Inaugural Wes Graham Research Symposium & Computer Science Awards

Thursday, June 21, 2018 9:30 am - 3:30 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

The David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science is pleased to announce the inaugural Wes Graham Research Symposium & Computer Science Awards reception. The symposium takes its name from James Wesley (Wes) Graham, a humble visionary known as the father of computing at the University of Waterloo and an academic who devoted his career to making the magic of computers available to everyone. 

photo of Wes Graham

Wes Graham in the Red Room, the space in the centre of the Mathematics and Computer Building that housed an IBM 360/75, the most powerful computer in Canada in 1967 — a computing machine that Graham was instrumental in acquiring. 

In honour of his many contributions, the University of Waterloo established in 1994 the J.W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation, an award conferred annually to recognize individuals who have displayed leadership and have made innovative contributions to the University of Waterloo and the Canadian computer industry.

Wes Graham Research Symposium & Computer Science Awards

The celebration of Wes Graham’s legacy continues today with the inaugural Wes Graham Research Symposium & Computer Science Awards reception.

Starting in 2018, two computer science faculty members will be awarded a Wes Graham Research Fellowship to support research in artificial intelligence, data science and bioinformatics, including applications to healthcare and health informatics. As well, each year a Wes Graham Research Postdoctoral Fellowship will be awarded to an outstanding postdoctoral researcher.

Wes Graham Research Fellows

Professor Bin Ma
Inaugural Graham Research Fellow, 2017–20

photo of Professor Bin Ma
Professor Ma is a pioneering researcher who studies protein sequencing with mass spectrometry. PEAKS, a bioinformatics software application he developed, is used in more than one thousand research labs, including all major pharmaceutical companies. He has 140 publications that collectively have been cited more than 15,000 times. Professor Ma held a University Research Chair from 2008–2015, he received an Outstanding Young Computer Science Researcher Prize from CAC in 2010, the Premier’s Catalyst Award for Best Young Innovator in 2009, and was a Canada Research Chair from 2004–2008.

Professor Jesse Hoey
Inaugural Graham Research Fellow, 2017–19

photo of Professor Jesse Hoey
Professor Hoey’s research interests span a variety of fields from cognitive assistive technologies to help those with Alzheimer’s disease to computational social science and affective decision making under uncertainty.

Professor Hoey currently holds $1.2M in research funding and has received $2.7M in research funds over his career. He has received awards from the American Sociological Association, Microsoft, AAAI and the International Association for Pattern Recognition for his innovative reearch.

Wes Graham Research Postdoctoral Fellow

Moojan Ghafurian
​Inaugural Graham Postdoctoral Fellow

photo of Moojan Ghafurian
Moojan Ghafurian has a PhD in information sciences and technology from Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests and background are in human-computer interaction, cognitive science and artificial intelligence.

Her expertise includes designing and running behavioural experiments with human subjects and qualitative and quantitative research to understand human behaviour, emotions and biases. Her research explores computational models of how humans interact with computers to inform user-centred design that is applied to assistive technologies for the care of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

Time Event, description and room
9:30 a.m.

Morning Refreshments (DC 1302)

9:40 a.m.

Welcome and Opening Remarks (DC 1302)
Mark Giesbrecht
Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo

9:45 a.m.

Greeting from the Faculty (DC 1302)
Raouf Boutaba
Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo

9:50 a.m.

A Word from the Trustees (DC 1302)
Don Cowan
Co-Founder, J. Wes Graham Trust

10:00 a.m.

Building Assistive Technologies with Computational Emotional Intelligence (DC 1302)
Jesse Hoey, Inaugural Graham Research Fellow, 2017–2019
University of Waterloo

Artificially intelligent assistive technologies promise to alleviate some of the increasing burden of care for persons with age-related cognitive disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease. However, despite tremendous progress, many attempts to develop and implement real-world applications have failed to become widely adopted. In this talk, I will argue that a key barrier to the adoption of these technologies is a lack of alignment, on a social and emotional level, between the technology and its users. I will then introduce a possible solution to this problem based in a social-psychological theory of culturally shared affective meanings as consistency heuristics that guide human action. These affective heuristics can be used to predict human reactions in practice, and therefore to produce more emotionally aligned artificially intelligent systems. I will give an introduction to this theory, and will discuss how affective reasoning could be used to create truly adaptive assistive technologies. 

11:00 a.m.

Impatience in Humans’ Timing Decisions: The Trade-off between Duration Perception and Recall (DC 1302)
Moojan Ghafurian, Inaugural Graham Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Waterloo

Decisions about when to act are critical in many real-life situations. Examples include healthcare, safety and security situations, where acting early or late can result in substantial costs or losses. These types of decisions are dynamic and are mostly made under uncertainty. I propose impatience induced by delays as a bias affecting timing decisions and show that it can be successfully manipulated and moderated. I will discuss how impatience affects timing decisions, suggest a simple approach to manipulate and moderate it, and show that there are trade-offs between delay perception and delay recall. I will then discuss the implications of these findings for user-interface design.

11:30 a.m Lunch (DC 1301 • Fishbowl)
Registration required to attend the lunch
12:30 p.m.

Decode Cancer and Immunity-related Proteins through Computation and Mass Spectrometry (DC 1302)
Professor Bin Ma, Inaugural Graham Research Fellow, 2017–2020
University of Waterloo

Our immune systems produce a special class of proteins called antibodies. Antibodies play a key role in the body’s defences to fight infection and diseases including cancer. The abnormality of the immune system may lead to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Engineered antibodies have also been used as drugs to provide targeted therapy for cancers. A critical need in the study of antibodies is to read out the order of amino acids of the protein (a.k.a protein sequencing). This used to be a labour-intensive task and not always successful. Recently, we developed a new method that combines computation with mass spectrometry to sequence the antibody proteins. Our method for the first time enabled high-throughput routine antibody protein sequencing. Equipped with this method, we are also exploring the application of the method in the detection of a specific blood cancer.

1:30 p.m.

2018 CS Awards Presentation and Reception (DC 1301 • Fishbowl)
Mark Giesbrecht, Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science & George Labahn, Professor, Cheriton School of Computer Science

CS award recipients (PDF)