2021-11-18: ODU CS 2021 Trick-or-Research Event Trip Report

The Department of Computer Science (CS) at Old Dominion University (ODU) held its 3rd Trick-or-Research event, which was organized by Dr. Sampath and his goblins in the NIRDS lab.  This year, the event was held virtually via the Gather platform.  

Different groups and labs in the CS department customized their own rooms in Gather.town with demos and posters surrounded by spooky décor.  Attendees created their own avatars before venturing out to explore the town.  Some physically dressed for the occasion while others took advantage of a virtual wardrobe courtesy of Snap Camera.  

The Gather.town virtual platform was a great choice for this event.  It allowed users to see only those individuals in the same room and allowed avatars in close range to have natural conversations via video chat.  I will tell you more about my own adventure through the different locations in Gather.town and what you missed.

Hands-On Room

If you were able to make it past Pennywise, you would have had the opportunity to meet the HandsOn research lab's team in their room.  You could also learn about the Hotspot Project and more through presentations and posters made available by the group.


The Lab for Applied Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing Systems (LAMP-SYS) room was not one to miss.  Dr. Jian Wu was there and ready to greet visitors who wanted to know more about his research in scholarly big data, applied machine learning, natural language processing, and information retrieval.

AI and Applications Room

Dr. Yaohang Li ensured that the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Applications research group was well represented during the Trick-or-Research event.   Many students visited their room to view the posters and/or socialize with those that shared common interests.


The High Performance Scientific Computing Team for Efficient Research Simulations (HiPSTERS) team were ready to invite visitors into their room during the Trick-or-Research event.  They provided a presentation to introduce guests to HiPSTERS research, information on travel opportunities, and interactive stations.

Accessible Room

Dr. Ashok and graduate students in the Accessible Computing Group were accessible during this year's Trick-or-Research event.  They talked with students who visited the room and were available to answer questions regarding their research, poster displays, and/or presentations.

Bioinformatics Room

The Bioinformatics lab, led by Dr. Jing He, shared posters related to their research centered around computational biology and bioinformatics.  Visitors who wanted to know more about the lab could visit the virtual sign-up table.

WS-DL Room 

If you stopped by the Web Science & Digital Libraries (WS-DL) group's room, you would have found all of the cool kids in the alumni section with Dr. Nelson and Dr. Weigle.  There were also several posters from which you could find out more about topics like using cloud computing to analyze past web pages.  On the other side of the room, in addition to the virtual desserts like your mummy used to make, you could find out about graduate level Spring 2022 CS courses. 


Students from the Neuro Information Retrieval and Data Science (NIRDS) lab shared posters and presentations of their streaming hub and eye tracking research.  Dr. Jayarathna was also present as not only the leader of the NIRDS lab but also the organizer of the event.

Data Mining and Nanocomputing Room

Our newest faculty, Dr. Lusi Li and Dr. Yi He, were found in the Data Mining and Nanocomputing Room.  They shared details of their interests in data mining, machine learning, optimization theory.  They also shared posters associated with their work like the one for their paper on Interpretable Minority Synthesis for Imbalanced Classification, which was presented at International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (JACAI) 2021 conference.

Internet Security and WATS Lab -+Room

The Internet Security and WATS lab room was not one to miss.  Attendees could find out more about work in internet routing, underground business, and internet censorship within the Internet Security Research lab led by Dr. Shuai Hao.  This room had even more to offer with details of the work performed in the WATS lab by Dr.  Fengjiao Wang and her student, Morteza Mohammady Gharasuie, on recommendation systems.


The ODU CS Trick-or-Research event this year was frightfully successful with a lot of positive feedback from students and staff.  The Gather platform made it very easy for students to view content as well as have social interaction with other attendees and presenters.  That makes great events three years in a row.  If you missed it, you will definitely want to mark your calendars for next year! 

--Bathsheba Farrow (@sheissheba)