Kyle Altman, a senior biomedical engineering student, was among 40 students whose poster abstracts were chosen out of 700 submissions to attend and present at the annual King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) International Poster Competition held at the university in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
Altman is an undergraduate researcher working with two faculty members in the Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) Engineering Research Center—John Wen and Agung Julius. Altman’s research poster, “Estimation of Circadian Rhythm Based on Adaptive Notch Filter and Its Application to Locomotor Activity,” displays their data objective to develop a circadian rhythm estimator that accurately and continuously estimates circadian phase while successfully extracting phase from noise-corrupted data. The estimator is a modified Adaptive Notch Filter (ANF), which is commonly used in signal processing, and the data was collected using Drosophila melanogaster, the model organism.
Each year KAUST, a private international graduate research university in Saudi Arabia, hosts an international poster competition. Hundreds of international undergraduates from world-renowned universities submit abstracts and up to 50 are selected to come to KAUST to present in the competition. Selected students spend a week at KAUST taking part in WEP activities—visiting labs, meeting with faculty members, and attending seminars and short courses, keynote lectures, entrepreneurial events, field trips, cultural and recreational activities, exhibits, and other WEP special events. All expenses are paid by KAUST for each selected student competitor.
This year, the keynote speakers included Kip Thorne, a theoretical physicist known for his research on gravitational waves and LIGO, black holes, wormholes, and time travel, and James Watson, a biologist, geneticist, zoologist, and co-discoverer with Francis Crick of the double helix molecular structure of DNA and its nucleic acid components.
The poster session included a diverse set of research topics including physics, organic chemistry, sustainability, and biology. Altman plans on applying to medical school in the near future.
“I highly encourage any undergraduates doing research with the ERC to apply to this competition,” said Altman. “Besides being a once-in-a-lifetime experience, KAUST is a world-class university and some of my friends I met during the trip plan on applying to and attending KAUST.”