Introducing international undergrads to Canada
Students from Brazil and India conducting summer research
Ryan McNutt - July 25, 2012
Students around the globe often dream of studying abroad, to have the opportunity to broaden their perspective by experiencing research and academic life in another country.
That dream is a little closer for three international undergrad computer science students, who are spending their summer at Dalhousie through the Mitacs Globalink program.
While in Halifax, Shreya Kedia and Ajitesh Srivastava, both from India, and Filipe de Lima Arcanjo from Brazil, are leading their own research projects under the supervision of Dal faculty and postdoctoral fellows.
They’re three of more than 270 international undergraduate students taking part in Globalink at 28 different Canadian universities this year. Mitacs, a national not-for-profit research organization, runs the program to introduce students to Canada as a world-leading research destination.
Summer research projects
“I didn’t know how it would be, because not many people in Brazil have gone to Canada through Mitacs, so I was kind of scared at first but it turned out quite well,” says Mr. de Lima Arcanjo, who is from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. He’s working with Evangelos Milios’ Machine Learning and Networked Information Spaces (MALNIS) Laboratory in Dal’s Faculty of Computer Science on a project researching visual text analytics.
“There’s this huge data set collected by Google a few years ago, and it has pieces of books from as far back as 200 or 300 years ago…the postdoc I’m working with specializes in those pieces of text, so we set out to enrich the type of analysis that Google did, so that instead of just the frequency [of terms], we can visualize richer information such as correlation of phrases, or sentiment.”
Mr. Srivastava, who is from the Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS) in Pilani, a premier engineering and technical university in India, is also working in Dr. Milios’ lab this summer.
“One area I’m looking at is text mining, grouping similar documents together or retrieving info from that text, and the other is how you visualize this information. I thought the concept of real-life networks could apply to text, creating a graphical visualization of documents and then grouping documents from there.”
Shreya Kedia, also from BITS Pilani, is working with CS prof Jeannette Janssen on graphing models of the brain’s networks.
“We take the neurons as nodes and synapses as edges, and try to see if there is anything we can tell about the neurons based on the type of connections they have to other types of neurons. Currently, we are working on the brain of C. elegans, the most well-documented brain.”
The students all say that the chance to work in Canada has been inspiring.
“I always planned to go abroad for my masters, and after I was here, I was like, okay, I can do that,” says Ms. Kedia. “In fact, I might be back here for six months,” she adds, explaining that her university provides the option to work on a master’s thesis at another institution. Mr. Srivastava is also hoping to come back to Dal in January to do the same.
“I find the people here very polite and helpful,” he adds. “I know a lot of very talented people here, with whom I could work in the future.”
All three students hope to complete a masters and PhD, and say that the Globalink experience has certainly put Canada on their radar.
“Canada would be a really nice option, absolutely,” says Mr. de Lima Arcanjo.