Research Seminars

Visible to the public 

 L E C T U R E  S E R I E

The one-credit course is designed to give students a broad overview of the projects going on at Vanderbilt as well as cross-training that will prepare them both for the internships and for their future careers. Each class will consist of two components: an introduction to a Vanderbilt research project presented by the project PI along with either a hands-on demonstration of the project or a discussion of a reading assignment. Generally, there are one or two short articles required for reading each week.

Materials from the previous seminars can be found here: 202120202019 | 2018


Wednesday, Jan 19: First Meeting
Introduction to the PIRE program 

Monday, Jan 24: Technological Systems and Society: An Introduction
General introduction to privacy regulations

Monday, Jan 31: Privacy by Design: How to Embed Privacy Goals in Software Design
Summary of research: presentation on the Policy Forge project by Professor Janos Sztipanovits

Dr. Janos Sztipanovits is currently the E. Bronson Ingram Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Vanderbilt University. He is founding director of the Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS). His current research interest includes the foundation and applications of Model-Integrated Computing for the design of Cyber Physical Systems. His other research contributions include structurally adaptive systems, autonomous systems, design space exploration and systems-security co-design technology. He served as program manager and acting deputy director of DARPA/ITO between 1999 and 2002 and he was member of the US Air Force Scientific Advisory Board between 2006-2010. He was founding chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Embedded Software (SIGBED). Dr. Sztipanovits was elected Fellow of the IEEE in 2000 and external member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2010. He graduated (Summa Cum Laude) from the Technical University of Budapest in 1970 and received his doctorate from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1980. 

Monday, Feb 7: Driver Control, Traffic Control, and Traffic Stability
Summary of research: presentation by Professor Dan Work

Dan Work is a Chancellor Faculty Fellow and associate professor in civil and environmental engineering, computer science, and the Institute for Software Integrated Systems at Vanderbilt University. He has held research appointments at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2010-17), Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (2015, 2020), Microsoft Research Redmond (2009), and Nokia Research Center Palo Alto (2007-09). Dr. Work pioneered methods for monitoring and controlling road traffic using vehicles, rather than fixed infrastructure, to sense and control road congestion. In 2015 he and his collaborators were the first to experimentally demonstrate that "phantom" traffic jams, which seemingly occur without an obvious cause but are due to human driving behavior, can be eliminated via control of a small fraction of automated vehicles in the flow. Work is a recognized transportation expert whose work has appeared in media outlets including ABC's Good Morning America, Reuters, Wired, and MIT Technology Review. Dr. Work received a 2018 Gilbreth Lectureship from the National Academy of Engineering and a 2014 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. He earned a BS from Ohio State in 2006, and an MS (2007) and PhD (2010) from UC Berkeley, all in civil and environmental engineering.

Monday, Feb 14: Safety and Policy for CAVs and Drones
Presentation by Professor Dasom Lee

Dasom Lee is an assistant professor in digitalized sustainable energy in the Department of Governance and Technology for Sustainability (CSTM) at the University of Twente, Netherlands. She specializes in energy, cyber-physical systems, environmental sustainability, political sociology, and economic sociology. More specifically, her research focuses on governing and regulating newly emerging cyber-physical systems in the transportation and energy industries and understanding the processes of energy decentralization and energy democracy. She collaborates with engineers and computer scientists to analyze the impacts of energy and transportation systems on social issues such as sustainability, privacy, and equity. She received her PhD in Sociology with a minor in Quantitative Methods from Vanderbilt University, USA and a master’s degree in Economics from Kyoto University, Japan. Her scholarship has been published in journals such as Utilities Policy, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, and Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. For more information about her research, visit her website:

Monday, Feb 21: "Challenges in using AI based components in safety critical applications"
Presentation by Professor Werner Damm

Prof. Werner Damm holds the Chair for Safety Critical Embedded Systems at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg. He is the Scientific Director of the Transregional Collaborative Research Center AVACS (SFB/TR 14 Automatic Verification and Analysis of Complex Systems), the coordinator of the VW Vorab funded Research Group on Integrated Modeling for Safe Transportation IMOST, and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Center on Critical Systems Engineering for Socio-Technical Systems installed in April 2013. He is a member of acatech, the German National Academy of Science and Engineering. He has been nominated General Chair of the Cyber Physical Systems Week 2014 in Berlin. He is member of the Board of Directors of the Applied Research Institute OFFIS. He is the Chairman of the German competence cluster SafeTRANS, integrating leading companies and research institutes in the transportation domain, the co-founder and member of the steering board of the European Institute for Complex Safety Critical Engineering EICOSE, the Chairman of the Artemis Working Group Tool Platforms. His recent research covers foundational research on mathematical models of embedded systems, specification languages, hybrid systems, formal verification methods, and real-time and safety analysis. This is complemented by applied research with industrial partners in avionics, automotive, and train system application. The focus of this research is on enhancing model-based development processes with formal method-based approaches to verification, testing, and safety and real-time analysis, as well as on enabling component-based design for embedded systems.

