Summer Student Research

St. Lawrence University Summer Fellowship is a summer research program for undergraduates to

  • Provide new opportunities for student intellectual growth.
  • Support students in undertaking new initiatives that require special financial support.
  • Promote close student-faculty collaboration outside of the regular academic calendar.
  • Enable students to explore lines of inquiry without the immediate expectation of academic credit, in order to lay the foundation for integrative, credit-bearing activity that can take place during the next academic year.
  • Encourage interdisciplinary lines of inquiry, as well as those within traditional disciplines.
  • Recognize seriousness of purpose in students who seek to build imaginatively on their past achievements.

The SLU Fellowship is a great opportunity for both students and me to fully invest our efforts over a nine week period on exciting projects. Here are the students who have worked with me in the past and the summary of their projects.

Eduardo Puerta (Summer 2020)
Data Visualization for the Admissions Office

The Admissions Office at St. Lawrence University reaches out to students through email campaigns throughout their application process for reminder, yields and general communication. Understanding the effectiveness of an email campaign and its reach allows outreach teams within the office to develop content more tailored to the needs of the recipients. The project consists in creating a data visualization web application that takes data from the Admissions and Financial Aid Customer Report Management System to create graphical representations of campaign metrics. The application was designed to incorporate modularity of classes and statistical methods to calculate success metrics for campaigns. The development process involved evaluating and comparing different program architectures to design the program for scalability and extensibility

Sai Wei (Summer 2019)
Application of Gesture Control on Digital Screen Display

WeChat is the most widely used, multi-function super app in China, bringing convenience to every aspect of users’ daily life. However, novice users, those who are new to technology, are having a hard time trying to catch up with the updating functions in WeChat. Aptapp is a WeChat mini-program that allows users to easily get access to specific WeChat guidance with an intelligent customer service responding system. Launched by WeChat team in 2017, mini-programs are the sub-applications aiming to provide more possibilities for WeChat users. Customer service is one of the function components supported by the mini-program API. Working with cloud functions, the customer service in Aptapp is able to respond to users’ requests by sending back the corresponding web-link to the requested guidance. In order to make Aptapp more helpful for novice users, by analyzing the updating features and API’s from WeChat, Aptapp is expected to require less interactions but to provide more intelligent responding system to users in the future.


Xuanming Cui (Summer 2018)
Application of Gesture Control on Digital Screen Display

The primary goal of this research is to develop a way of using gesture to control digital screen in public scenarios, such as ads display, digital building directories etc. The device for recognizing gesture is Kinect V2,  a motion sensor developed by Microsoft. Since the target group is passer-by-people, the gesture controls need to be simple and intuitive. The final method I adopted is to use hand to control the cursor and thus control the screen.


Guinevere Gilman (Summer 2018)
High Bandwidth Mode in Overwatch

Interactive applications such as multiplayer online games require user interactions to be possible, because handled responsively, with the smallest amount of delay users must respond rapidly to the actions of other users in these types of games. A delay of even 50ms has been determined to make some multiplayer games to be frustrating and unplayable in previous investigations. However, there has not been sufficient research conducted to determine an acceptable threshold of delay for the playability of more modern games, as much of the data collected has been from games created in the 1990s and early 2000s.

This research focused on one of the most popular modern multiplayer team-based multiplayer games, known as Overwatch, which has made the claim that its relatively new high bandwidth mode will drastically increase the quality of experience bandwidth. It for players. It also claims to group is a first-person shooter, where two players with teams of six similar players compete against each other to fulfill various objectives using player characters with different types of weapons including hit-scan and projectile-based ones.


Nevaan Perera (Summer 2017)
An Xbox Kinect Approach: Transforming Projector Screens into Interactive Smart-boards using the Xbox Kinect

Smartboards add numerous benefits to the classroom experience such as easy writing and highlighting, surfing the web and controlling computer applications. These features significantly facilitate learning and teaching in the classroom; however, smartboards are with many shortcomings. Some of these shortcomings include cost, requirement of electronic pens and limitation of instructor participation. The current project intended to use the Xbox Kinect, which is a highly advanced depth sensor camera, to detect human body movements and execute tasks/applications on a projected screen. By leveraging such technology, we can transform regular projector screens into smart-boards, that are controlled just by the human body.


Khang Le (Summer 2017)
Exploring How to Simulate a Person’s Mouse Movements

“Today, human – computer interaction (HCI) studies propose practical applications to offer many ways to promote human life. One of the HCI projects is aimed at reducing frustration and improving the ability to manipulate the cursor when interacting with a computer that is not optimal for people with motor impairments. However, the research about these devices seems to be slow since they are required to conduct extensive testing and also involve human participation. Normally, this type of research might take years to finish. Therefore, I would like to investigate whether it would be possible to build a device that simulates a human’s mouse movements by collecting data from the human’s actual cursor movements and some simple actions such as clicking an icon on the screen. If it is possible to build such a device, we can accelerate many projects on the field of HCI research that assists in pointing tasks. The reason is by emulating human mouse’s movement from such a desired simulator, we do not need to find actual people to do the test of efficiency for the devices facilitating the use of computer for those people with motor impairments.”


Sean Godard (Summer 2015)

knot! Bringing the Web Browser to the 21st Century

“Over the past decades, while other technologies have undergone a rapid evolution, the web browser interface, specifically the tab system, has remained relatively unchanged despite the internet’s growing and changing usage. Experiencing this issue first hand, I was looking to improve this multi-document management system. The diagrams used in graph theory inspired me to display all open documents simultaneously on screen, with visible lines connecting related documents in clusters of more related documents. These links would be both manually and automatically created based on the content of the pages. Users could then navigate the mesh by zooming into and out of related document clusters and also pan around to other documents and clusters. There would also be a bar along the bottom with tab and group previews such that, when touched, would quickly center on that cluster or document for further quick content access. Users would also have the ability to independently change the size ratio and zoom level of the documents displayed on screen. The interface would then also support standard web browsers features, such as bookmarking and history. Further, all navigation in the interface would occur through either touch or mouse gestures.

First, I started to research user interface designs before moving on to implementing my interface to test its usefulness. I implemented the browser in Java, a language which I already had a lot of experience in, and a library called JavaFX. JavaFX is an application program interface (API) to assist in creating graphical user interfaces. Having less experience with this API, part of the summer was spent learning this library to create the user interface. Also, I learned how to deal with touch gestures, and, gained further experience in handling concurrent events, which is often considered a trickier aspect of programming. After several weeks of development, I began to discover that building an entire web browser from almost the ground up was more complicated than anticipated, especially since my interface has many features that most current web browsers do not have. For this reason, I was unable to implement the ability for documents to be manually and automatically linked together. Also, implementing the web browser and continuing to research interface options led me to come up with more features I would like to add and support. Specifically, I have new ideas on improving performance of my browser with a large number of web documents and navigation of document clusters. Although I was unable to complete the project at this time, it will certainly not be put to rest. I now feel confident in my ability to continue the development of this project over the coming years with hope that one day it will become a design model for future web browsers.”


Bayard Roberts (Summer 2015)

The Inner Workings of StarCraft II: Using Statistics to Sharpen the Competitive Edge

“On 11/8/14, Lee “Life” Seung Hyun won the Starcraft II 2014 World Championship Series Global Finals, organized by Blizzard Entertainment in California, earning himself $100,000. Life is considered to be one of the best players in the world of Starcraft II, a real-time strategy game that is, both fortunately and necessarily, very competitive. In the e-sports world, Starcraft II tournaments are known for being in the top five for most prize money awarded overall and for being in the top five for having the largest prize pool for a non-team game. Video game design is a complex undertaking, but few would argue that Blizzard, also the developer and publisher of Starcraft II, has succeeded in making the game a fun and enjoyable experience.
Compared to more casual players, Life and his peers care much less about how fun the game is. Competitiveness and game balance are very important aspects for Blizzard to maintain in their game because many people, over many tournaments and for many rewards, count on it. In this, the company has a sizeable job. It is not enough to create a seemingly balanced game and then let it free into the world. Rather, the game developers for Starcraft II need to constantly watch the gameplay of their game to find game imbalances that they no doubt overlooked. Players have been constantly improving and changing their game strategies ever since the beta release of the game came out in early 2010. Since then, it was inevitable that certain players would be able to find and exploit weaknesses in the game balance, using a strategy that was too powerful, too difficult to properly execute a counter strategy, or even too cost-efficient compared to other strategies. Luckily for the gamers, Blizzard has been up to this tireless job.”