Cal State Fullerton Students Explore Big Data Neuroimaging at INI

Earlier this month, six undergraduate students from California State University, Fullerton presented their summer research results to a room full of neuroscientists at the Mary and Mark Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute (INI). The collaboration is part of CSUF’s Big Data Discovery and Diversity through Research Education Advancement and Partnerships (BD3 REAP) program, which trains underrepresented students in big data science.

“The program exposes these young investigators to what modern science is about these days, which is the collection of ever larger data sets,” said Jack Van Horn, INI’s director of education and leader of the collaboration. “They’re learning about the challenges of big data, and how they can manage, model, and understand it.”

Building on several semesters studying data science and analytics at CSUF, each student selected a big data neuroimaging project to pursue this summer with the guidance of INI faculty members and postdoctoral researchers. 

For their presentations, the students covered methods, results and next steps. Each created a slideshow and was encouraged to delve into the technical aspects of research performed. Focus areas included the Epilepsy Bioinformatics Study for Antiepileptogenic Therapy (EpiBioS4Rx), using gene expression to build an atlas of the hippocampus and the link between functional brain connectivity and familial Alzheimer’s disease.

The students received mentorship from INI faculty, including program director Jack Van Horn, Kay Jann, Tyler Ard, Dominique Duncan, Lirong Yan and Meredith Braskie.

“This has been a great opportunity for INI to expand its commitment to training the next generation of leaders,” said Arthur W. Toga, provost professor at USC and director of INI. “We were impressed by the students’ work and look forward to continuing our outreach efforts with CSU Fullerton.”

Above, the CSU Fullerton students and their INI mentors.