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May 2, 2013

Student turns heads with interactive, all digital presentation

By James Ryan

james ryan

Bhagya Gunasekera, a PhD-seeking, graduate student from the Chemistry Department, turned heads on Friday, April 12 in the Student Center Ballroom as he gave a completely digital, multi-display presentation of his research at the 2013 College of Science and Health Professions’ Research Day.

Usually, students present their research on a printed poster, which is hung on a poster board. Gunasekera took it a step further by showing his research on eight LED monitors, which he called a “cockpit view of his poster.”

Many were impressed by Gunasekera’s all-digital, eight-screen presentation. Some even called this the ‘new method of presenting.’

“I found Gunasekera’s digital presentation to be very creative and state-of-the-art,” said Joseph Apisdorf, research associate at Cleveland State. “One could tell with only a glance that he put a great deal of time into portraying his poster in this fashion, and his efforts were not wasted. The three dimensional portrayal of his data truly added another dimension to his poster as a whole.”

As more and more gave added attention to his presentation, many could be heard debating whether this should be the new norm.

“I believe students should be asked to prepare digital presentations, and the necessary hardware should be provided by the conference or symposia organizers,” Gunasekera said. “As a teaching assistant, I wished the teaching material, i.e. the images and plots, were more informative to audiences that are new to the subject. The static images should be dynamic, increasing not only the aesthetic appeal, but also the ease of presentation and the dynamic delivery of scientific content.”

Gunasekera said that he got the idea having seen consumer electronics shows. His presentation portrayed topological images of a proposed medical coating of implant material using Atomic Force Microscopy. Those were depicted as rotating three-dimensional images in a new viewing method, which he reproduced as real-time scan plots.

The usual PowerPoint and graph-viewing windows were running during the course of Gunasekera’s presentation. He utilized multi-core processing, virtual operating systems, and multi-GPU graphics and programming language for this project.

Gunasekera jokingly stated that people misunderstood the project to be computer science-related research, which Gunasekera quickly proved otherwise. He later stated that he wanted to include headphones with voice recordings, which he planned to do in the future. He added that he wanted to make the whole assembly much more portable and advanced.

Gunasekera’s research was in improving the longevity and functionality of medical implants, which he does under Mekki Bayachou, professor of chemistry at Cleveland State.