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Titan Standouts Win Top Awards in Science and Technology

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Cal State Fullerton students studying computer science and biology are standouts in their respective fields, with each earning top honors this fall for their work.

Zhangying (Mandy) He

He, a computer science graduate student, was invited to compete in GE’s Minds + Machines 2017 Appathon: Ecomagination Challenge in San Francisco.

The technical competition was open to app developers around the world to develop applications based on the industrial “internet of things” — a network of internet-connected objects that collect and exchange data using embedded sensors — and GE’s Predix software to create digital solutions for the industrial world.

He developed renewable energy solutions to drive the future of energy — decarbonization, decentralization and digitization in the global energy industry. She was part of a four-member team — with teammates from San Francisco and Australia — that won first place for the “start-up track” and the accompanying $20,000 prize for their app to solve energy supply and demand problems.

“We built a system to model and visualize the power demands of a small town supplied by wind generators and batteries, together with diesel backup generators where demand outstrips supply,” she explained.

The appathon experience also reinforced He’s passion to pursue a career in technology: “It brought me a sense of confidence and enabled me to dream of the possibility of becoming a real expert in this field,” said He, who also was part of the Titan student team that competed in the 2017 GE/California State University Innovation Design Challenge.

Anand Panangadan, assistant professor of computer science, noted that the internet of things is one of the most exciting developments in computer science because of new pioneering technologies expected to revolutionize industry. “The internet of things is a set of computing technologies that promises to bring intelligence to everyday devices,” he added.

GE’s Predix software brings together data from multiple kinds of internet of things devices and provides one common way to talk to these devices over the internet, Panangadan pointed out. “This will enable applications to remotely monitor and control internet of things devices from across the internet,” he said.

“Students like Mandy will be increasingly sought after by industry as they adapt to this new technology.”  

Jesus Magallon

Magallon, a biology graduate student, is studying potential strategies to overcome antibiotic resistance in bacteria in the lab of Marcelo E. Tolmasky, professor of biological science.

His research focuses on using ionophores — molecules that help bring metal ions into a cell — to overcome bacteria’s resistance to antibiotics. “We have found one ionophore in combination with zinc ions that was able to reverse the bacteria’s resistance against the antibiotic amikacin,” said Magallon. Their research was published in August in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.

For his project, Magallon won the 2017 Outstanding Graduate Research Award from the Southern California Branch of the American Society for Microbiology (SCASM). His award includes a travel grant, funded by bioMérieux, a multinational biotechnology company, and SCASM, to attend and present his research at the organization’s national conference in June in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Antibiotic resistance is an ongoing issue worldwide, causing our current sets of antibiotics to become ineffective for patients with certain bacterial infections,” said Magallon, a 2015-16 CSUF Elevar Scholar. He plans to apply to medical school next year to pursue a career in emergency medicine.