Missouri State University

Foundation Award for Research

Sheryl Brahnam

Dr. S. Berlin Brahnam

College of Business
Computer Information Systems

I.  Focus of Research

Much of my research is in medical decision support systems (DSS). My most important contribution in this area is a project that explored machine assessment of neonatal pain based on facial expressions using state-of-the-art machine learning technologies. Additional work in medical DSS includes collaborative studies with the Universities of Bologna and Padua, Italy, that propose new cancer detection systems, vaccine development, and protein and microarray classification.  Related to the technologies used in my work in medical DSS is work in biometrics: face, fingerprint, and palm print classification. I have also worked on the detection of pedestrians in busy streets and in the area of human action classification. In the area of human-computer-interaction (HCI), I have explored the “verbal abuse” of nonhuman conversational agents. I am also interested in rhetoric (especially the concept of ethos in computer communications) and in mediation theory.  In “To hear−To Say: The Mediating Presence of the Healing Witness,” published in AI & Society, I explored mediation in light of trauma theory, discovering that modern media and computer-mediated communication present people with raw, undigested experiences (much like the experiences of trauma) that discourage the imaginative, unlike writing, which digests experience, thus fostering imaginative responses and narrative memory.

II.  Major Projects

Since arriving at Missouri State University in 2002, I have averaged more than four journal/book chapter publications per year and have published an average of two to three additional refereed papers per year in conferences. I have published 94 papers/abstracts. Not counting the abstracts, I have published 74 refereed papers while at Missouri State University. I have also edited four books, two on virtual reality and rehabilitation, one on medical decisions support systems, and one on a special texture descriptor for image analysis. Below I highlight some of the projects I have worked on since 2002.

2003 to present. Developed the pilot Infant COPE (Classification of Pain Expressions) database and evaluation protocols (papers published in Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, Decision Support Systems, and conferences).

2004 to present. Worked with an international team on the “verbal abuse” of nonhuman conversational agents (agent abuse) (papers published in CHI, Interacting with Computers, Interaction Studies, workshops, and conferences).

2005 to present. Began machine learning collaborations with University of Bologna and Padua, with a focus on ensembles, local binary patterns and variants, and their application in biometrics, bioinformatics, and medical DSS (papers published in Neural Computing & Application, Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Expert Systems with Applications, Amino Acids, IET Electronics Letters, Pattern Recognition, Pattern Recognition Letters, Bioinformatics, Journal of King Saud University, and many conferences).

2008 to present. Began investigating rhetoric and HCI (papers published in PsychNology and conferences in many disciplines).

2009. Established the MSU NB Vision and Machine Learning Lab.

2010-2012. Worked on projects in the area of Gender HCI (feminist perspectives) with Dr. Weaver and Dr. Karanikas in the English department (paper published in Interacting with Computers). Also worked with colleagues in the CIS department on empirical studies that investigate gender differences in conflict resolution styles among CIS students and professionals.

2010 to present. Began work investigating virtual reality and theory-guided psychotherapy (published two edited books on topic as well as conference papers).

2011 to present. Began work in the theory of mediation (published in AI & Society and conferences).

III.  Future Directions of Research

  • Continued work in machine learning (ensemble systems) and applications in biometrics, bioinformatics, medical DSS, etc.
  • Currently working on a new infant COPE database.
  • Currently working on papers that explore ethical anthropomorphism.
  • Currently working on papers investigating virtual reality and psychotherapy: theoretical and practical work.


IV.  Topics related to your research and of interest to the broad University Community, for which you are available for presentations and/or consultations.

Medical Decision Support Systems, Bioinformatics, Biometrics (face recognition, pain detection, and fingerprint recognition), Computer Abuse, Virtual Reality (in health care).