Dr. Rob Smith Lands CAREER Grant to Improve Mass Spectrometry

Mass spectrometry is a technique used to identify the chemical makeup of a given sample, and University of Montana researcher Robert Smith just earned funding that may improve the process.

Smith, a UM computer science assistant professor, was awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation. He will receive $742,000 during the next five years.

CAREER grants are the most prestigious award for junior faculty, and this is the third one presented to a UM researcher this year.

UM researcher Robert Smith

UM researcher Robert Smith

“I am very excited for this award,” Smith said. “It provides the resources for the next phase of our research, which presents the possibility of dramatically advancing the field of mass spectrometry.”

Mass spectrometry has a broad range of applications of societal interest, including in medicine, forensics and basic biological sciences. Smith said his research develops new analysis techniques that allow mass spectrometry data to be used in ways that are not currently possible. This may lead to advances in fields like medical diagnostics, drug development and better research into poorly understood ailments involving proteins, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

He said mass spectrometry plays a role in many investigations because it can quantify and identify the major components – such as proteins, lipids, metabolites – of almost any cellular system.

His research develops a fundamentally different approach to mass spectrometry output signal analysis by:

  • Creating a different paradigm for mass spectrometry signal processing that segments the entire output file instead of extracting subregions of interest.
  • Showing that current methods are insufficient through a quantitative evaluation.
  • Enabling future research by capturing currently excluded low-abundance molecules.
  • Demonstrating how this new paradigm broadens future experimental possibilities with a novel correspondence approach built on the additional information provided by the proposed segmentation techniques.

Smith said a significant part of his plan involves outreach to Seeley-Swan High School, where researchers and teachers will team up to teach students problem-solving skills using computers in subjects such as chemistry, math and biology.

“With Robert receiving this award, we now have three CAREER grants this year, which matches 2009 – the last time we accomplished this scientific hat trick,” said Scott Whittenburg, UM vice president for research and creative scholarship. “It’s gratifying that the NSF is recognizing the amazing potential of our young research faculty members.”

Join us for Commencement

Please join us for Commencement this Saturday (May 14), to honor our newest crop of graduates, including Outstanding Seniors, Rebecca Faust and Andrea Johnson. Proceedings begin at 2 pm, in Social Science 352. We’ll be joined by speaker Mary Olson, IBM’s Senior State Executive for Montana and and past President of the Montana Council for Economic Education.

CS Spring Picnic

The 2016 CS Spring picnic was a hit. Photos of the event are “below the fold” …

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Greg Gianforte visits UM CS

Greg Gianforte visited the department on May 2. In his “lunchtime lecture”, he shared his sense of the history and future of computer science in Montana.

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Summer Camp: Game and Mobile Application Programming for High School Students

Another iteration of our popular camp series

Camp Description: Ready to have some fun programming?  Let’s create games and applications using Android, Alice, Code Combat, HTML5, Windows, Processing, Python and Java.  We will explore different programming languages and build games throughout this week long camp. Come join us this summer at the University of Montana for game programming!

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Dates: Aug 1st through Aug 5th from 9 am – 12 pm

Age Range: 9th grade through 12th grade

Contact: michael.cassens@mso.umt.edu

Phone: 406-370-1684

Price $185






Summer camp: Game and Mobile Application Programming for Middle School Students

Another iteration of our popular Camp series

[UPDATE 4/17: that camp is closed for new applications; all spots have been filled]

Camp Description: Interested in learning more about your computer, how to program games and mobile applications? Spend a week this summer with experts in the Computer Science Department at the University of Montana creating interactive apps and games for phones, tablets and more. Explore the world of computer programming and discover the exciting possibilities of this ever evolving technology.

Dates: July 25th – July 29th from 9 am – 4 pm

Age Range: 5th grade through 8th grade

Contact: michael.cassens@mso.umt.edu

Phone: 406-370-1684

Price $225

[UPDATE 4/17: that camp is closed for new applications; all spots have been filled]

Computer Science Lecturer Michael Cassens Wins Teaching Award

Michael Cassens was awarded the David B. Friend Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching, which is given to “recognize excellence in teaching by non-tenure-track faculty members teaching our introductory courses.” The award is competitively awarded for superior teaching at the fundamental (100-200) levels of the curriculum, student advising and mentoring (especially at the undergraduate level), and accessibility to students beyond normal office hours.

Michael has an impeccable record of superior teaching at the 100-200 levels over a twenty year period at UM. His teaching evaluations are consistently outstanding. He has created over a dozen courses for our department, many at the introductory level. We greatly appreciate his student advising activities, which result Cassens Michael 2013in consistent compliments from the student body.

Michael developed and launched an incredibly successful summer programming camp for middle- and high-school students that has filled to capacity since it’s 2012 inception, bringing computational experience to a broader community segment and driving a recruitment channel for UM and computer science. He has also been instrumental in our efforts to increase the number of women in computer science.

Congratulations to Michael on his selection for the award, and thanks to him from all of us for earning it!


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