Dr. Zhou and students summer research

Dr. Qihou Zhou, Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department chair and professor at Miami, has recently been working with a small group of students researching machine learning techniques. 

He currently has three students working with him: Allison Jacob, a rising junior, Jonathan Hagan, a graduate student, and Huan Le, a rising senior. 

Zhou, who has been at Miami since 2002, is working with these students using machine learning techniques to identify a person’s heart condition based on their PCG (phonocardiogram). Their end goal is to be able to diagnose a person’s heart condition accurately using the data gathered by the machine and other background health info. 

One challenge Dr. Qihou has found during their research is competing with other researchers that are coming up with similar projects and information. Undergraduate students being the main helpers on research is something that he sees as both a challenge and an advantage. It can be difficult as they don’t have much experience doing research, but they are gaining opportunities not found at most universities. 

Allison Jacob, who has been working closely alongside Dr. Zhou, also had a lot to say about her experience working on the PCG project.  Representational art of heart anatomy above a graph showing blood pressure and volume of the heart

Allison is part of the Undergraduate Summer Scholars (USS) Program. She had originally planned on doing research but had trouble finding an opportunity due to the Covid pandemic. Then she heard about Tea Time. 

Tea Time is something that many departments on Miami’s campus participate in. It is a meeting where the students can sit with faculty, have snacks, and discuss goings on within the department.

Allison attended an ECE Tea Time, which Dr. Zhou runs. There she got the information she had been looking for to finally help her join the USS program. She also found out about his research with the PCG project, which she was immediately interested in. 

Jacobs said she first started assisting in the research with Dr. Zhou in the spring semester of this year. Since then, she has learned quite a lot, especially about machine learning. 

Allison, double majoring in ECE and Music, said there were a lot of things involved with this research that she had yet to gain experience with. She says working with this is “doing a lot of reading, asking a lot of questions, and then using what I do know to be able to apply that in new ways”.

Allison also spoke very highly of Dr. Zhou and his work. “He is a great mentor, and he definitely encourages us, challenges us, and I'm really glad I went to a tea time and got to meet him because it's definitely just a really good experience overall.” 

For any student looking to do research, don’t be afraid to research out to people in the department and participate in events. 

By Kayleigh Schauseil, CEC Reporter