Research Interests

Model-Driven Software Engineering
Autonomic Computing
Cloud Computing
Affective Computing
STEM Education
Mobile Intelligent Agents - Drones in Swarms
Software Testing

Funding and Awards

Office of Sponsored Research - Research and Creativity Award (RCA) $19K for 1 year
Awarded access and use of high performance computing cluster by the Hasso-Plattner-Institut to perform work on massively parallel system coordination applied to autonomous UV swarms.

University of Michigan- Ann Arbor - National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID). Title: Assessing the Relationship Between Early Mathematics Preparation and Subsequent STEM Performance for Middle School Girls in Michigan. $3K
Role: PI Co-Pi: Julie Ma PhD

Under Submission National Science Foundation – DRK-12 Collaborative: RUI Exploratory: Learning Strand: $450K A Gender-Aware Gamified Scaffolding of Mathematics for the Middle School Level Collaboration with WSSU.

Under Revision National Science Foundation – Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources (IUSE: EHR) $300K
Title: A Community Aware Virtual Learning Infrastructure for STEM Education
Role : PI Collaboration with FIU


National Science Foundation – Computing and Core Foundations $500,000
Title: SHF: Small: Collaborative Research: A Generic Model of Execution for Domain-Specific Models
Role PI. Collaboration with Drs Allen and Morris at Georgia Southern and Temple Universities
- $150K.
Title: Mapping Critical Data for Flint Water Crisis.

Role: PI Collaboration with Dr Abernathy in UM - Ann Arbor and Google Personnel

Office of Sponsored Research - Research and Creativity Award (RCA) $11,157 for 1 year

Michigan Campus Compact and Michigan Nonprofit Association - $5000
Project Title: “An Exploration of Inhibitors to Educational Access and Retention within Michigan's Underrepresented Group’s STEM Higher Education”

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) $1500 for 2 terms
Funding for undergraduate student to assist in research projects Fall 2014, Winter 2015

UM-Flint Graduate Student Research Assistance program (GSRA) $4500 for 2 terms
Funding for graduate student to assist in research projects Fall 2014, Winter 2015

Office of Sponsored Research - Research and Creativity Award (RCA) $14,487 for 1 year

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) under project number UR228

Community Outreach

Our group develops software for nonprofit organizations in the Flint area. The project will target and address real and substantial needs.

Outreach Projects

In concert with Google and UM -Ann Arbor (Dr Abernathy and the Michigan data science team) the development of the Mywater-Flint software platform as Principal Investigator. See web app MyWater-Flint or details for Android Phones. IOS version has been developed and awaiting deployment. The generic platform source and documentation is available upon request to Municipalities with similar issues.

This work has been featured in :
ABC News
Google Zeitgeist Conference
The Associated Press
Christian Science Monitor

Early H2OFlint Android App


Click Image to Download early h20flint App

Students: Phil Boyd, John Collins and Miyako Jones

My Graduate Student Miyako is a Global citizen based on her outstanding effort with this project.


Research Projects

Self-Adaptive Model-Based Control of Cyber-Physical Systems
Target Application 1: Microgrid Energy Management

Target Application 2: Cloud Infrastructure

Background on Microgrids: The changes in energy consumption patterns are being dictated by rising energy costs and higher demand. These changes manifest themselves as additional requirements of the legacy electrical grid. The United States Department of Energy and similar entities across the globe have been tasked to upgrade the single largest interconnected machine on the planet, the electrical grid. The existing grid, heavily reliant on fossil fuels, has effectively remained unchanged since the early twentieth century and is reaching its functional limits. The smart grid is seen as the successor to the legacy grid. A core component central to realizing the smart grid concept is the microgrid.
Microgrids are atomic self contained energy grids which conceptually should monitor their consumption and co-generate their own power. As such, microgrids may operate in grid connected or in off grid mode. The ability to operate in isolation of the macrogrid requires Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) which constitutes Distributed Storage(DS) and Distributed Generation (DG). DERs provide the ability to leverage renewable energy efficient technologies to flatten peaks in consumption by infusing DERs at intervals of high consumption. With the advent of this conceptual model, consumers may set energy use policies leading to an increased awareness, consumer participation, and eventually a limitation on peak usage.
The impact of microgrids is a key aspect to realizing the goals of the smartgrid. There has been significant effort in the research community to address energy management within the microgrid domain. A prominent definition and the one our work is based on is the CERTS microgrid concept (CM). Distributed energy management is a paramount concern. Our research targets increasing robustness, normalizing quality of service, and reducing communication traffic within the microgrid using model transformation and synthesis.
See Mgrid on this website.

