Dr. Shan Suthaharan
In the process of making our lives simpler, electronic devices also act as storage files, compiling massive amounts of information on a seemingly endless array of topics: Purchases, health charts, browsing histories, and even electricity usage are documented in technical records. For UNC Greensboro’s Dr. Shan Suthaharan, there is gold in this data, and with funds from his 2019 UNCG Faculty First Award, Suthaharan continues to further the capabilities of data-collecting machines.
“In this current era, data is everywhere, leading to big data problems,” stated Suthaharan. “Machine learning is the main intelligent technique that provides promising results to these problems.”
Suthaharan started at UNCG in 2001 as an assistant professor. He served as the director of undergraduate studies for more than a decade, and in 2014, he was promoted to the rank of professor. While advancing his career at the University, Suthaharan has also remained steadfast in his research and contributions to a concept he calls “transformative knowledge discovery,” a notion which includes developing machine learning models that function like master keys.
“You want to make the machine smarter,” stated Suthaharan. “And you want the model to work across multiple disciplines and domains.”
Although computers have the knowledge to quickly survey large datasets and find concealed patterns, these discoveries often tackle specific problems while disregarding a lot of usable information that could improve society, businesses, and even human behavior.
One of Suthaharan’s main interests is figuring out how to train computers to intelligently deal with very different kinds of data and still find meaningful connections. He is currently working on a variety of projects — from using eye images to detect retinal diseases to classifying vegetables and fruits according to nutrition content. Suthaharan is also working on machine learning techniques that consider privacy by teaching computers to weigh security concerns while searching for useful insights.
Since starting at UNCG, Suthaharan has earned a plethora of University awards; a Visiting Scholar Award from the University of California, Berkeley; a Visiting Faculty Fellowship from Emory University; an International Visiting Research Fellowship from the University of Sydney, Australia; and a Visiting Research Professor Award from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPMC). He also authored Springer’s 2016 “Machine Learning Models and Big Data Classification” and has been appointed a distinguished speaker by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
The funds from Suthaharan’s Faculty First Award have been a great aid in pushing his agenda.
“This award aided my research, which is in a state-of-the-art discipline,” said Suthaharan. “Hence, understanding this difficult problem is important, and it will also help our students to advance in this research area.”
Story by Brittany Cameron, Donor Relations
Information and image courtesy of UNCG Research Magazine
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