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Title: NSEC 2020 Conference Proceedings
The presentations and abstracts from the NSEC 2020 National Conference, which was held on June 10-11, 2020. It was a virtual convening.
Redd, Kacy; Finkelstein, Noah
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Network of STEM Education Centers National Conference
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National Science Foundation
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  1. The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdowns all over the world have had various impacts on atmospheric quality. This study aimed to investigate the impact of the lockdown on the air quality of Nanjing, China. The off-axis measurements from state-of-the-art remote-sensing Multi-Axis Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscope (MAX-DOAS) were used to observe the trace gases, i.e., Formaldehyde (HCHO), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), and Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), along with the in-situ time series of NO2, SO2 and Ozone (O3). The total dataset covers the span of five months, from 1 December 2019, to 10 May 2020, which comprises of four phases,more »i.e., the pre lockdown phase (1 December 2019, to 23 January 2020), Phase-1 lockdown (24 January 2020, to 26 February 2020), Phase-2 lockdown (27 February 2020, to 31 March 2020), and post lockdown (1 April 2020, to 10 May 2020). The observed results clearly showed that the concentrations of selected pollutants were lower along with improved air quality during the lockdown periods (Phase-1 and Phase-2) with only the exception of O3, which showed an increasing trend during lockdown. The study concluded that limited anthropogenic activities during the spring festival and lockdown phases improved air quality with a significant reduction of selected trace gases, i.e., NO2 59%, HCHO 38%, and SO2 33%. We also compared our results with 2019 data for available gases. Our results imply that the air pollutants concentration reduction in 2019 during Phase-2 was insignificant, which was due to the business as usual conditions after the Spring Festival (Phase-1) in 2019. In contrast, a significant contamination reduction was observed during Phase-2 in 2020 with the enforcement of a Level-II response in lockdown conditions i.e., the easing of the lockdown situation in some sectors during a specific interval of time. The observed ratio of HCHO to NO2 showed that tropospheric ozone production involved Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) limited scenarios.« less
  2. Obeid, Iyad Selesnick (Ed.)
    The Temple University Hospital EEG Corpus (TUEG) [1] is the largest publicly available EEG corpus of its type and currently has over 5,000 subscribers (we currently average 35 new subscribers a week). Several valuable subsets of this corpus have been developed including the Temple University Hospital EEG Seizure Corpus (TUSZ) [2] and the Temple University Hospital EEG Artifact Corpus (TUAR) [3]. TUSZ contains manually annotated seizure events and has been widely used to develop seizure detection and prediction technology [4]. TUAR contains manually annotated artifacts and has been used to improve machine learning performance on seizure detection tasks [5]. Inmore »this poster, we will discuss recent improvements made to both corpora that are creating opportunities to improve machine learning performance. Two major concerns that were raised when v1.5.2 of TUSZ was released for the Neureka 2020 Epilepsy Challenge were: (1) the subjects contained in the training, development (validation) and blind evaluation sets were not mutually exclusive, and (2) high frequency seizures were not accurately annotated in all files. Regarding (1), there were 50 subjects in dev, 50 subjects in eval, and 592 subjects in train. There was one subject common to dev and eval, five subjects common to dev and train, and 13 subjects common between eval and train. Though this does not substantially influence performance for the current generation of technology, it could be a problem down the line as technology improves. Therefore, we have rebuilt the partitions of the data so that this overlap was removed. This required augmenting the evaluation and development data sets with new subjects that had not been previously annotated so that the size of these subsets remained approximately the same. Since these annotations were done by a new group of annotators, special care was taken to make sure the new annotators followed the same practices as the previous generations of annotators. Part of our quality control process was to have the new annotators review all previous annotations. This rigorous training coupled with a strict quality control process where annotators review a significant amount of each other’s work ensured that there is high interrater agreement between the two groups (kappa