CSUSB student only one from California to present research to Congress


Kenneth Williams, a computer science major at Cal State San Bernardino, was one of 74 undergraduate students selected out of 850 applicants who presented their research to members of Congress at the 2012 Posters on the Hill on April 23-24 in Washington, D.C.

Kenneth Williams

Kenneth Williams, a CSUSB computer science major, was one of 74 undergraduate students selected out of 850 applicants who presented their research to members of Congress at the 2012 Posters on the Hill on April 23-24 in Washington, D.C.

Williams, 23, a senior who lives in Twentynine Palms, has another distinction besides being chosen for the prestigious honor. He was the only student from the entire state of California who talked to members of Congress on the type of research that students conduct and the importance of research activities to their educational experience and career advancement.

The event marked the 16th annual undergraduate poster session at Capitol Hill held by the Council on Undergraduate Research. The session was designed to help members of Congress understand the importance of undergraduate research by talking directly with the students whom these programs impact, said Jeffery Thompson, a CSUSB professor of biology and the university’s associate provost for research.

“Nothing more effectively demonstrates the value of undergraduate research than the words and stories of the student participants themselves,” Thompson said.

Williams, who will graduate in June, said he was pleased to be chosen for the honor. “It felt good, but I didn’t realize its significance until the associate provost (Thompson) introduced me to other people telling them of my award,” he said.

Arturo Concepcion, a CSUSB professor of computer science, described Williams as “an ideal student who loves to do research and the work that goes into it.”

Concepcion said Williams’ research was on the development of Botanicam, an application for hand-held mobile devices that helps plant biologists develop a database of plant images and characteristics that will allow an individual to identify an unknown plant by taking a picture on their smart-phone or other device and sending the information to the database service. The Botanicam will then send the user the identification and other information for that specific plant.

Williams’ project was also a collaboration with professor B.S. Manjunath, director of the Center for Bio-Image Informatics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and center researcher Golnaz Abdollahian.

The application was developed last summer during an eight-week internship at the UC Santa Barbara center, Concepcion said. Williams also worked on a CSUSB computer science project that developed the CSUSB mobile application, which is listed in the Google Play store and iTunes store, with an application for the Windows phone soon to follow.

Williams is also a student from CSUSB’s CoyoteCareers program, which targets Hispanic and other low-income students in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math – and select foreign languages. He is also in the Workability IV program and interviewed for the Workforce Recruitment Program last year, but instead opted to do the internship program at UC Santa Barbara. He is also scheduled to do an internship at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.

After graduation, Williams plans to pursue his master’s degree in computer science at CSUSB and then a doctorate in computer science with the ultimate plan of becoming a professor.

The Posters on the Hill event will have two student presentation sessions, a luncheon panel and poster session for arts and humanities students, and an evening poster session and reception for science and social science students.

The Council on Undergraduate Research, founded in 1978, is a national organization of individual and institutional members representing over 900 colleges and universities who focus on providing undergraduate research opportunities for faculty and students at all institutions serving graduate students.

The council believes that faculty members enhance their teaching and contribution to society by remaining active in research and by involving undergraduates in research. The council’s leadership works with agencies and foundations to enhance research opportunities for faculty and students.

The association also assists administrators and faculty members in improving and assessing the research environment at their institutions. The council also provides information on the importance of undergraduate research to state legislatures, private foundations, government agencies and the U.S. Congress.

To see a list of the 2012 posters research posters, visit Council on Undergraduate Research poster Web page.

Visit the Council on Undergraduate Research for more information.

For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.