SRP 2017 Faculty Profile: Dr. Xinlian Liu, Hood College

At Hood College, a small liberal arts college in Frederick, Maryland, Dr. Xinlian Liu ties his research interests to how to better prepare students for a research career path. “We have some really wonderful students, and Sustainable Research Pathways (SRP) is a rare opportunity for them to get involved in conducting cutting-edge research” he says. The SRP program is part of a partnership between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Sustainable Horizons Institute (SHI) that promotes research collaborations to advance emerging science.

The SRP program organizes an annual matching workshop for selected faculty applicants and laboratory researchers at LBNL. This matching event is where Dr. Liu met and matched with researcher, Dr. Silvia Crivelli. After the workshop, he learned that he would be bringing two of his students to LBNL the following summer to work with him and Dr. Crivelli on deep learning algorithms and application to 3D structures. Dr. Liu believes this initial matching workshop is “the foundation” for success in the SRP program.

Dr. Liu offers the following account of his SRP experience:  “It has been a great opportunity for me to absorb new ideas and learn new skills from researchers at the LBNL, so that I can be a more effective teacher and be better at educating students when I get back to my College after the summer. The SRP program enabled me to work along with Dr. Crivelli this summer on a project with tremendous social impact. Last summer, Dr. Crivelli and I proposed a new algorithm for learning 3D data. This year, the work was expanded by Dr. Wilson Rivera and his students: Dan Rosa de Jesus and Julian Cuevas for better performance and improved interpretability [sic}; together, we focused on methodology development for the Million Veteran Program (MVP). Building upon recent progress in deep learning and the availability of a large EHR dataset, we developed a predictive model that can alert caregivers to the next unplanned readmission for their high-risk patients and prioritize medical and social resources for timely intervention and suicide-prevention efforts. I read it somewhere that the ultimate duty for a scientist is to bring solutions to social challenges. With the increased power of High Performance Computing (HPC), we are gaining the capability to model individual and societal behavior and provide meaningful answers”.

Extolling his collaborators at LBNL, Dr. Liu says: “There are many scientists who are passionate about cutting-edge research, and there are many teachers who are dedicated to education. However, it’s rare to find professionals who are so enthusiastic about both, as we see from Dr. Silvia Crivelli and our mentors at LBNL.

The experience working with lab scientists on a meaningful project excited our students. Of the two students I brought to the lab last year, Tom Corcoran found a job at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and Rafael Zamora-Resendiz continued working at LNBL.

Sustainable Horizons Institute is especially proud of Dr. Liu’s contribution to the SRP Program. His dedication to his students shows in the success that his team has found as a direct result of their participation in SRP. As a second-year SRP collaborator, Dr. Liu has supported and encouraged first-year SRP faculty and student participants in their pursuit of scientific excellence. We applaud his accomplishments and wish him continued success.