needham.
  • Benjamin Edward Shirley, a senior with a health policy and management major and a Spanish for the professions minor, of Beverly.

 

Missouri

  • Michael Gu, a junior with computer science and mathematics majors, of St. Louis.

 

New Jersey

  • William Matthew Townley Christoffersen, a junior with English and American studies majors and a music minor, of Lawrenceville.
  • Kimberly Mae Hoover, a junior with a psychology major and chemistry and biology minors, of Medford.

 

New Mexico

  • Ana Cutts Dougherty, a senior with economics and global studies majors and a philosophy, politics and economics minor, daughter of Tim Dougherty and Dr. Katharine Dougherty of Interlochen, Michigan.

 

New York

  • David Cortese DeGenova, a senior with a philosophy major and mathematical decision sciences and entrepreneurship minors, of Croton on Hudson.
  • Kelly Lynn Jasiura, a senior with public relations and public policy majors, daughter of Richard Jasiura and Joyce Jasiura of Buffalo.
  • Diane G Li, a senior with a public policy major, daughter of Minbin Li and Zhuobin Chen of New Hyde Park.
  • Isabel Maria Pinheiro, a senior with an interdisciplinary studies major and a composition, rhetoric and digital literacy minor, of Menands.
  • Matthew Ragusa, a junior with business administration and computer science majors, son of Gerard Ragusa and Jamie Ragusa of Staten Island.
  • Kathryn Nell Ryan, a senior with a psychology major and a Spanish for the professions minor, daughter of Greg Ryan and Eileen Ryan of Rockville Centre.
  • Danielle Christina Spitzer, a senior with biology and women’s and gender studies majors and a chemistry minor, daughter of Peter Spitzer and Doris Spitzer of Albany.

 

Ohio

  • Michael Louis Palumbo III, a junior with astrophysics and Latin majors, son of Michael Palumbo Jr. and Christina Palumbo of Concord.

 

Oregon

  • Ashley Han, a junior with a biology major and music and chemistry minors, daughter of Dr. Dong-ho Han and Mi-young Han of Beaverton.

 

Pennsylvania

  • Brian Charles Shields, a senior with philosophy and economics majors, son of Joseph Shields and Valerie Shields of Pittsburgh.

 

South Carolina

  • Aaron Paul Lovett, a senior with communication studies and documentary studies majors and a creative writing minor, son of the late James Lovett of Charleston and Iris Lovett of Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Madeline Norris, a senior with English and psychology majors and a creative writing minor, daughter of Terry Melloh of Columbia.
  • Sarah Suzanne Renfro, a junior with an environmental health sciences major and a computer science minor, daughter of Dr. John Renfro and Dr. Suzanne Renfro of Greenville.

 

Texas

  • Gefen Kusin-Kline, a senior with an English major, of Dallas.
  • Katherine Anne Stotesbery, a senior with public policy and political science majors and an entrepreneurship minor, daughter of William Stotesbery and Susan Stotesbery of Austin.

 

Vermont

  • Anne Sutton, a junior with music and geography majors, daughter of Edward Sutton and Lynn Sutton of Burlington.

 

Virginia

  • Grant Scott Broussard, a junior with biology and chemistry majors, of Glen Allen.
  • Julia Whipple Gallini, a senior with biostatistics and mathematics majors and a music minor, daughter of Peter Gallini and Alisha Gallini of Richmond.
  • Michael Joseph Sanders, a junior with history and English majors and a philosophy, politics and economics minor, son of David Sanders and Jane Kotlarski of McLean.
  • Kara Louise Walker, a junior with information science and Latin majors, daughter of Dr. Richard Walker and Ellen Walker of Blacksburg.

 

West Virginia

  • Jasmine Shishir Shah, a senior with biology and psychology majors and a chemistry minor, daughter of Dr. Shishir Shah and Bindiya Shah of Wheeling.

 

Canada

  • Ariana B. Vaisey, a senior with an economics major and a geography minor, of Vancouver.