statistic greater than 0.8) [6]. In the process of reviewing this data, we also decided to split long files into a series of smaller segments to facilitate processing of the data. Some subscribers found it difficult to process long files using Python code, which tends to be very memory intensive. We also found it inefficient to manipulate these long files in our annotation tool. In this release, the maximum duration of any single file is limited to 60 mins. This increased the number of edf files in the dev set from 1012 to 1832. Regarding (2), as part of discussions of several issues raised by a few subscribers, we discovered some files only had low frequency epileptiform events annotated (defined as events that ranged in frequency from 2.5 Hz to 3 Hz), while others had events annotated that contained significant frequency content above 3 Hz. Though there were not many files that had this type of activity, it was enough of a concern to necessitate reviewing the entire corpus. An example of an epileptiform seizure event with frequency content higher than 3 Hz is shown in Figure 1. Annotating these additional events slightly increased the number of seizure events. In v1.5.2, there were 673 seizures, while in v1.5.3 there are 1239 events. One of the fertile areas for technology improvements is artifact reduction. Artifacts and slowing constitute the two major error modalities in seizure detection [3]. This was a major reason we developed TUAR. It can be used to evaluate artifact detection and suppression technology as well as multimodal background models that explicitly model artifacts. An issue with TUAR was the practicality of the annotation tags used when there are multiple simultaneous events. An example of such an event is shown in Figure 2. In this section of the file, there is an overlap of eye movement, electrode artifact, and muscle artifact events. We previously annotated such events using a convention that included annotating background along with any artifact that is present. The artifacts present would either be annotated with a single tag (e.g., MUSC) or a coupled artifact tag (e.g., MUSC+ELEC). When multiple channels have background, the tags become crowded and difficult to identify. This is one reason we now support a hierarchical annotation format using XML – annotations can be arbitrarily complex and support overlaps in time. Our annotators also reviewed specific eye movement artifacts (e.g., eye flutter, eyeblinks). Eye movements are often mistaken as seizures due to their similar morphology [7][8]. We have improved our understanding of ocular events and it has allowed us to annotate artifacts in the corpus more carefully. In this poster, we will present statistics on the newest releases of these corpora and discuss the impact these improvements have had on machine learning research. We will compare TUSZ v1.5.3 and TUAR v2.0.0 with previous versions of these corpora. We will release v1.5.3 of TUSZ and v2.0.0 of TUAR in Fall 2021 prior to the symposium. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Research reported in this publication was most recently supported by the National Science Foundation’s Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) Research Experience for Undergraduates award number 1827565. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official views of any of these organizations. REFERENCES [1] I. Obeid and J. Picone, “The Temple University Hospital EEG Data Corpus,” in Augmentation of Brain Function: Facts, Fiction and Controversy. Volume I: Brain-Machine Interfaces, 1st ed., vol. 10, M. A. Lebedev, Ed. Lausanne, Switzerland: Frontiers Media S.A., 2016, pp. 394 398. [2] V. Shah et al., “The Temple University Hospital Seizure Detection Corpus,” Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, vol. 12, pp. 1–6, 2018. [3] A. Hamid et, al., “The Temple University Artifact Corpus: An Annotated Corpus of EEG Artifacts.” in Proceedings of the IEEE Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology Symposium (SPMB), 2020, pp. 1-3. [4] Y. Roy, R. Iskander, and J. Picone, “The NeurekaTM 2020 Epilepsy Challenge,” NeuroTechX, 2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 01-Dec-2021]. [5] S. Rahman, A. Hamid, D. Ochal, I. Obeid, and J. Picone, “Improving the Quality of the TUSZ Corpus,” in Proceedings of the IEEE Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology Symposium (SPMB), 2020, pp. 1–5. [6] V. Shah, E. von Weltin, T. Ahsan, I. Obeid, and J. Picone, “On the Use of Non-Experts for Generation of High-Quality Annotations of Seizure Events,” Available: https://www.isip.picone [Accessed: 01-Dec-2021]. [7] D. Ochal, S. Rahman, S. Ferrell, T. Elseify, I. Obeid, and J. Picone, “The Temple University Hospital EEG Corpus: Annotation Guidelines,” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 2020. [8] D. Strayhorn, “The Atlas of Adult Electroencephalography,” EEG Atlas Online, 2014. [Online]. Availabl« less
  3. Obeid, I. (Ed.)
    The Neural Engineering Data Consortium (NEDC) is developing the Temple University Digital Pathology Corpus (TUDP), an open source database of high-resolution images from scanned pathology samples [1], as part of its National Science Foundation-funded Major Research Instrumentation grant titled “MRI: High Performance Digital Pathology Using Big Data and Machine Learning” [2]. The long-term goal of this project is to release one million images. We have currently scanned over 100,000 images and are in the process of annotating breast tissue data for our first official corpus release, v1.0.0. This release contains 3,505 annotated images of breast tissue including 74 patients withmore »cancerous diagnoses (out of a total of 296 patients). In this poster, we will present an analysis of this corpus and discuss the challenges we have faced in efficiently producing high quality annotations of breast tissue. It is well known that state of the art algorithms in machine learning require vast amounts of data. Fields such as speech recognition [3], image recognition [4] and text processing [5] are able to deliver impressive performance with complex deep learning models because they have developed large corpora to support training of extremely high-dimensional models (e.g., billions of parameters). Other fields that do not have access to such data resources must rely on techniques in which existing models can be adapted to new datasets [6]. A preliminary version of this breast corpus release was tested in a pilot study using a baseline machine learning system, ResNet18 [7], that leverages several open-source Python tools. The pilot corpus was divided into three sets: train, development, and evaluation. Portions of these slides were manually annotated [1] using the nine labels in Table 1 [8] to identify five to ten examples of pathological features on each slide. Not every pathological feature is annotated, meaning excluded areas can include focuses particular to these labels that are not used for training. A summary of the number of patches within each label is given in Table 2. To maintain a balanced training set, 1,000 patches of each label were used to train the machine learning model. Throughout all sets, only annotated patches were involved in model development. The performance of this model in identifying all the patches in the evaluation set can be seen in the confusion matrix of classification accuracy in Table 3. The highest performing labels were background, 97% correct identification, and artifact, 76% correct identification. A correlation exists between labels with more than 6,000 development patches and accurate performance on the evaluation set. Additionally, these results indicated a need to further refine the annotation of invasive ductal carcinoma (“indc”), inflammation (“infl”), nonneoplastic features (“nneo”), normal (“norm”) and suspicious (“susp”). This pilot experiment motivated changes to the corpus that will be discussed in detail in this poster presentation. To increase the accuracy of the machine learning model, we modified how we addressed underperforming labels. One common source of error arose with how non-background labels were converted into patches. Large areas of background within other labels were isolated within a patch resulting in connective tissue misrepresenting a non-background label. In response, the annotation overlay margins were revised to exclude benign connective tissue in non-background labels. Corresponding patient reports and supporting immunohistochemical stains further guided annotation reviews. The microscopic diagnoses given by the primary pathologist in these reports detail the pathological findings within each tissue site, but not within each specific slide. The microscopic diagnoses informed revisions specifically targeting annotated regions classified as cancerous, ensuring that the labels “indc” and “dcis” were used only in situations where a micropathologist diagnosed it as such. Further differentiation of cancerous and precancerous labels, as well as the location of their focus on a slide, could be accomplished with supplemental immunohistochemically (IHC) stained slides. When distinguishing whether a focus is a nonneoplastic feature versus a cancerous growth, pathologists employ antigen targeting stains to the tissue in question to confirm the diagnosis. For example, a nonneoplastic feature of usual ductal hyperplasia will display diffuse staining for cytokeratin 5 (CK5) and no diffuse staining for estrogen receptor (ER), while a cancerous growth of ductal carcinoma in situ will have negative or focally positive staining for CK5 and diffuse staining for ER [9]. Many tissue samples contain cancerous and non-cancerous features with morphological overlaps that cause variability between annotators. The informative fields IHC slides provide could play an integral role in machine model pathology diagnostics. Following the revisions made on all the annotations, a second experiment was run using ResNet18. Compared to the pilot study, an increase of model prediction accuracy was seen for the labels indc, infl, nneo, norm, and null. This increase is correlated with an increase in annotated area and annotation accuracy. Model performance in identifying the suspicious label decreased by 25% due to the decrease of 57% in the total annotated area described by this label. A summary of the model performance is given in Table 4, which shows the new prediction accuracy and the absolute change in error rate compared to Table 3. The breast tissue subset we are developing includes 3,505 annotated breast pathology slides from 296 patients. The average size of a scanned SVS file is 363 MB. The annotations are stored in an XML format. A CSV version of the annotation file is also available which provides a flat, or simple, annotation that is easy for machine learning researchers to access and interface to their systems. Each patient is identified by an anonymized medical reference number. Within each patient’s directory, one or more sessions are identified, also anonymized to the first of the month in which the sample was taken. These sessions are broken into groupings of tissue taken on that date (in this case, breast tissue). A deidentified patient report stored as a flat text file is also available. Within these slides there are a total of 16,971 total annotated regions with an average of 4.84 annotations per slide. Among those annotations, 8,035 are non-cancerous (normal, background, null, and artifact,) 6,222 are carcinogenic signs (inflammation, nonneoplastic and suspicious,) and 2,714 are cancerous labels (ductal carcinoma in situ and invasive ductal carcinoma in situ.) The individual patients are split up into three sets: train, development, and evaluation. Of the 74 cancerous patients, 20 were allotted for both the development and evaluation sets, while the remain 34 were allotted for train. The remaining 222 patients were split up to preserve the overall distribution of labels within the corpus. This was done in hope of creating control sets for comparable studies. Overall, the development and evaluation sets each have 80 patients, while the training set has 136 patients. In a related component of this project, slides from the Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC) Biosample Repository ( -facility) are being digitized in addition to slides provided by Temple University Hospital. This data includes 18 different types of tissue including approximately 38.5% urinary tissue and 16.5% gynecological tissue. These slides and the metadata provided with them are already anonymized and include diagnoses in a spreadsheet with sample and patient ID. We plan to release over 13,000 unannotated slides from the FCCC Corpus simultaneously with v1.0.0 of TUDP. Details of this release will also be discussed in this poster. Few digitally annotated databases of pathology samples like TUDP exist due to the extensive data collection and processing required. The breast corpus subset should be released by November 2021. By December 2021 we should also release the unannotated FCCC data. We are currently annotating urinary tract data as well. We expect to release about 5,600 processed TUH slides in this subset. We have an additional 53,000 unprocessed TUH slides digitized. Corpora of this size will stimulate the development of a new generation of deep learning technology. In clinical settings where resources are limited, an assistive diagnoses model could support pathologists’ workload and even help prioritize suspected cancerous cases. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This material is supported by the National Science Foundation under grants nos. CNS-1726188 and 1925494. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. REFERENCES [1] N. Shawki et al., “The Temple University Digital Pathology Corpus,” in Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology: Emerging Trends in Research and Applications, 1st ed., I. Obeid, I. Selesnick, and J. Picone, Eds. New York City, New York, USA: Springer, 2020, pp. 67 104. [2] J. Picone, T. Farkas, I. Obeid, and Y. Persidsky, “MRI: High Performance Digital Pathology Using Big Data and Machine Learning.” Major Research Instrumentation (MRI), Division of Computer and Network Systems, Award No. 1726188, January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2021. https://www. [3] A. Gulati et al., “Conformer: Convolution-augmented Transformer for Speech Recognition,” in Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association (INTERSPEECH), 2020, pp. 5036-5040. [4] C.-J. Wu et al., “Machine Learning at Facebook: Understanding Inference at the Edge,” in Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture (HPCA), 2019, pp. 331–344. [5] I. Caswell and B. Liang, “Recent Advances in Google Translate,” Google AI Blog: The latest from Google Research, 2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 01-Aug-2021]. [6] V. Khalkhali, N. Shawki, V. Shah, M. Golmohammadi, I. Obeid, and J. Picone, “Low Latency Real-Time Seizure Detection Using Transfer Deep Learning,” in Proceedings of the IEEE Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology Symposium (SPMB), 2021, pp. 1 7. https://www.isip. [7] J. Picone, T. Farkas, I. Obeid, and Y. Persidsky, “MRI: High Performance Digital Pathology Using Big Data and Machine Learning,” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 2020. [8] I. Hunt, S. Husain, J. Simons, I. Obeid, and J. Picone, “Recent Advances in the Temple University Digital Pathology Corpus,” in Proceedings of the IEEE Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology Symposium (SPMB), 2019, pp. 1–4. [9] A. P. Martinez, C. Cohen, K. Z. Hanley, and X. (Bill) Li, “Estrogen Receptor and Cytokeratin 5 Are Reliable Markers to Separate Usual Ductal Hyperplasia From Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia and Low-Grade Ductal Carcinoma In Situ,” Arch. Pathol. Lab. Med., vol. 140, no. 7, pp. 686–689, Apr. 2016.« less
