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Binghamton University graduate students showcase multidisciplinary research

Research focuses on engineering, probability and cultural studies

From cultural studies to engineering, some of Binghamton University’s graduate student researchers shared the results of their work with the student body.

Attendees gathered in the Mandela Room on Tuesday for a display of graduate student research across campus titled “Journey Across Disciplines.”

The most heavily represented department was electrical and computer engineering, but graduate students from anthropology, history, biology, Asian and Asian American studies and education also presented research on a variety of topics, from the study of speech problems in children to big data analysis.

Roozbeh Sadeghian, a graduate student studying electrical engineering, developed a system in which one is able to recognize speech problems in young children that would normally require the diagnosis of a professionally trained therapist. Using sound recordings of children speaking, the program can determine whether a child would benefit from intervention and speech therapy.

“We can prevent these articulation problems if we recognize them in the early ages — from about three to 10 [years old],” Sadeghian said.

The model has proven successful so far — 88.6 percent of the time it can recognize diagnosed articulation issues in a child’s voice.

Bingwei Liu’s research involved a very large volume of a common form of data — movie reviews. Liu and his colleagues tested the ability of a certain statistical technique, called the Naive Bayes classifier, to determine whether a movie review was positive or negative, based only on the frequency of words that appear in that review as compared to other reviews.

The experiment produced an 82 percent accuracy rating, meaning that the program could guess whether a review was positive or negative the vast majority of the time.

Several students represented the Graduate School of Education. Doctoral candidates Gail Musante, Margot Parsons and Nancy Barno Reynolds discussed their work in education.

Parsons, who works as a special education teacher in the Blue Ridge School District, presented her approach to teaching self-evaluation and problem-solving to grade-school children. Her program, called The Power Center, attempts to provide a positive alternative to punishment time-outs by teaching students to make decisions on their own and trust those decisions. Parsons’ process involves letting kids make their own choices, trying not to be instructional and instead relying on the kids to make their own decisions by teaching them about their own behavioral cues.

“It gives autonomy back to the kids,” Parsons said. “Students who exhibit emotional and behavioral problems need to be empowered to make these decisions on their own.”

According to Parsons, her research on The Power Center has resulted in a reduction in disciplinary referrals and an increase in time students spend in an inclusive classroom setting.

Other presenters focused on the natural sciences. Wai Yee Fung, a graduate student studying biology, examined the prevalence of anaplasmosis in ticks in the Southern Tier to determine if the local population is at risk of contracting this disease.

Anaplasmosis is a tick-borne disease that has variants that can potentially be transferred to humans, similar to Lyme disease. Under the advisement of professor of anthropology Ralph Garruto, Fung studied the ailment by capturing ticks in the area and testing them for both types of the disease — the type that can infect humans, and the type that cannot. According to Fung, the closest reported case of the human type of anaplasmosis was in Pennsylvania, approximately three hours away from Binghamton

“Luckily, we found no cases of the human version of anaplasmosis in any of the ticks we tested in Broome or Chenango counties,” Fung said.

The event was hosted by the Graduate Student Collective, which is an umbrella group of organizations such as the Graduate Women’s Association, Graduate Student Employees Union, the Parents Collective and the Graduate Student Organization.