 

China

  • Xuewen Chen, a junior with biology and chemistry majors, of Hangzhou.
  • Zhengyang Fang, a junior with computer science and mathematical decision sciences majors, son of Lei Fang and Shuxian Wu of Jinan.
  • Jialing Jiang, a senior with economics and philosophy majors, of Beijing.
  • Ao Joseph Qiao, a junior with public policy and economics majors and a mathematical decision science minor, of Anhui.
  • Shengding Sun, a junior with a mathematics major and a computer science minor, of Beijing.
  • Zijun Tian, a junior with mathematical decision sciences and economics majors and a mathematics minor, of Jinan.
  • Xingzhi Wang, a junior with chemistry and mathematics majors and a geography minor, of Guangzhou.
  • Zicheng Ye, a junior with mathematics and economics majors, son of Boyu Ye and Wei Sun.
  • Wei Zhou, a senior with business journalism and political science majors, daughter of Qingsong Zhou and Qiuling Hu of Zhengzhou.

 

England

  • James Patrick Ellsmoor, a May 2016 graduate with geography and economics majors and a sustainability studies minor, son of Stephen Ellsmoor and Jane Ellsmoor of Market Drayton.

 

Peru

  • Gerardo Manuel Perez Goncalves, a junior with a biochemistry major and mathematics and biology minors, son of Leopoldo Perez Padilla and Yracy Goncalves Pereira of Morrisville, North Carolina.

 

 

-Carolina-

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 110 master’s, 64 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s 317,000-plus alumni live in all 50 states and 156 other countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

 

Phi Beta Kappa contact: Jason Clemmons, (919) 843-7756, jclem@email.unc.edu

University Communications contact: MC VanGraafeiland, (919) 962-7090, mc.vangraafeiland@unc.edu

Real Sound in a Virtual World

March 21, 2017

Gaming giant Valve acquires Impulsonic — a UNC-created 3-D sound simulation software company started by two PhD students and faculty within the Department of Computer Science.

By
March 13th, 2017
Business | Computer Science | Invention: Redefining Enterprise and Technology | Videos | Visual Arts

Take a moment to focus on the sounds around you. Maybe you’re sitting at a desk and someone walks by in the hallway. Even though you can’t see them, you can hear their footsteps and can tell when they get closer, when they walk away, and that they’ve just passed by to your left.

We take sound cues from our environment every moment of every day and rely on them much more than we consciously realize. Virtual reality (VR) and gaming researchers are studying how to replicate the paths sound takes before reaching our ears — they call it three-dimensional spatialized sound. In order for a virtual world to be truly immersive, the sounds in that world need to give us these cues. That’s what engineers of 3-D sound simulation hope to achieve. Besides VR, these sound propagation technologies are also used for evaluating the acoustic effects of architectural buildings and noise modeling in both indoor and outdoor environments.

In 2011, PhD students Anish Chandak and Lakulish Antani approached computer science professors Ming Lin and Dinesh Manocha with the idea of using existing UNC technologies for physically based sound simulation to create a startup to develop sound simulation tools for different applications. This resulted in the formation of Impulsonic — a startup company supported by a Carolina Express License from the UNC Office of Commercialization and Economic Development, as well as strong backing from the Department of Computer Science, College of Arts & Sciences, and Launch Chapel Hill, a member of the Innovate Carolina network.

Starting a company without much business experience can be challenging, Manocha points out. “It is always a bit risky in the technology space because very few startups really make it.”

This past January, gaming giant Valve, widely known for its Steam platform, purchased Impulsonic. With the acquisition, Chandak and Antani now work at Valve on Steam Audio, a direct continuation of Impulsonic’s product, formerly called Phonon. “As far as our products and team is concerned, we are with Valve now,” Antani says. “Steam Audio is just the next release of our original product at Impulsonic.”

The acquisition will provide a vast amount of resources to help the team further develop one of the best 3-D sound simulation solutions into an even better product. It also allows Valve’s enormous audience, with more than 125 million Steam users, to experience this incredibly realistic sound software. “This is a great mechanism to transition the ideas from university research into widely used commercial products,” Manocha says.

