Lindsey named CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Male Researcher Award finalist

image of Aaron LindseyComputer science graduate Aaron Lindsey was selected as a finalist for the 2015 Computing Research Association's (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Male Researcher Award. Lindsey is one of four finalists from Ph.D.-granting institutions in North America. The CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher awards recognizes students who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research.

Lindsey is recognized for his research in motion planning and its applications in studying molecular motions. In particular, his research dealt with studying how we might be able to adapt techniques first developed for robot motion planning to improve "decoy sets" used in developing energy functions that are used in protein structure prediction algorithms.

Lindsey's work developed a new method to evaluate and improve the quality of decoy databases by adding novel structures and/or removing redundant structures. He tested the approach on different decoy databases of varying size and type and showed significant improvement across a variety of metrics. This work potentially has great impact since predicting protein structures and simulating protein folding motions are two of the most important problems in computational biology today.

Dr. Nancy M. Amato, Unocal Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, is his faculty mentor. He also worked closely with Dr. Shawna Thomas, a TEES assistant research scientist in CSE

"I am very impressed with him in all aspects — he is overall one of the best students I have worked with in my career," said Amato,, who nominated Lindsey for the award. "In addition to being really smart and an efficient worker, Aaron is also a leader and good citizen."

Commenting on his success, Lindsey said, "I am blessed to have such great mentors and colleagues."

In 2014 Lindsey co-authored two research papers: "Improving Decoy Databases for Protein Folding Algorithms" with Hsin-Yi Yeh, Chih-Peng Wu, Shawna L. Thomas, and Amato, that was published in a workshop associated with the ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Health Informatics, and "UMAPRM: Uniformly Sampling the Medial Axis" with Hsin-Yi Yeh, Jory Denny, Shawna L. Thomas, and Nancy M. Amato that was published in the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, which is the flagship conference of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. His senior thesis was "Improving Decoy Databases for Protein Folding Algorithms."

His many honors and awards include the 2014 CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Honorable Mention Award and scholarships from Aggieland Bound and the CSE Industrial Affiliates Program. Lindsey was a member of the ACE Scholars Program, the CSE honors program, and a dedicated peer teacher in the CSE department. He was awarded membership in the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society for earning a GPA of at least 3.5 during his first year of college, and he was the technology chair for Texas A&M's Honors Student Council. In December 2014, Lindsey graduated with a 3.92 GPA and a bachelor's degree in computer science. He is planning on working for a bit before he returns to graduate school.

This year's CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award program was sponsored by Microsoft Research. More information about this award may be found at http://www.cra.org/awards/undergrad.