N.C. A&T saw its first doctoral student participate in the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF), hosted this past September in Heidelberg, Germany. Janelle Mason, a native of Charlottesville, Virginia received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from A&T, and is in her third year of a doctoral program in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering. Mason’s doctoral advisor is Dr. Albert Esterline, and her committee members include Drs. Xiaohong (Dorothy) Yuan, Mohd Anwar, Kaushik Roy and Gina Bullock.
The HLF is a global networking conference, where 200 carefully-selected student researchers from universities around the world, studying mathematics and computer science, spend a week interacting with “laureates”, the numerous career professionals who have received the most prestigious awards in mathematics and computer science (the Abel Prize, the ACM A.M. Turing Award, the ACM Prize in Computing, the Fields Medal and the Nevanlinna Prize).
The week-long program blended both scientific and social program elements, and was designed to initiate exchange among the participants, young and old. The laureates gave lectures on subjects of their choosing, which were primarily directed at the young researchers who were participating. Those lectures were the starting point of intense discussions between the laureates and the young researchers, seeking to motivate and inspire the next generation of researchers in their respective disciplines (computer science and mathematics).
“This was a phenomenal life-changing experience!” admits Mason. “I was honored to be selected to attend this renowned event. When I arrived and met the other members of my cohort, and the laureates, I knew this experience would affect the trajectory of my research and scholarship.” Mason’s doctoral work includes a computational framework for identity in the interdisciplinary fields of cybersecurity and criminal justice. She is using biometric information, such as fingerprints and blood markers in addition to camera footage and witness testimony, to discover the probability of proximity and potential culprit(s) involvement in a crime.
The 7th annual HLF took place from September 22–27, 2019, and had the most robust scientific program to date, including panels that addressed fundamental issues for science and humanity at large. The Hot Topic for this year’s program was Climate Crisis: Facts and Actions, The Science of Climate Change and What We Can Do to Tackle the Problem. Twenty-three laureates of mathematics and computer science spent the week interacting with the dynamic young researchers in Heidelberg, Germany.