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Kevin Karsch recognized as finalist for CRA undergraduate award

Senior Kevin Karsch was selected as a finalist in the Computing Research Association’s Outstanding Undergraduate Award competition for 2009.

University of Missouri senior Kevin Karsch is not your average college student. A dual major in computer science and math, he spends his spare time outside the classroom doing research.

Karsch recently was excited to learn that he had been selected as a finalist in the Computing Research Association’s Outstanding Undergraduate Award competition for 2009. He has been working with MU’s Assistant Professor Ye Duan performing undergraduate research geared toward developing autism treatment.

“Most of the winners are from Ivy League schools, so it was nice to see that our work was rewarded. And it will help my graduate application,” He added with a laugh.

The award committee looked for demonstrated excellence of computing research ability. The quality of the research is most important, as is the student’s academic record and service to the community.

Duan’s work involves a comparison between brain structures of autistic children and non-autistic children using 3-D imaging. The ultimate goal of the project is to extract explicit representation of these brain structures, using a segmentation process.

“We are not sure what part of the brain is responsible for autism, but if we find that structure it may be possible to develop an effective treatment in the future,” Karsch said.

Researchers from psychological sciences, the medical school, computer science and other departments across the University campus have been collaborating to perform these segmentations and analyze the results.

For Karsch, the opportunity to participate in the project was an easy decision.

“I’ve always wanted to work with computer graphics and vision. A lot of great improvements can come from graphics research,” Karsch said.

While the 3-D imagining project continues, Karsch is transitioning to a different area of research.

Still working with Ye Duan, the new Department of Defense funded project involves the use of small airborne robots to capture 3-D images for soldiers, allowing them to examine areas beforehand as they approach them.