Keynote Address: “The Future of Computing-Mediated Research and Innovation”

Daniel A. Reed, Vice President for Research and Economic Development; University Computational Science and Bioinformatics Chair

Daniel A. Reed

In science, medicine and engineering, a tsunami of new experimental and computational data is creating new research opportunities while also posing vexing problems in data analysis, transport, visualization and collaboration. In the arts, humanities and social sciences, rich networks of social interaction data, motion capture and digital artifacts are creating new opportunities for quantitative assessment and artistic expression. Concurrently, inexpensive cloud computing is reducing costs for IT operations and entrepreneurial startups, while supercomputers of unprecedented scale now allow us to model phenomena with a resolution heretofore unimaginable. 

In short, it’s a brave new world, with serious action at the very small (sensors and the Internet of things) and the very large (big data, clouds and supercomputing). In both cases, digital data now flows globally across cultural and governmental borders, challenging traditional structures.

What are the underlying technical, economic and social factors that have driven these changes?  How can we build flexible social structures and economic sustainability for research and innovation? How do we integrate the emerging Internet of Things and ubiquitous sensors, while also managing security and respecting privacy? What is the future, and how to we position ourselves for success?

“The Impact of Informatics at Iowa”

Ben Rogers, Senior Director of Research Services, Information Technology Services

The pace of technological change in our world continues to accelerate and is impacting every aspect of our society. How is the University of Iowa responding to position itself for the revolutions in Informatics and Big Data that are driving many of these changes? How will IT be impacted? What services are currently available on our campus? Where are there growing needs?

Informatics Researchers

1. “Personalized Genomic Medicine: Using high throughput sequencing data to understand the medical and scientific significance of variation in the human genome”

Tom Bair, Director, Bioinformatics Division, Iowa Institute for Human Genetics

The invention of next-generation sequencing has changed many facets of biology. With the drop in sequencing cost and density, going through several orders of magnitude of cost reduction per base sequenced, it has become possible to explore the interplay between an individual’s exact genomic sequence and their response to specific drugs, as well as their specific health risk factors. This is a developing area, and many of the challenges have to do with the analyzing, storing, and understanding the data. This talk will cover the emerging technologies that enable these diagnostics, the tools and research that allow the use of this data in a clinical and research environment, and the limitations of current techniques.

2. “Managing complexities of collecting, curating and performing analysis of 'Big Data’:  An exploration of the tools and engineering approaches used to support an international multi-site longitudinal study”

Hans Johnson, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry; Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

This talk will explore the complex interdisciplinary software systems developed to support the 32-site international PREDICTHD project that aims to better characterize disease progression in Huntington’s disease. Key aspects of how software engineering best practices are applied by an interdisciplinary team of computer scientists, software engineers, biostatisticians, and clinical investigators to accelerate the analysis and understanding of distributed and heterogeneous data sources will be presented. This presentation will describe the infrastructure and environment for the delivery of reproducible computational algorithms and scientific results, including the training and dissemination of these resources, to the larger medical research community.

3. “Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City”

Colin Gordon, Professor of History, UI College of Liberal Arts & Sciences 

( is a historical GIS project that combines demographic and political data with historical and archival resources to trace the sources of decline in a major American city. It is built on WorldMap, an open platform maintained by the Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis.

Breakout Sessions - Block I

Prime Time for Virtual Reality?

Joe Kearney, Professor of Computer Science, UI College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Progress in virtual reality (VR) has been slowed by the high cost and complexity of the software and technologies necessary to produce immersive, three-dimensional experience. Recent breakthroughs are bringing VR within reach of the home gaming market. This has the potential to unleash the forces of commoditization and dramatically transform the landscape of virtual environments. The recent purchase of Oculus by Facebook for $2 billion has generated tremendous excitement in the VR community and produced some ambitious projections about the future of VR (e.g. Oculus aims to put 1 billion people simultaneously into a virtual world). This presentation will discuss the current state of VR software and technology and consider some of the hurdles that remain to achieve low-cost, high-fidelity VR. The talk will also describe ongoing research in the Hank Virtual Environments lab at UI.

Lync Panel Discussion

Ryan Lenger and Steve Schallau, ITS Enterprise Communication and Collaboration

Microsoft Lync enables users to communicate securely anywhere they have network connectivity, unifying voice and video calls, Lync Meetings, presence, and instant messaging (IM) in one easy-to-use client and making it simple to choose and switch between different forms of communication. This session will begin with a brief presentation on the rollout and future plans for Lync on the UI campus. Then, a panel of Lync experts will discuss the use of Lync within their organization—specifically, how they use Lync to solve business problems and improve efficiency, effectiveness, and customer satisfaction. This will be a highly interactive session and questions from the audience are welcome.

Business Intelligence for Energy Consumption Monitoring

Katie Rossmann, Energy Engineer, Facilities Management

Facilities Management is beginning to use the new Microsoft business intelligence tool, Power BI, to perform analysis of energy consumption data on campus. The presentation will provide a glimpse into the capabilities of Power BI with some interesting insights into energy consumption in campus buildings. 

Breakout Sessions - Block II

“The Great Race: Data Security Edition”

Carl Ness, Information Security Officer, ITS

Not a week goes by without news of the latest company to get hacked, a critical security vulnerability, or a new identity theft/fraud/phishing campaign. This session will bring you up to speed on current events in the IT security sphere, along with what the UI and other universities are doing to win the great race to protect our data. Information will also be presented about what attendees can do to protect themselves on the job as well as at home.

Large Lecture Transformation Project

Jane Russell and Steve Silva, ITS Office of Teaching, Learning, & Technology

Funded by an Office of the Provost Student Success grant, the Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology has developed a pilot project to provide sufficient pedagogical and technological support to the faculty who want to transform existing large lecture courses into richer active learning environments. Two transformed courses from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Intro to Environmental Science, and Media History and Culture) were completed in spring 2014, and one course from the College of Engineering (Circuits) will be transformed for fall 2014. The presenters will address the transformation process in depth and major components in each course, and focus on how various IT resources were leveraged to provide the structural support to faculty that made an impact on student learning and engagement in the classroom. The speakers will also share the preliminary findings on the effectiveness of instructional design and technology.

“Dancing Robots”

Denise Szecsei, Department of Computer Science

Find out how performing arts and computer science students are teaming up to teach four interactive robots to dance. A new course offered through the Departments of Computer Science and Dance in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, aptly titled “Dancing Robots,” charges its eight students—seven undergraduate dance, computer science, and electrical engineering majors, and one performing arts graduate student—with choreographing a dance for the robots, then programming them to perform it. A video demo of the robots is available in this Iowa Now story: