Benjamin B. Warner

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Clemson Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Collaborative Data Visualization Applications Summer 2015

Home Institution

Clemson University
Clemson, SC

Clemson Research Mentor

Dr. David White
CITI Data Management

Clemson Vis. Mentor

Dr. Vetria Byrd

About Me

  • Interests: 3D visualization, engineering, computer science
  • Hobbies: Outdoor fitness, dog-walking, problem solving through virtual scenarios
  • Classes: Unofficial Academic Transcript
  • Awards/Recognitions: SolidWorks Certified

Originally from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, I have always had a strong interest in reverse engineering objects to better understand them and thinking of ways to improve outdated procedures. My Academic career began at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort Campus, where I focused on Computer Sciences. With hopes of pursuing a more meaningful degree, I transferred to Clemson University to pursue an ABET accredited Mechanical Engineering degree. Being mostly on my own in funding, I have tried to pursue part-time jobs and paid internships relevant to my future career. Such experiences include Carpentry, Food Preparing, Theater Overhire, and Analytics Development to name a few. Experience and knowledge seem to be important in my life right now and I hope to be able to attend Graduate School focusing on Aeronautics if it is possible.

What I find to be interesting about myself is that I am a mechanical engineer but I also have considerable experience with computer parts and languages. I have rebuilt a 2010 MacBook Air and a 2006 MacBook Pro. Coding languages that I have used include: Java, Python, C, Matlab, R, and Linux. I also have some experience working with cars in general maintainance and minor part replacements. I enjoy surfing, skating, swimming, cooking, and playing stimulating video games in my free time.

Project Description

Developing Integrated Web-Based Environmental Data Visualization Dashboards:

Data mining and analytics are increasingly a critical component across a broad spectrum of academics and industry. Presenting space and time data in an integrated visualization framework, using large environmental databases can improve data mining and access to data in real-time. The goals of this project are to continue the development and expand efforts of an integrated mapping and analysis dashboard developed for the web. Our initial efforts started with the Vanishing Firefly project ( This is a citizen science program where users submit data (firefly counts) via mobile devices and we report mapped data in real-time. One aspect of this project will focus on the development of flexible web software that will enable a real-time dynamic dashboard, supporting maps and other visualization products.

Relevant R Shiny Links:

*Warning* links currently only work with a vpn connection to or while using a clemson network

Week 1:

This week served primarily as orientation to the research we will be pursuing. We met with our mentors to discuss milestones and develop a hypothesis and began developing these webpages. Team building exercises helped us to better know each other and improve future interactions. We were also introduced to Linux, the Palmetto Super Cluster, and relevant research methods.

Week 2:

After developing effective milestones with our mentors, research has begun. Lectures focus on defining 'Visualisation' and improving our research methods by creating a question from which we elaborate. My mentor, Dr. David White, and I explained our work so far in a lecture. Dr. Alex Feltus also explained his work in a lecture. An XSEDE/ELA Webinar was held by Luis Melara to discuss graduate school and the interview process. A tour of Clemson's Digital Production Arts Lab showed the relevance of their work to visualisation.

Week 3:

Our group was introduced to a visualization tool called ParaView at the start of this week and then we were shown more on methods of research by Dr. Lori Tanner. Focus has been placed on the midterm presentations to be held in week 5, showing what we should include and how to best convey our information to an audience. A lecture was held to emphasize how to avoid misleading visualisations as development begins. We practice using visuals and show some of our favorite examples to each other to spur ideas. Dr. Tanner helps us to develop our abstracts to be presented alongside our midterms after a review by our mentors. The week is concluded with a tour of Clemson's Information Technology Center, where we were able to see the physical entities powering many of the computing systems that we use for processing data.

My research has begun focusing on improving the basic layouts of the R Shiny Apps that I've most recently developed. Improved time-series plots and globe mapping have been deployed to enhance the user experience.

Week 4:

A lecture was held at the beginning of the week to discuss Public Speaking and Elevator Pitches in more detail. Refinement sessions were held for each member to improve their abstracts with Dr. Lori Tanner.

My research focused mostly on attempting to show multiple platform or sensor data at once for the IR app, adjusting the user interface of all the apps to be more concise, and reworking data retrieval methods. A midterm presesentation was also developed to be given next week, ultimately determining who will be able to attend the XSEDE conference at the end of this program.

View my midterm PowerPoint presentation...

Week 5:

This week began with us filming our elevator pitches to practice and to later refer to for improvements. Midterm presentation rehearsals were held throughout Tuesday, to prepare for the actual presentation held on Wednesday. These presentations helped to determine the five who would attend the conference, but resulted in six being able to attend. The decision was announced on Thursday after an introduction to the social network tool called "Social Tap" hosted by Nick Watts.

My research for this week focused again on attempting to show multiple platform or sensor data at once for the IR app. Dr. White suggested I focus on the IR app for the remainder of the program, rearranging the layout to have more tabs for plots and statistics.

Week 6:

After a lengthy weekend and reading a few research papers on color in visualization, Dr. Jill Gemmill held a lecture where we discussed these papers in depth. We were fortunate enough to have a Round Table talk with Jim Bottum, the chief information officer (CIO) for Computing Information Technology at Clemson. Mr. Bottum was so gracious as to give more funding to the program that allows everyone to go to the XSEDE conference. A lecture was held by Dr. Andrew Mount entitled "Stuck at Sea," which focused on his work and how Caroline Zhang and Paris Smith are helping. Dr. Gabriel Hankins also held a lecture entitled "Hidden Icebergs," which focused on Graduate School.

Over the weekend, our group was invited to present at College of Charlestons CCS/REU Mini Conference. It was a great experience to network with other researchers and practice for the XSEDE conference. Some interesting parts concerned problems with tracking ants to make behavior observations and many researchers used 'deep learning' software to aid their projects, usually describing it as a form of magic.

My research has led me to begin modifying the layout of the Intelligent River app. I also figured out ways to better sort through data to target multiple sensors for the IR app and have begun trying to target multiple platforms.

Week 7:

This weekend provided us with an important networking opportunity where we were invited to attend a CCS/REU mini conference at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. UNC Charlotte and NC State University also attended to present their visualisations. Everyone had a 2 minute lightning talk followed by a few minutes for un-poster sessions. It was great to be able to discuss our research with people pursuing similar subjects.

On the first day back, Dr. Lori Tanner had a lecture prepared for us focusing on Research Ethics and we had a Round Table talk with Dr. Vernon Burton. On the next day, we were fortunate enough to have a lecture from Dr. Bernice Rogowitz, a well known visualisation researcher. Nick Paschvoss from Clemsons Career Center gave us some help with with our cover letters and interview skills. Dr. Jill Gemmill gave us another graduate seminar to allow us to discuss some relevant research papers. Preparations for the last week are now underway.

View my CCS/REU mini conference PowerPoint presentation...

Week 8:

Emotions flared as we began to conclude our research and head our seperate ways, though we hope to stay connected. We began with a short lecture with Dr. Wole on Monday morning and then rushed to finalize our posters for XSEDE so as to have them printed before the weekend. We had the chance to present our lightning talks again to rising freshmen in a group called "Foundations in Research Experience" or FIRE during part of Monday and Tuesday. We answered any final questions at the Wednesday mentoring session before rehearsals for the last presentation at Clemson on Friday.

On the last day, everyone presented along with a brief question session. Pictures were taken, certificates were dealt, and tears were shed. We surprised Dr. Byrd with the help of Allison Peasley by getting her a cake and card with fond farewells scribbled within. We also surpised Allison and the other professors with some cards and more fond scribblings. Now all that remains is to travel to XSEDE 2015!

View my final PowerPoint presentation...

In My Own Words:

Here you can view my writing samples for our group's trips...
to Charlestons CCS/REU mini-conference and to St. Louis XSEDE 2015.

Project Summary

Final Report: View my paper...

Poster: View my poster...

Last updated: 07/26/2015