Research

On-going Research

Much of my research is centered around leveraging emerging web-based technologies to enable people to manage data in various ways. This includes empowering local communities to be self-advocates by making data easily accessible through web-based content management while maintaining online safety and privacy.

Externally Funded:  TUES: Collaborating Across Boundaries to Engage Undergraduates in Computational Thinking (CABECT). National Science Foundation (NSF). DUE Division of Undergraduate Education. NSF Award #1141170. Academic Years 2012 – 2015.

Principal Investigator (PI): S. Monisha Pulimood, Computer Science
Co-PI: Kim Pearson, Journalism
Evaluator: Diane Bates, Sociology

To develop a model for students and faculty to collaborate across diverse disciplines and with a community organization to develop technology-based solutions to address complex real-world problems. As a proof-of-concept, this project is focusing on collaboration between computer science and journalism faculty and students, and the Habitat for Humanity, Trenton Area (HH) to address the problem of pollution in targeted neighborhoods of Trenton, NJ. SOAP (Students Organizing Against Pollution) is an online system that is intended to manage data on brownfields in the area. One goal is to enable HH make informed decisions before acquiring properties that could be contaminated and require expensive cleanup prior to construction. Another goal is to empower citizens to learn, share, and contribute pollution data, and become active participants in environmental advocacy and public policy deliberations.

Award information on the NSF website: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1141170
More on NSF: http://nsf.gov/
More on the TUES program: http://nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5741

Mentored Research: SOAP – Web-based System to manage data on brownfields, and legislation related to pollution and the environment

Research Group:
Summer 2013 – Conor Kelton, Joseph Canero (funded through the MUSE program)
Spring 2013 – Dan Cahill
Fall 2012 – Francisco Estevez, Shahzore Qureshi
Summer 2012 – Francisco Estevez, Shahzore Qureshi (funded through the MUSE program)
Spring 2012 – Kevin Coughlin, Francisco Estevez, Shahzore Qureshi, Adam Sferlazzo, Kevin Smokowski

In Fall 2011, the Database Systems class designed and developed the back-end databases and user interfaces for four modules of a system to manage data related to brownfields and pollutants in Mercer County, New Jersey. The students named the system SOAP (Students Organizing Against Pollution).  In 2012, we integrated the separate modules and added modules to the web application that is hosted on the Amazon EC2 cloud. This includes support for user participation through social networks like Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, etc.
In 2013 we are further developing the existing modules and adding functionality through collaborations between my software engineering class and Professor Kim Pearson’s journalism topics class.

Mentored Research: Grid Computing.

Some students who have worked on this project at various times: Shane Mullin, Stephen Sigwart, Dan Tilden, Andrew Chiusano, John Brisbin.

A grid computing environment can harness underutilized campus resources to perform large computations by distributing them across the idle computers, each executing smaller, more manageable, subtasks. In addition to increasing the total computing power available for a problem, such a grid computing infrastructure can foster the creation of innovative new algorithms for solving computational problems in a variety of disciplines. TCNJ has several labs equipped with state-of-the-art computers for use by students and faculty. There are periods, for example during the night, weekends or during the summer months, when a significant number of these machines are underutilized.  This research project focuses on building a more robust and secure grid computing model (TGRID) for tackling large computational problems in a variety of domains by leveraging existing computing resources, such as in a lab where the computers are used by a variety of users for a variety of purposes.

Selected Past Research Projects

Externally Funded: Meeting the Challenges of Next-Generation Journalism with CAFÉ  (Collaboration and Facilitation Environment). Research Award for Collaborative Research Experiences for Undergraduates (CREU) from Computing Research Association Committee on the Status of Women in Computer Science and Engineering (CRA-W). Academic Year 2010 – 2011.  www.tcnj.edu/~mobcompl/creu1011.

Student Researchers: Siobhan Sabino, Sarah Smith and Rachel Pomeroy

We continued development of CAFÉ (Collaboration and Facilitation Environment), a content management system designed to provide a safe, web-based environment for writing and sharing online story packages that include text-based articles, multimedia artifacts, and procedural animations built in Scratch. CAFE originated to support IJIMS (see below).

