UWF Students Showcase Research

Pensacola – Months of research were on display Oct. 10 when the University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity hosted a showcase to highlight projects by undergraduate and graduate students.

“UWF undergraduate and graduate students engage in research projects under the guidance of faculty mentors to enhance their career preparedness and give students valuable experience in solving real-world problems,” said Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, director of the Center for Cybersecurity and a professor of computer science.

Students presented a variety of research projects at the showcase on topics including information security and privacy, wearable device security, cloud security, and machine learning, El-Sheikh said. The showcase featured presentations by UWF students majoring in cybersecurity, computer science, computer engineering, management information systems and software engineering.

One of the research projects on display, by Mikalya Timm, a senior majoring in computer science, aims to help conservation officials identify jaguars photographed in the wild. Those photos help officials track the jaguars’ migration habits and their survival rates, Timm said.

Timm said wildlife officials attempt to match the pictures of individual jaguars to photos of the animals already on file in a database, mainly by picking out patterns on their coats. That method, however, is time-intensive and prone to errors, because the jaguars often look similar, Timm said.

“My goal was to come up with a system that would automate that using computer-vision algorithms,” she said.

The algorithm assigns descriptors that can be matched across photographs. Timm said the method has accurately identified jaguars more than 90 percent of the time.

Another group of students worked on a project that tests the security of wearable devices, such as the Fitbit.

“We found that they are not very secure,” said Dr. Thomas Reichherzer, an associate professor of computer science at UWF, who served as faculty mentor for the research project.

Using machine learning algorithms, the research is intended to determine whether sensitive information is being sent over the devices, and what encryption can be used to make the devices more secure, said Nathaniel Reyes, one of the students working on the project. That data is still being collected, Reyes said.

Other projects at the student showcase covered topics that included increasing policy training and enforcement in organizations, using machine learning algorithms to track the outcomes of animals in shelters, and using navigational mesh in 3-D environments.