1st Quarter 2018, Volume 30
Message from the Director
Spring 2018 has been an active period for our VACCINE team members. Dr. Louis Ngamassi has been building his program at Prairie View A&M with his new DHS SLA grant, interactions with partners continue to produce significant impacts on community safety and agency effectiveness, and our visual analytics work has expanded in many directions. While continuing to focus on public safety and security, we have also expanded our work in sustainability and precision agriculture that aims to increase community and national sustainability and resiliency.  As VACCINE continues as an emeritus COE, we continue to explore new avenues to apply the research and techniques we have developed to new applications for greater impact, as well as exploring new research challenges in visual analytics for safety and security. Some highlights of these activities are described below. 

I’d also like to congratulate Dr. Chittayong (Jao) Surakitbanharn on his new appointment as Executive Director of the Urban Resilience Initiative at Stanford University. Jao was a valuable member of our team for over a year and has recently begun this exciting opportunity at Stanford.


VACCINE applies Visual Analytics to help relate plant genotype to phenotype

VACCINE has been collaborating with the Purdue University Agronomy Department on the Terra Project. (  On Feb. 5, the Agronomy Department had an ARPA-E site visit (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy). During their visit, all Principal Investigators presented the status of their research work and milestones that have been achieved. Dr. Ebert presented our visual analytics tool ( and demonstrated how it allows plant scientists to discover the similarity between sorghum hybrids using phenotyping traits, as well as introducing a web-based visualization tool to demonstrate the traits in high-resolution orthophotos. VACCINE Ph.D. student Jieqiong Zhao leads the research and development of these tools.
Presentation at the 51st Hawaii International Conference on System Science (HICSS-51)
On Jan. 5th, 2018, our Ph.D. student Calvin Yau presented the paper "A Multi-Scale Correlative Approach for Crowd-Sourced Multi-Variate Spatiotemporal Data" at the 51st Hawaii International Conference on System Science (HICSS-51) at Waikoloa Village, HI. The paper was accepted by the Digital & Social Media track, and the Collective Intelligence & Crowds mini track. The paper presents a visual analytic approach and an interactive system to present sounds recorded and uploaded through a mobile app from the different corners of the globe and the correlation between different attributes of these recordings. Dr. Ebert and Dr. Kelly Gaither, (U. Texas VACCINE team member), also taught a tutorial on visual analytics and visualization for big data. 
Dr. Ebert presents on visualization and visual analytics
CrimeWatcher deployed to Purdue PD and Lafayette PD

José de Queiroz, our visiting scholar from Brazil, is developing a visual analytics solution for tracking and forecasting crimes, in an initiative involving the Federal University of Ceará, the Police Department of Ceará State, and the VACCINE Lab.  José joined the VACCINE team in 2017, for a one-year period, to both collaborate on VACCINE's projects and improve the crime analysis system. He is providing PUPD his visual analytics tool 'CrimeWatcher' to visualize the spatiotemporal crime patterns to assist in patrol scheduling. The Purdue Police Department and the Lafayette Police Department are currently evaluating the system and giving end-user feedback.
       José presenting to the Lafayette Police Department
 José presenting to the Purdue Police Department

SMART (Social Media Analytics and Reporting Toolkit) Updates   

SMART development and deployment continues with our partnership with DaVista Technologies and Dr. Abish Malik and numerous security and safety agencies across the country. Recent highlights of SMART usage are below
  • VACCINE supported federal security efforts in using the SMART software during the 2018 State of the Union. SMART was used to search for potentially threatening Twitter and Instagram posts in the Washington DC area on January 30.
  • Purdue Police Department used SMART to monitor social media in the days following the display of threatening banners at a church in West Lafayette.
  • At the end of March, VACCINE and DaVista LLC conducted meetings for subject matter experts in Washington DC and in Indiana to gain feedback about requirements for social media analytics. The meetings support the DHS First Responder Group grant to develop SMART from a research version into a commercially available version for first responders across the nation.
Jiawei Zhang receives Honorable Mention (top 5% of submissions) for his paper at ACM CHI
Jiawei Zhang, a Ph.D. student in the VACCINE lab, had a paper accepted to the Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2018 (conference link: The title of the paper is "TopoText: Context-Preserving Text Data Exploration Across Multiple Spatial Scales." The paper presents novel text-based visualization techniques that reveal social media topics at multiple spatial scales. The proposed techniques can potentially be applied in both a static authoring process and an interactive exploratory environment. He presented this paper on April 26, 2018, in Montreal, Canada.
Prairie View A&M University Visual Analytics program for Disaster Management

Dr. Ngamassi is the recipient of a DHS Scientific Leadership Award, which is currently supporting the study of how minority communities in the Houston area adopt and utilize information during disasters. The recent unprecedented flooding during Hurricane Harvey makes this study particularly timely. VACCINE hopes to use the research findings to better serve all members of the community during natural disasters and emergency events. VACCINE Research Scientist, Dr. Chittayong (Jao) Surakitbanharn, had the opportunity to visit Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) to further our collaboration with Dr. Louis Ngamassi and his colleagues about the use of social media in disaster management.
Congratulations to Dr. Louis Ngamassi

VACCINE would like to congratulate Dr. Louis Ngamassi on receiving tenure at Prairie View A&M’s College of Business this spring! Dr. Ngamassi has been an active VACCINE team member over the past 5 years, focusing on disaster management and social media.

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