Hearing in 3-D

In current games, sound is usually layered on top of the visuals and does not interact with the world on the screen. It’s similar to the soundtrack of a movie, which doesn’t change based on where the characters are in the film or what’s happening in it.  Movies like “Apocalypse Now” and “Saving Private Ryan,” have attempted to change this by using stereo speaker systems that play sounds left or right, to make the viewer feel like they’re immersed in the movie. While that can be effective, 3-D audio does more than play sounds out of different speakers and actually manipulates sound waves so they act as they would in the real world.

Before it reaches our ears, sound waves undergo a number of changes based on the environment, the position of the sound, the location of the listener, and even the shape of the listener’s head. Phonon uses several algorithms to manipulate sound sources before they reach the listener to reflect these changes.

“In my office, there is a carpet and a wall,” Manocha describes. “Imagine if my floor was all concrete and my wall replaced by all glass. Do you know how my office would sound? There would be a lot of reverberation and less absorption.” Phonon can predict these sound effects without building the physical prototypes. “We are working with many engineering and architecture design firms to design better tools for acoustic evaluation,” Manocha adds.

Manipulating sound waves so they reflect this change is called physics-based sound propagation. It also takes into account the relative positions of the listener to the sound source and is likely the reason Valve chose Impulsonic over competing 3-D sound startups, according to Antani. “On the industry side, you can probably count the number of teams that are working on this on one hand,” he says. “It’s not always something that people work on within the virtual reality realm.”

Three-dimensional sound researchers typically spend their time studying the shape of the listener’s head to determine how sound molds itself. To do this, they use a mathematical model called HRTF (head-related transfer function). This is part of a larger area of sound research called binaural rendering, which attempts to produce a form of surround sound that’s heard not only from the left and right sides of the body but also above and below.

“If you are sitting to my left as I speak, some of my sound waves will go over what’s called line-of-sight sound to your left ear directly. Then, parts of those waves bend around your head and go into your right ear,” Manocha says, adding that the latter waves produce lower frequency sound effects. The human brain can process the differences between these sounds to figure out the exact direction of the original sound source.

In the same way prescription glasses or fingerprints are specific to an individual, HRTF varies for each listener. The current solution in games and virtual reality is to use a generic HRTF, but this means some people will hear sounds more realistically than those whose HRTF does not match as closely to the generic one. Antani and Chandrak chose to work more on sound propagation because of the relative ease of getting a decently accurate HRTF. “Once you get the HRTF to a reasonable baseline, it becomes super important to make sure that any sound you hear is coherent with whatever you are seeing,” Antani says.

Binaural rendering — and, by extension, Phonon — works best with headphones, because each side represents an ear in the sound simulation setup. With speakers, the sounds will play with the rendering, but the listener’s environment outside of the virtual world will affect how the sound reaches the ears and muddy the effect. Most virtual reality headsets come with headphones, so this is usually not an issue unless you’re listening to demos of binaurally rendered sound outside of VR.

Following a different path

The move to Valve was a natural transition for Chandak and Antani, since its structure actually resembles that of a startup. “Valve is very well-known for having a flat organizational structure, which means you don’t have bosses and such,” Antani says. “Everybody owns a piece of whatever it is they’re working on. That’s very much like a startup, except you have access to resources from a larger company.”

For technology startups, one of the best exit strategies is acquisition, according to Lin and Manocha. With the money, resources, and support of a successful company, Chandak and Antani can focus on developing the technology while leaving the bureaucratic issues to Valve. “As a CEO, you’re also worrying about the marketing and customer support, along with fundraising,” Manocha says. “It gets very challenging doing five jobs.”

In parallel to the commercial developments at Impulsonic, Lin and Manocha have continued their research in sound synthesis and propagation with other undergraduate and graduate students at Carolina. Some of their recent graduates are currently working on sound simulation research and commercial products at other leading companies such as Oculus/Facebook, Microsoft, and Google.