Mentored Research: Analysis of Privacy and Security in HTML5 Web Storage

Student Researcher: Will West, Spring 2011.

The web has evolved from a simple media consumption device to an extremely complex programming platform over the past couple of decades. With the exponential growth of Internet use, web applications are becoming increasingly popular: they are easy to distribute, simple to update, and widely accessible. However, a uniform programming method for developing web applications does not currently exist. Developers must be experts in and juggle a combination of different languages in order to create fully functional web applications. W3C’s introduction of HTML5 attempts to alleviate this problem. The Web Storage specification offers a method for storing client-side data as an alternative to the use of cookies in web applications. In this project, the Web Storage specification was analyzed with regard to privacy, security, and performance of current and future web technologies, with emphasis on the advantages and disadvantages of the localStorage and sessionStorage attributes and their impact on privacy and security.

Externally Funded: Broadening Participation in Computing via Community Journalism for Middle Schoolers. National Science Foundation (NSF) Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) program. NSF Grant Number CNS 0739173. Academic Years 2007 – 2010. www.tcnj.edu/~ijims.

Lead Principal Investigator (PI): Ursula Wolz
Co-PIs: Kim Pearson and S. Monisha Pulimood
Gender/Equity Specialist and Program Manager: Mary Switzer
External Evaluator: Meredith Stone

The grant supported our demonstration project, IJIMS (Interactive Journalism Institute for Middle Schoolers), which is an innovative model for broadening participation in computing beyond traditional domains of inquiry and expertise. We use Interactive Journalism to infuse computational thinking into the after school experience at a middle school with a diverse population. An intense summer institute followed by an after school program immerses teachers and students in the “newsroom of the future” where they research and write news stories, using procedural animations in Scratch to support their storyline. Outcomes indicate that students and teachers who did not necessarily view themselves as “math types” develop positive attitudes about computational thinking and programming. More information about this project is available at www.tcnj.edu/~ijims.

Externally Funded: Designing the Next-Generation Magazine: Content, Usability and Information Security. Research Award for Collaborative Research Experiences for Undergraduates (CREU) from Computing Research Association Committee on the Status of Women in Computer Science and Engineering (CRA-W). Academic Year 2009 – 2010. www.tcnj.edu/~mobcompl/creu0910/.

Faculty Mentors: S. Monisha Pulimood, Kim Pearson and Ursula Wolz
Student Researchers: Siobhan Sabino and Kelli Plasket

Mentored Research: GumShoe – A Database Driven Web Application for Computer Aided Reporting

Student Researcher: Nathan Tick, Spring 2008.

Computing technologies such as databases, geographic information systems, statistical analysis programs and the Internet have radically changed the way journalists investigate and deliver news to the public. Journalists often use computer based tools to help them better analyze and generate investigative reports, a process known as Computer Aided Reporting (CAR). In Fall 2007 students in the Database Systems class, in collaboration with a journalism professor (and her CAR independent study students) and a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, designed and developed the back-end database for a CAR system to efficiently maintain, query, and track statistical gun crime data. In Spring 2008, the web application, named Gumshoe, was developed into an innovative investigative tool for a study on gun crime in Philadelphia, and a starting point for what ultimately became a hard-hitting series of investigative stories, with far-reaching consequences.

Externally Funded: Designing the Next-Generation Magazine: Content, Usability and Information Security. Research Award for Collaborative Research Experiences for Undergraduates (CREU) from Computing Research Association Committee on the Status of Women in Computer Science and Engineering (CRA-W). Academic Year 2007 – 2008. www.tcnj.edu/~mobcompl/creu07/.

Student Researchers: Karen DelDuca and Alexandra Raymond

Externally Funded: Design, Implementation, and Optimization of Features in a Mobile Computational Language for Internet Programming. Research Award for Collaborative Research Experiences for Undergraduates (CREU) from Computing Research Association Committee on the Status of Women in Computer Science and Engineering (CRA-W). Academic Year 2005 – 2006. www.tcnj.edu/~mobcompl/creu05/.

Student Researchers: Amanda Micai, Elizabeth Carter and Gregory Adkins.