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Faculty of Business and Information Technology project summaries


Nelson Amaral Andrew Hogue Bill Kapralos Amirali Salehi-Abari Miguel Vargas Martin
Khalil El-Khatib Stephen Jackson Alvaro Joffre Uribe Quevedo Serena Sohrab
Shahram S. Heydari Ying (Annie) Jiang Amir Rastpour Julie Thorpe



Supervisor name: Nelson Amaral, PhD

Project title: Interactive Marketing Campaign Effectiveness

Summary of the research project: The research is concerned with measuring the extent to which participating, as opposed to viewing, an interactive marketing campaign influences brand-self relationships (the extent to which a consumer feels a personal connection with the brand engaging the consumer in the interactive campaign).

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The student should be interested in learning about the entire research process. The selected student would:

  • Assist in the design of the survey.
  • Under the professors' guidance, be responsible for the collection, analysis and reporting of survey data.
  • Present research findings at an academic conference in Fall 2020.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

  • An interest in the topic and, more generally in marketing research.
  • A minimum GPA of 3.3 is preferred.  


Supervisor name: Khalil El-Khatib, PhD

Project title: Analysis of Darknet Data for Threat Intelligence

Summary of research project:The rapid advancement and adoption of various Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) (including cloud computing, mobile communication, wireless sensor networks, cyber-physical systems, Internet of Things (IoT), and fog computing), have resulted in systems and processes that can generate and store huge amounts of data, commonly referred to as big data. Previously, we have designed and published an architecture that can leverage the wealth in the multi-source information for security intelligence. The objective of this research project is to develop and evaluate a prototype of the architecture using Darknet data.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The student will be required to develop the architecture and dashboard using Python, and to evaluate its performance on Darknet data.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

  • Networking and security skills.
  • Good development skills.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Teamwork skills. 


Supervisor name: Shahram S. Heydari, PhD

Project title: Programmable Secure Software-Defined Networks

Summary of the research project:  The objective of this project is to study, design, and implement a programmable network environment in which various network functions and security policies can be deployed to programmable protocol-independent packet processor (P4) enabled programmable switches. P4 switches are designed to execute run-time programs that are downloaded to them by a controller. This new technology is expected to replace most of the current network infrastructure within the next decade. We aim to develop and evaluate P4 programs that could be used to deploy network functions for security and access control, congestion mitigation, and failure recovery.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

  • Implement a virtual environment for deploying P4 programs.
  • Create and test P4 programs for implementing security and network control policies.
  • Write a detailed user guide on how to use the virtual environment.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

  • Must have completed the following courses with B+ or higher:
    • Networking
    • Object-Oriented Programming
  • Experience in virtualization technology and setting up virtual environments.
  • Proficient in Linux system environment set up and management.
  • Familiarity with Python programming and Software-Defined Networks (SDN) is an asset.


Supervisor name: Andrew Hogue, PhD

Project title: Exploring Interfaces for Virtual Reality Painting and Sculpting

Summary of the research project:  In this project, we will be investigating and developing interfaces for painting and sculpting in virtual reality (VR). We will explore the use of fluid dynamics toolkits and signed distance field representations to build the underlying mechanisms for rendering and interaction with the medium.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The student will be tasked with the following: 

  • Finding and reading relevant research papers.
  • Building prototypes in Unity and/or Unreal for fluid painting.
  • Working with an existing prototype we have developed and building new techniques.
  • Exploring the use of haptics for simulating forces/pressure of the medium.
  • Working with colleagues from OCAD University to investigate and explore real painting techniques with oils, acrylics, and wax.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

  • Familiarity with Unity/Unreal development.
  • Have an interest in developing tools for artists.
  • Have good math and problem-solving skills.
  • Work well with others.
  • C/C++ skills would be an asset. 


Supervisor name: Stephen Jackson, PhD

Project title: Impression management strategies used by business managers when responding to a data breach incident

Summary of the research project:  The proliferation of data breaches has led to the uptake of mandatory data breach notification laws in North America. It is not surprising that cyber security issues are among the current top concerns among business professionals and data security experts. Notwithstanding the importance of data breach research, much of the focus to date has been on the technical side, with data breach response strategies, from the perspective of impression management, being a nascent area of study. Consequently, the aim is to understand the impression management strategies used by firms when responding to a data breach incident.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

  • Compile a set of data breach notification letters consisting of North American firms. This will involve converting letters from PDF to an appropriate format, formatting text (if necessary) and checking that the letters conform to appropriate standards.
  • Collect relevant data to measure impression management tactics, firm characteristics, as well as other relevant background information pertaining to the organization/data breach. This will involve recording relevant data using Microsoft Excel.
  • Conduct a literature review relating to the areas of impression management and behavioural information security.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

Be able to use Microsoft Excel.