Monday, Feb 28: Autonomy and Safe Artificial Intelligence: Submarine Vehicles
Presentation by Professor Gabor Karsai

Dr. Gabor Karsai is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Vanderbilt University, and Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Software-Integrated Systems. He has over thirty years of experience in software engineering. He conducts research in the design and implementation of embedded systems, in programming tools for visual programming environments, in the theory and practice of model-integrated computing, and in resource management and scheduling systems. He received his Diploma, MSc, and Dr. Techn. degrees from the Technical University of Budapest, Hungary, in 1982, 1984 and 1988, respectively, and his PhD from Vanderbilt University in 1988. He has published over 150 papers, and he is the co-author of four patents. He has managed several large research projects on model-based integration of embedded systems, model-based toolchains, fault-adaptive control technology, and coordinated scheduling and planning.

Monday, Mar 7: No class. Spring break

Monday, Mar 14: Security, Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Lights, and Dynamic Routing
Summary of research: Presentation by Professor Xenofon Koutsoukos

Xenofon Koutsoukos is a Professor of Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Electrical Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Vanderbilt University. He is also a Senior Research Scientist in the Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS). Before joining Vanderbilt, Dr. Koutsoukos was a Member of Research Staff in the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) (2000-2002), working in the Embedded Collaborative Computing Area. Between 1993 and 1995, he joined the National Center for Space Applications, Hellenic Ministry of National Defense, Athens, Greece as a computer engineer in the areas of image processing and remote sensing. He received the Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in January 1998 and the Master of Science in Applied Mathematics in May 1998 both from the University of Notre Dame. He received his PhD in Electrical Engineering working under Professor Panos J. Antsaklis with the group for Interdisciplinary Studies of Intelligent Systems. His research work is in the area of cyber-physical systems with emphasis on formal methods, distributed algorithms, diagnosis and fault tolerance, and adaptive resource management. He has published numerous journal and conference papers and he is co-inventor of four US patents. He is the recipient of the NSF Career Award in 2004, the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009 from the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, and the 2011 Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) Associate Administrator (AA) Award in Technology and Innovation from NASA.

Monday, March 21: From Causality to Accountability
Presentation by Professor Alexander Pretschner

Professor Pretschner studied computer science at RWTH Aachen and at the University of Kansas where he was a Fulbright grant recipient. After obtaining his doctorate at TUM, he worked as a senior researcher at ETH Zurich for five years. Within the framework of the Fraunhofer Attract Program he then moved on to head a research group at the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering in Kaiserslautern. Parallel to this he was an adjunct associate professor at TU Kaiserslautern. Before joining TUM as a full professor in 2012, Professor Pretschner was a full professor at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Professor Pretschner has been founding director of the Bavarian Research Institute for Digital Transformation since 2018. Since 2016 he has served as scientific director and since 2019 spokesman of the scientific board of fortiss, the Bavarian state research institute for software-intensive systems and services. The research area of Professor Pretschner is software and systems engineering. His main focus is on testing and information security.

Monday, March 28: "Driving with visual impairments – limitations, compensations and the potential of assistive technologies"
Presentation by Bianca Biebl 

Bianca Biebl joined the Chair of Ergonomics as a research assistant in November 2019. She studied Psychology at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and completed her master's degree there with a focus on neuropsychology. In her master's thesis, she investigated the influence of the subjective body center on the accuracy of manual movement trajectories. Currently, Ms. Biebl is working on the gaze and driving behavior of visually impaired drivers and the development of a cooperative human-machine system to compensate for visual impairments as part of a DFG funded project. Her research interests also include the intended use of highly automated vehicles and the modeling of driver behavior in intersections.


Monday, April 4: Introduction to the electricity grid, the smart grid, distributed energy, and demand management
Presented by Professor David Hess

David J. Hess is a professor in the Sociology Department at Vanderbilt University and Director of Environmental and Sustainability Studies. His research and teaching is on the sociology, anthropology, and policy studies of science, technology, health, and the environment. He is the recipient of the Robert K. Merton Prize, the Diana Forsythe Prize, the Star-Nelkin Prize (shared with coauthors), the William H. Wiley Distinguished Faculty Award, and the General Anthropology Division Prize for Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship. He has been a Fulbright scholar and the PI and Co-PI on grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and FIPSE.


Monday, April 11: Transactive Energy Project Summary
Presented by Professor Himanshu Neema

Himanshu Neema is a Research Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Vanderbilt University. He holds a MS and PhD in Computer Science from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Neema researches in the general area of model-based design and modeling and simulation of Cyber-Physical Systems and their integrated simulation with hardware- and humans- in the loop. His research interests include Cyber-Physical Systems, Heterogeneous Simulation Integration, System-of-Systems, Resilient Systems, System Security, Design Automation, Design Space Exploration, Machine Learning, Constraint Programming, Planning & Scheduling, Operations Research, Service-Oriented Architectures, Transactive Energy, and Smart Cities. Dr. Neema has 23 years of experience in research and development of software applications covering above areas and has co-authored more than 70 publications. He is the creator of the model-based simulation integration and rapid experimentation framework called Cyber-Physical Systems Wind Tunnel (CPSWT), which has been recently successfully transitioned to the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Monday, April 18: Presentations by students

Monday, April 25: Student presentations continued