2022-11-16: ODU CS 2022 Trick-or-Research Event Trip Report

The Department of Computer Science (CS) at Old Dominion University (ODU) held its fourth annual Trick-or-Research event on Monday, October 31, 2022. A hybrid approach was used for the lab tours this year. Participants were able to visit labs in the E.V. Williams Engineering & Computational Sciences Building (E&CSB) and Dragas Hall in addition to the virtual ones via the Gather.town platform. There were a total of 11 different ODU research labs participating in this year's event. A lot of preparation was required on their part went into making this another successful event. Each group decorated their virtual and physical labs, prepared posters, planned demonstrations, and even packed bags of candy!

Faculty, staff, and students showed off some awesomes costumes this year. We had martial arts experts, expert investigators, and a variety of animal species make their appearance at ODU. If you were not able to attend in person, perhaps you got a view of some of the interesting getups via a Gather.town video feed and/or saw some of the pictures shared via Twitter.

Hands-On Lab

The Hands-On lab participated in the fun again this year, sharing their exploration of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products for agitation detection in dementia patients. They also proudly presented their Hotspot Project, which aims to provide internet connectivity to students everywhere via authorized devices. Dr. Ajay Gupta established the lab and continues to lead it in this research and much more.


When not doubling as Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Jian Wu oversees research in the Lab for Applied Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing Systems (LAMP-SYS) lab. Virtual visitors to this lab were able to watch their presentations on entity extraction, mining electronic documents, and computational reproducibility. Participants attending in person had the opportunity to learn directly from Sherlock about the various cases that have been solved using machine and deep learning as well as the ones still under investigation.


The High Performance Scientific Computing Team for Efficient Research Simulations (HiPSTERS) lab shared its interdisciplinary research conducted using high-performance computations and novel mathematical methods. Their team was ready to share with event participants their scary decor as well as their impressive use of graphical processing unit (GPU) programming to support high-performance simulations of coherent synchrotron radiation and particle collider beam dynamics.

AI and Applications Lab

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Applications group, led by Dr. Yaohang Li, was more than happy to greet guests and delve into the details their innovative research and collaborations with Jefferson Lab. Visitors were able to learn more about their work and techniques for machine learning based physics event generation, particle production simulations, and other AI related research being conducted by their group.

Accessible Lab

The Accessible Computing lab participates in research to support users with limited abilities by improving their interactions with online applications and web browsing experiences. The members of the lab, led by Dr. Vikas Ashok, presented the group's work in this domain, with several efforts focused on making custom user interfaces and other improvements for visually impaired Internet users. The group was well prepared to answer any questions regarding their research that were posed by their lab guests.


The Web Science and Digital Libraries (WS-DL) lab made their presence known in building and in Gather.town. They presented their group's work to include data archiving, mining, and reproducibility in addition to WS-DL course offerings. Dr. Weigle and other members of the lab kept a decent sized crowd engaged during the event and were more than willing to answer the group's questions.

Bioinformatics Lab 

Dr. Jing He leads work in protein structure simulation, secondary structure elements detection, topology graphs, and potential energy functions as conducted in the Bioinformatics lab within ODU's CS department. The lab's virtual space in Gather.town offered videos and virtual displays to showcase the lab group's current research. Group members were eager to guide prospective students' and other visitors' exploration of the lab space and further discovery of bioinformatics and computational biology.


Several researchers within the Neuro Information Retrieval and Data Science (NIRDS) lab provided explanations and demonstrations of their application of various technologies, such as eye trackers and drones, to automate solutions to real world problems under the leadership of Dr. Jayarathna. The live demonstrations were supplemented by even more virtual demonstrations and posters found in the NIRDS Gather.town room.

Internet Security and Cybersecurity Labs

There were two virtual poster rooms in Gather.town. The first room provided a space for guests to learn more about ongoing research in Internet infrastructure and security issues as well as web security and cyber crime. These are areas of focus for the Internet Security Research lab led by Dr. Shuai Hao. Posters in the virtual room also documented progress in other Cybersecurity research, which includes hardware, web, cloud, blockchain, and cryptocurrency security.


Participants could find out more about Dr. Wang's Awesome Team of Students (WATS) and their lab's research in the second virtual poster room. The team's work centers around machine learning, data mining, and data science such as the use of neural ordinary differential equations (ODEs) for solving data modeling problems. Posters describing this and other WATS' research were shared with those touring the room during the event.


This year's hybrid format provided the opportunity for more in-person interaction and candy but also permitted those unable to be physically present to participate in the festivities. Faculty and students kept visitors engaged and shared a lot of great information regarding their ongoing research in the various labs, which students looking to pursue advanced degrees and/or participate in future research took advantage of. It also allowed the curious to discover just how innovative faculty and students in CS department at ODU are. We will be anxiously waiting to see how the department will outdo itself next October!

--Bathsheba Farrow (@sheissheba)