Supervisor name: Ying (Annie) Jiang, PhD

 Project title: Are Loyal Customers More Forgiving After Service Failures?

Summary of the research project:  Are long-time loyal customers more forgiving than other customers after a service failure? Previous research finds that consumers who have a true service relationship with a service provider are more forgiving and less likely to switch to other service providers after a poorly handled service failure. However, that finding was based on two scenario-based experiments, i.e., not customers’ real experiences and feelings. Given a large amount of customer review data being online nowadays, we believe it is necessary to validate that research finding by using online customer review data that reflects a customers’ real experience.

Student responsibilities/tasks: 

  • Literature review
    • Search and review the literature on customer loyalty and the impact of loyalty on customers' perception of product/service failure, price change, and etc.
  • Learning online data collection and text mining:
    • Learn how to collect online customer review data and process such data using text mining software.
  • Data collection:
    • Identify the product/service for the current research and download the online customer review data.
  • Data analysis:
    • Create a list of key words and use that list in the text mining process.
  • Research report:
    • Summarize this research by completing a 12-page research report and/or a poster.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills): 

  • A third-year Bachelor of Commerce student currently with a minimum GPA of 3.3.
  • Self-motivated and eager to learn how to use text mining software.
  • Excellent analytical and critical thinking skills. 


Supervisor name: Bill Kapralos, PhD

Project title: Immersive technologies and serious gaming for medical education and training

Summary of the research project:  Working with health professionals (e.g., surgeons, doctors, nurses) and health professions educators, this work will involve the development of a serious game (or part of a serious game) that incorporates immersive technologies (augmented reality/virtual reality) for health professions education.

Student responsibilities/tasks: 

  • Software (game) development.
  • Working in an interdisciplinary team.
  • Conducting basic research and possibly preparing a literature review.
  • Completing a report and possibly contributing to a publication that will be submitted to a conference.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills): 

  • Programming knowledge/background.
  • 3D modeling is an asset but not required.
  • A passion for learning is the most important qualification. 


Supervisor name: Alvaro Joffre Uribe Quevedo, PhD

Project title: Development of an interactive virtual reality task completion assessment tool employing eye/head-mounted display (HMD) tracking attention with gestures and gamepad inputs

Summary of the research project:  Off-the-shelf virtual reality (VR) technologies are providing wireless solutions that provide more natural interactions by increasing freedom of movement. However, VR developments are characterized to present one-size-fits-all experiences with little customization to provide more accessible and inclusive scenarios. This project focuses on the development of a VR tool that gathers eye and HMD tracking information for studying attention points when performing pick and place tasks in VR when employing game controllers and hand tracking, with the goal of assessing attention points to design improved interaction heuristics.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The student will be responsible for:

  • Conducting a literature review to get familiar with past, present and current trends in VR development.
  • Design an interactive scene for performing pick and place tasks (e.g., a medical procedure, nuclear safety training, or a game interaction).
  • Integrate eye, HMD, hand, and game controller tracking metrics for identifying points of interest.
  • Identify VR interactive difficulties and propose heuristics for scene improvement using the tracking data.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

All of the following requirements are desired, but not mandatory:

  • C++/C# or other object-oriented programming languages.
  • Unity game engine basics.
  • Eager about virtual reality development.
  • Passionate about emerging technologies.
  • Arduino, 3D printing, and open electronics basics. 


Supervisor name: Amir Rastpour, PhD

Project title: The operational status of emergency medical services in Canada

Summary of the research project:   Management of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), AKA ambulance services, is a complex task that involves many operational aspects, including the coverage of calls within medically-acceptable periods, ambulance and crew scheduling, and providing contingency plans for ambulance shortage periods. In Canada, EMS jurisdictions provide reports locally, but it is not clear how these jurisdictions' performance compare with each other (even a common terminology is lacking). The aim of this research is to survey EMS reports of Canadian cities and to shed light on their performance and on operational lessons they can learn from each other.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The student will have three tasks: 

  1. To study and learn EMS operations management and to become familiar with the operational challenges that EMS faces in Canada, for example, the frequent and dangerously-long ambulance shortage periods.
  2. To study and summarize reports from EMS jurisdictions on their performance.
  3. To draft an academic article.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

The student must have good quantitative skills, and thus excellent marks in Mathematics, Statistics, and other quantitative courses are expected. The student must have experience working with industry to be able to make sense of technical EMS reports; thus, co-op or similar experiences are required. The student must have good writing and communication skills. 


