BEACON is strongly interested and involved in international research collaborations. While BEACON cannot export research funding abroad, BEACONites can participate in collaborative projects, with work in the U.S. funded by BEACON in collaboration with work funded from other sources in other countries. BEACON can also bring international researchers to BEACON for visits to further such programs.

Examples of BEACON’s international research projects

New Funding Received for Joint Research Center of Evolutionary Intelligence and Robotics

In January, 2016, we were notified that the Guangdong Provincial Government had funded our joint proposal to establish the Joint Research Center of Evolutionary Intelligence and Robotics. The new center is headquartered at Shantou Technical University (STU), Shantou, Guangdong Province, China. The partners in the new center are BEACON, the STU Center of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (STU-CAIRO), and the Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Digital Signal and Image Processing, also headquartered at STU. Funding of about US$300,000 will support travel and visits for Center participants from China to BEACON HQ and vice versa. This new funding results from a collaborative research agreement signed in 2014 between these centers. BEACON Director Erik Goodman visited the team at Shantou University in 2014 and 2015, and in 2016, visited Shantou University, gave a keynote address at a conference in Foshan (near Guangzhou), then met with collaborators at Guangzhou University of Technology. He plans to visit Shanghai, Beijing, Shantou and Guangzhou again in November, 2017 to work with collaborators in all of those cities.

2014-07-15 10.16.14Prof. Zhun Fan (left), who received his Ph.D. at Michigan State University working with Prof. Goodman, was named as the Director of the new Joint Center. Profs. Fan and Goodman have collaborated on design of mechatronic systems using bond graphs and genetic programming since Fan’s graduate student days at MSU and during his time on the faculty of the Technical University of Denmark.

BEACON researchers pursue land use management research with visitor from Switzerland’s ETH Zürich

Beginning in fall, 2015, Profs. Kalyanmoy Deb and Erik Goodman began working with Visiting Scholar Jonas Schwaab, a Ph.D. student from ETH Zürich. Mr. Schwaab is using multi-objective decision making methods to address a data-driven problem in planning of urban development in a particular region in Switzerland. The primary focus is to show which land-use policies can help us to get close to Pareto optimal solutions and how they can be adapted in order to not only get close, but to reach Pareto optimal solutions. This will be accomplished by using an evolutionary multi-objective optimization algorithm to find a Pareto Front and by using statistical models to simulate the influence of land-use policy instruments on land use.

China’s Greenhouses of the Future—Evolutionary Controls to Lower Environmental/Economic Costs

China has ambitious plans to design and build a new generation of greenhouses, helping to supply its year-round needs for fresh vegetables in a way that is economically viable and environmentally friendly. Several projects have been funded under the leadership of Prof. Lihong Xu, by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and under China’s Twelfth Five-Year Plan, which now includes this BEACON collaboration. Prof. Xu spends a part of each year in residence at BEACON, and several of his students have also been visiting scholars in BEACON, working with Prof. Erik Goodman, BEACON’s Director, and Prof. Erik Runkle, Department of Horticulture, MSU. BEACON graduate student Jose Llera-Ortiz is now working  to develop a sophisticated model of the greenhouse internal environment and a crop model, which are both needed to enable implementing the “Multi-Objective Compatible Controller,” the evolutionary methodology that the team has been developing. Data from a large experimental greenhouse on Chongming Island, near Shanghai, have recently become available, allowing parameterization and validation of the model and controller.  Mr. Llera-Ortiz and Profs. Runkle and Goodman visited Tongji University and the greenhouse at Chongming Island in November, 2015 and had discussions with many of the Chinese team members, including especially Mr. Yuanping Su, a Ph.D. student developing a reduced-state model of the greenhouse/plant system. Goodman and Llera-Ortiz visited again in 2016, and Goodman plans to travel to China again in November, 2017, in a trip including visits to collaborators Shanghai, Beijing, Shantou and Guangzhou.



Evolutionary Algorithms for Enhanced Ultra-Wideband Microwave Imaging of Breast Cancer Tumors

BEACON Electrical Engineering Ph.D. student and NSF fellowship winner Blair Fleet

Under the leadership of Prof. Meng Yao, of East China Normal University (Shanghai, China), who is visiting in BEACON for part of each year under funding from his grants, a BEACON team, including Profs. Jack Deller and Erik Goodman and graduate student Blair Fleet, is working on generating images from the microwave data collected by Prof. Yao’s team at ECNU and Shanghai’s First People’s Hospital. Microwave imaging of tumors in breast tissue is difficult because microwaves do not normally penetrate deep into the tissue and reflect at levels that are easily resolved. However, a novel antenna design that matches the impedance at the skin boundary enables better penetration, and a frequency-stepping pulse sequence allows the depth of reflections due to changes in dielectric constant to be determined. The signal-to-noise ratio is low, however, so the plan is to use evolutionary algorithms to find suitable classifiers to enhance the tumor images in a way that is useful for diagnosis. BEACON Ph.D. student Blair Fleet, who won an NSF Graduate Fellowship to continue this work, is first constructing models of the signal propagation and reflection in the breast tissue, then will use those models for initial exploration of possible schemes for distinguishing cancerous tissue from normal tissue and tissue containing abnormal but non-cancerous structures. Two other BEACON graduate students are working as part of this team: Jinyao Yan and Pedro Nariyoshi, both of whom are tackling signal processing problems related to the project.

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