For New Research / Independent Study Students

The current independent study offerings for Spring 2014 through Dr. Albert are:

COMP 388-08 (5518): Advanced Experimental Computing: Pervasive Health Computing, for undergraduate independent study through the CS department.

COMP 488-08 (5521): Course title/number for graduate independent study through CS

BIOI 399-07E (3647): Bioinformatics Research Independent Study, for undergraduate study through the bioinformatics program.

This page is to orient new or potential students to research with Dr. Albert as part of the PAC lab (, as well as students working with Dr. Honig in his separate 388 course (see his additional information here, including his specific course numbering). We hope you can learn from our experience, and at the same time contribute to the joint lab goals of using computer science to improve the human condition. To orient you, when you finish going through this page, you should be on board to contribute to this lab.

Benefits: Aside from the personal benefit of having validated research results as part of your experience and background, through independent study you get the eyes and ears of the faculty to help guide your professional progress. You have a place where your efforts reach beyond the classroom, beyond Loyola. For example, next semester we will take “field trips” to places like the rehabilitation technologies lab at the rehabilitation institute, to discuss ideas and work with potential clinical collaborators. More immediate resources include your own desk in the PAC Lab, room 409 Lewis Towers downtown. Also, we have a budget to order necessary equipment, can apply for future funding if necessary, and work with academic and industry collaborators to get access to advanced equipment, recorded data, or patient populations to complete your study. Basically, if the idea is good enough and you are capable (and with enough lead time) we can find the necessary resources.

Caveats: Unlike a typical independent study experience, in this lab your results should also be research oriented to benefit the general scientific community. Specifically, all work in this lab is done with the intention of communicating the results outside the lab, whether in conferences, as journal articles, or to industry collaborators. Though a research orientation is more effort, it is substantially more rewarding to you and the scientific community in general.

But much like a typical independent study experience at Loyola, projects are directed through a joint effort between you, your advisor, and other lab members. The process of research here is a walk together on bringing your goal, efforts, and results in line with the lab’s overall contributions and efforts. These efforts are necessarily collaborative in nature. You should expect this, and look forward to it.

If you would like to join our lab efforts, we recommend you follow the following steps…

  1. Consider mutual goals/interests: Before contacting, look over the lab website (, especially at the recent news, publications, and current projects lists. If you are inspired in a direction related to these previous efforts, there is a good chance it is something we can consider working on together. Good first step to check.
  2. Have sufficient background? All students are required to have at least one year of formal programming experience. This is not simply exposure, but rather explicit use either in courses or industry. Generally this is met in the Sophmore year for CS undergrads, but can be met in other ways. If you are concerned on this, mentioned this early on.
  3. Initial Contact: Contact Dr. Albert ( or Dr. Honig ( by email or in person. If we haven’t met, sometimes it’s helpful to orient us with a brief description of your interests and career goals, and even a CV if you have one handy. No need for a project at this stage, we just need you on our radar.
  4. Go over course logistics: We will probably orient you to these materials, but feel free to check the following course logistics to see if such an arrangement is suitable to you. Feel free to ask questions.
    1. Research Calendar (currently Spring 2014)
    2. Research Course Mechanics
    3. Lab software setup (this may differ depending on your project)
    4. And early on in the semester, we’ll work on a research proposal together, so consider looking into this requirement early.
  5. Obtain formal course approval: If this is all reasonable to you after getting your questions answered, and you have approval from Dr. Albert [or Dr. Honig], please send the following email. It is a formality required to signing up for independent study courses.
    • TO: Prof Albert ( [or Prof Honig (]
    • CC: Jean Rom (the department administrator,
    • SUBJECT: Independent Study Request
    • Please enroll me for 3 credits of Independent Study in your COMP [388 or 488] section for Spring 2014. Sincerely, [your name].
  6. Follow up: The department will respond to indicate our approval of your request, after which an administrative override will be performed to allow you to enroll in our section. At this stage, you are done! After this, we will make sure our efforts will move forward at a reasonable pace throughout the semester.