Supervisor name: Amirali Salehi-Abari, PhD

Project title: Unlocking Recommender Systems for Privacy and Security Domains

Summary of the research project:   Recommender systems are prevalent in our day-to-day life. They intelligently recommend desirable options to us (e.g., books in Amazon, movies on Netflix, etc.), which are consistent with our own taste or preferences. However, little attention is given to the development and design of recommendation systems that assist users in making reliable privacy and security decisions that have high-impact on users’ lives. Our research mission is to design and develop artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, technologies, and systems that pave the way for the development of recommendation systems for high-impact privacy and security decisions.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The candidate is expected to review the relevant research literature along with other team members. The candidate also will be heavily involved in the development of the AI technologies and will co-author the consequent paper written from their involvement in this project. This project provides a unique opportunity to the candidate for fostering his/her knowledge in AI and computer security and privacy.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

We are looking for a motivated and curious undergraduate student to pursue this research with us and be part of bringing the next generation of recommender systems to life. The applicant should:

  • Have an operational knowledge of and practical experience in web development.
  • Be an excellent communicator and team worker.

 For technical knowledge/experience, the applicant is expected to have valuable skills in: 

  • Web development technologies, both back-end and front-end.
  • Python/MySQL or MongoDB.
  • Familiarity with deep learning libraries (e.g., TensorFlow, Pytorch, etc.) is an asset but not a requirement. 


Supervisor name: Serena Sohrab, PhD

Project title: Does a longer maternity leave benefit or harm a woman?

Summary of the research project:   In 2017, Canada increased the duration of paternity leave from 12 months to 18 months. While this move was motivated by the desire to enhance women's status at work, there is some evidence suggesting that the extended maternity leave can, in fact, harm a woman's career. In this project, in collaboration with two researchers in the US, I am working on developing a better understanding of the consequences of this policy. We wish to understand the impact of this policy on a woman's career and overall wellbeing; furthermore, we examine other factors, such as the father's involvement, on the effectiveness of this policy.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

In this project, you will have the opportunity to get involved in a wide range of research activities including literature review, data collection and data analysis.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

Applicants should be of second-year standing by the time of project initiation (May 2020).

The only requirement for this position is a willingness to learn and grow. Depending on your interests, you can get involved in a wide range of activities.

Knowledge of statistics and Microsoft Excel would be an asset.


Supervisor name: Julie Thorpe, PhD

Project title: AI-enabled Password Meters

Summary of the research project:  Passwords are important for user authentication alone or in combination with other approaches such as password managers, biometrics, or multi-factor authentication. Many approaches have been proposed to measure password security through password guessing (cracking) however, understanding how attackers would combine these approaches for an optimal password cracking solution has received little attention. This project will study relationships between password cracking programs and how to optimally combine them to measure password security more accurately.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

  • Studying the code of existing password guessing and password meter programs.
  • Running experiments using high-performance GPU-accelerated servers.
  • Analyzing a large amount of data (experimental results).
  • Designing and implementing Al-enabled password measurement approaches.

 Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills): 

  • Experience programming in Python (A grade of A- or greater in a relevant course or related work experience).
  • Experience reading, understanding, and working with other developer’s code.
  • Interest in Computer Security and artificial intelligence (Al). 


Supervisor name: Miguel Vargas Martin, PhD

Project title: Towards Artificial Empathy - Processing Human Emotions through Deep Learning

Summary of the research project:  This project consists of inferring human emotions by combining facial expression and voice vocals using deep learning techniques of artificial intelligence (AI). The student will join a research team to work with companion robots such as Zenbo or Temi, which have cameras and microphones that can capture their human companion's features during a human-machine interaction. The applications of artificial empathy are many, ranging from assisting vulnerable people who live alone, to healthcare patients with a wide range of conditions, from dementia to frail elders.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The student will perform the following tasks: 

  • Develop the Python code to process facial expressions and vocals.
  • Develop the data processing code to prepare the data for deep learning.
  • Use Python and TensorFlow 2.0 code to analyze the data using deep learning.
  • Analyze data and generate progress reports which are presented and discussed with the research team on a weekly basis.
  • Write publishable research papers that document all the work done under this project.
  • Keep and maintain a GitHub repository where all the code of this project is to be posted. 

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills): 

  • Strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work in a dynamic environment and in groups.
  • Strong Python skills.
  • Experience with machine learning techniques.
  • Experience with TensorFlow is an asset but not required.
  • Experience programming companion robots is an asset but not required.