a) Autonomous Behavior of Swarms of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (mini-drones) for Cooperative Hunting. (Hunting is a variation of searching whereby the targets has an implicit goal to avoid detection).
This technology employs sigmoid threshold probabilistic state machines to define swarm behavior in a bottom up manner. Threshold parameters are defined utilizing a genetic algorithm to evolve non-scripted complex behaviors.
b) Application of a Swarm of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles to IdentifyInvasive Species in the Great Lakes.
This project relies on, and tests the theoretical groundings in (a) as it investigates challenges pertaining to sensing and communication underwater. This application context allows us to maintain generality of the swarm behavior algorithms. Working in conjunction with Dr M Robinson of University of Texas - Tyler

Figure 1. Mobile Sensor Platform using AUV swarm concept (Illustration curtesy of Fuller Designs of Owosso MI)

Expressive Embodied Conversational Agents
Target Application: Augmenting PTSD Therapy
Target Application: Augmenting Grief Counseling
Target Application: Modeling Deception

Background on EECAs: Expressive Embodied Conversational Agents (EECA) are a subset of Human Computer Interfaces (HCIs) which seeks the development of a more natural means to transfer information and the internal affective state between humans and machines The transference of internal affective state is critical to effective communication. The inclusion of affect in agent design represents a paradigm shift recognizing the intricate binding of affect to social intelligence. The works of Reeves and Nass (Reeves and Nass, 1998) and subsequently (Nass, 2000), demonstrates that humans tend to transfer expectations and social rules towards a virtual agent. As such, inherent within EECAs are an effective means by which a machine may communicate a concept, idea or strategy due to the ability to additionally employ non-verbal means. Research supports the necessity of an EECA to credibly portray non-verbal behavior to increase engagement (Cowell and Stanney, 2005) . While affective agent design as a discipline is relatively new, tremendous advances have been made. These advances, however significant, still lacks much of the credibility and engagement inherent in the ideal model, the human being. The aim of this research is to advance the model of the virtual agent in its role of HCI by introducing non cognitive emotion regulation.
See EMO on this website.

Control Systems for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) in a Swarm Environment
Target Applications: Search and Rescue, Hunting

(Search and Rescue assumes a stationary or even cooperative target. In Hunting the target moves and attempts to avoid recognition)

Great Resources for the Young Researcher

Getting Started With Your Research

Begin with a Systematic Literature Review (SLR)

One definition that I like is:
“A means of identifying, evaluating and interpreting all available research relevant to a particular research question, or topic area, or phenomenon of interest.” -Kitchenham,2004

The purpose of a SLR is:
To summarize the existing evidence concerning a methodology or technology
To identify any gaps in current research
To provide a framework/background in order to appropriately position new research activities
To examine the extent to which empirical evidence supports/contradicts theoretical hypotheses

A SLR process revolves around the research questions.
The search process must identify primary studies that address the research questions
The data extraction process must extract the data items needed to answer the questions
The data analysis process must synthesize the data in such a way that the questions can be answered

The review protocol specifies the methods that will be used to undertake a specific systematic review, and includes:

1. Gathering background info
2. identifying the research questions to be answered
3. Formulating the strategy that will be used to search for primary studies including search terms and resources to be searched
4. study selection (and exclusion) criteria and procedures
5. study quality assessment checklists and procedures
6. data extraction strategy
7. synthesis of the extracted data
8. dissemination strategy - Go forth and publish!

The protocol must be refined in an iterative process that may involve piloting and validation