Lin and Manocha are very proud of their students and optimistic about the future of Phonon. With the acquisition, the likelihood that this UNC research will be adopted by the world of 3-D sound is high. “VR wasn’t hot in 2011, but Anish and Lakulish took the risk,” Manocha says. “They could have pursued high-paying industry jobs like their fellow graduate students, but instead took a much more nontraditional route. You have to give them a lot of credit for the success of Impulsonic.”

Anish Chandak received his PhD in computer science from UNC in 2011. He was the CEO of UNC startup Impulsonic, which was acquired by Valve in 2017. He began his role as senior engineer at Valve in January 2017.

Lakulish Antani received his PhD in computer science from UNC in 2013. He was the vice president of engineering for UNC startup Impulsonic and began his role as virtual reality audio engineer at Valve in November 2016.

Ming Lin is the John R. & Louise S. Parker Distinguished Professor of computer science at UNC and one of the co-leaders of the GAMMA research group.

Dinesh Manocha is a Phi Delta Theta/Mason Distinguished Professor of computer science at UNC and one of the co-leaders of the GAMMA research group.

The Vice Chancellor’s Office for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development is led by Judith Cone, who came to UNC in 2010 after 15 years as a senior executive at the Kauffman Foundation. The office works to strengthen a collaborative and supportive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship collectively referred to as Innovate Carolina. It connects resources, people, and programs with existing and emerging opportunities.

Impulsonic received funding from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Army Research Office, and NC IDEA — and also supported the research at UNC via small business grants. Other supporters of sound simulation research within the UNC Computer Science Department include Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA, and Link Foundation. More details of this research can be found here.

Fruits Of Valve’s Impulsonic Acquisition Appear: Steam Audio Beta Launched

February 22, 2017

by Kevin Carbotte February 23, 2017 at 2:30 PM – Source: Valve

In early January, we discovered that Valve had acquired a 3D audio company called Impulsonic. Valve didn’t reveal the news, but Impulsonic’s website indicated that Valve swallowed up the company’s assets and employees.

Impulsonic made a physics-based binaural 3D audio utility called Phonon 3D that enhances 3D audio experiences to create believable sound profiles for virtual environments. 3D audio technology is a big deal for virtual reality experience and games, so it was no surprise that Valve saw value in Impulsonic’s technology.

Impulsonic’s employees transitioned to Valve’s headquarters in January and they didn’t waste time getting to work. The team created the Steam Audio SDK, which Valve described as the next generation of Impulsonic’s Phonon special audio tools adapted specifically for virtual reality applications.

Valve wants to give VR developers every opportunity to build amazing content with as little risk as possible. Valve already offers an open-source version of its VR hardware driver set called OpenVR, and the company licenses its Lighthouse positional tracking technology at no cost to developers. (Now the training material is free, too). The Steam Audio SDK is another royalty-free component of Valve’s growing virtual reality development ecosystem.

“Valve is always trying to advance what the very best games and entertainment can offer,” said Anish Chandak of Valve. “Steam Audio is a feature-rich spatial audio solution available to all developers, for use wherever and however they want to use it.”

The initial version of the Steam Audio SDK has native support for the Unity engine, but if you’re using any other engine, you must write code to integrate the software. Valve included a C API so that you can integrate Steam Audio into other game engines and middleware.

A plugin for Unreal Engine isn’t far behind the Unity plugin, though. Epic Games plans to demonstrate Steam Audio in Unreal Engine at GDC in March.

“As a new plugin for the new Unreal Audio Engine, Steam Audio fundamentally extends its capabilities and provides a multi-platform solution to game audio developers who want to create realistic and high-quality sound propagation, reverberation modeling, and binaural spatialization for their games,” said Aaron McLeran, audio programmer at Epic Games.

Valve’s Steam Audio SDK is available today in beta form. You can find more information on Valve’s GitHub page and the Community Hub.