  4. Abstract. In the 2019/2020 austral summer, the surface melt duration andextent on the northern George VI Ice Shelf (GVIIS) was exceptional comparedto the 31 previous summers of distinctly lower melt. This finding is basedon analysis of near-continuous 41-year satellite microwave radiometer andscatterometer data, which are sensitive to meltwater on the ice shelfsurface and in the near-surface snow. Using optical satellite imagery fromLandsat 8 (2013 to 2020) and Sentinel-2 (2017 to 2020), record volumes ofsurface meltwater ponding were also observed on the northern GVIIS in2019/2020, with 23 % of the surface area covered by 0.62 km3 of ponded meltwater on 19 January. These exceptionalmore »melt andsurface ponding conditions in 2019/2020 were driven by sustained airtemperatures ≥0 ∘C for anomalously long periods (55 to 90 h)from late November onwards, which limited meltwater refreezing.The sustained warm periods were likely driven by warm, low-speed (≤7.5 m s−1) northwesterly and northeasterly winds and not by foehn windconditions, which were only present for 9 h total in the 2019/2020 meltseason. Increased surface ponding on ice shelves may threaten theirstability through increased potential for hydrofracture initiation; a riskthat may increase due to firn air content depletion in response tonear-surface melting.« less
  5. “What is crucial for your ability to communicate with me… pivots on the recipient’s capacity to interpret—to make good inferential sense of the meanings that the declarer is able to send” (Rescher 2000, p148). Conventional approaches to reconciling taxonomic information in biodiversity databases have been based on string matching for unique taxonomic name combinations (Kindt 2020, Norman et al. 2020). However, in their original context, these names pertain to specific usages or taxonomic concepts, which can subsequently vary for the same name as applied by different authors. Name-based synonym matching is a helpful first step (Guala 2016, Correia et al.more »2018), but may still leave considerable ambiguity regarding proper usage (Fig. 1). Therefore, developing "taxonomic intelligence" is the bioinformatic challenge to adequately represent, and subsequently propagate, this complex name/usage interaction across trusted biodiversity data networks. How do we ensure that senders and recipients of biodiversity data not only can share messages but do so with “good inferential sense” of their respective meanings? Key obstacles have involved dealing with the complexity of taxonomic name/usage modifications through time, both in terms of accounting for and digitally representing the long histories of taxonomic change in most lineages. An important critique of proposals to use name-to-usage relationships for data aggregation has been the difficulty of scaling them up to reach comprehensive coverage, in contrast to name-based global taxonomic hierarchies (Bisby 2011). The Linnaean system of nomenclature has some unfortunate design limitations in this regard, in that taxonomic names are not unique identifiers, their meanings may change over time, and the names as a string of characters do not encode their proper usage, i.e., the name “Genus species” does not specify a source defining how to use the name correctly (Remsen 2016, Sterner and Franz 2017). In practice, many people provide taxonomic names in their datasets or publications but not a source specifying a usage. The information needed to map the relationships between names and usages in taxonomic monographs or revisions is typically not presented it in a machine-readable format. New approaches are making progress on these obstacles. Theoretical advances in the representation of taxonomic intelligence have made it increasingly possible to implement efficient querying and reasoning methods on name-usage relationships (Chen et al. 2014, Chawuthai et al. 2016, Franz et al. 2015). Perhaps most importantly, growing efforts to produce name-usage mappings on a medium scale by data providers and taxonomic authorities suggest an all-or-nothing approach is not required. Multiple high-profile biodiversity databases have implemented internal tools for explicitly tracking conflicting or dynamic taxonomic classifications, including eBird using concept relationships from AviBase (Lepage et al. 2014); NatureServe in its Biotics database; iNaturalist using its taxon framework (Loarie 2020); and the UNITE database for fungi (Nilsson et al. 2019). Other ongoing projects incorporating taxonomic intelligence include the Flora of Alaska (Flora of Alaska 2020), the Mammal Diversity Database (Mammal Diversity Database 2020) and PollardBase for butterfly population monitoring (Campbell et al. 2020).« less