L.I.F.E. Foundation Fellowship


Student Bio & Research

Shawn Huesman


I am a student at Northern Kentucky University majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. I have lived in my hometown, Bellevue, Kentucky, for most of my life. I went to Bellevue High School and during my Junior year of high school, I was fortunate enough to participate in the School Based Scholars program as a full-time student at NKU. I chose to take some programming courses because I have always had an interest in computers. I loved every second of it! Before I knew it, I was deep within an exciting new world of problem solving and invention.

Not only did I fall in love with Computer Science, but I fell in love with NKU. The more time I spend at NKU, the more I feel like it is my home away from home. Professors are always easily accessible and love to talk to students. I feel like I could come up with any question and I could find someone who knows, or can help me find, the answer. Furthermore, I have been astonished by the opportunities available here. I feel like there is always something new and valuable around the corner to be involved in.

The L.I.F.E. Fellowship has helped me focus on my academic and professional goals. I have recently completed an internship at General Electric and I have been researching the spread of misinformation through Twitter for the past three semesters at NKU with Dr. Campan and Dr. Truta. Last summer, I participated in a REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at the University of Southern California in the Information Sciences Institute with Dr. Emilio Ferrara. I researched how Instagram images become manipulated through time during a period of societal unrest. I learned a lot about image clustering, image hashes, and parallel programming. I am immensely grateful for the opportunities that the L.I.F.E. Fellowship has given me. Thank you so much!


Topic: Spread of Misinformation Through Twitter
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Alina Campan & Dr. Marius Truta, NKU
Subtopic 1: Relevant Vaccine Keywords
Summary: Developed Python programs to determine the relevancy of a manually made list/lexicon of keywords related to vaccines found in Tweets.
Subtopic 2: Presidential Candidate Sentiments
Summary: Used machine learning libraries to create programs with Python to determine the sentiment of a Tweet’s text.
Overall topic summary: Researched the spread of misinformation through Twitter by developing Python programs to collect, clean, and analyze tweets and utilized MongoDB database to store tweets.

Topic: Similar/Duplicate Instagram Images
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Emilio Ferrara, USC
Summary: Collected over 180K images on Instagram and developed Python programs to create image hashes and then cluster similar images together to analyze how similar images are transformed and manipulated over time on social media during a period of unrest.

Shawn Huesman, the sophomore LIFE Fellow, is a co-author of a paper that was just accepted to a major conference (IEEE Big Data). Considering he did this work while only a freshman, it’s kind of impressive. Read it here:

Collecting Domain-Relevant Tweets: Creation and Application of a New Framework
Alina Campan, Traian Marius Truta, Shawn Huesman, Celine Wardrop, Alyssa Appelman, “Collecting Domain-Relevant Tweets: Creation and Application of a New Framework,” International Workshop on Deviant Activities on Social Media (DEVIANCE) In Conjunction with IEEE International Big Data Conference, Virtual Conference, 2020.

Student Bio & Research

Ludiana Atnafu


I am a Junior at Northern Kentucky University majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Biology. I was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I came to Northern Kentucky University as an international student after finishing high school in my country. I was very excited to be part of NKU’s community, because I knew I would get all the support and resources I need to succeed in my education. Alongside focusing on my academics, I wanted to be involved in the various leadership activities on campus.

Throughout my time in college, I was able to be part of various organizations, namely the African Student Union, the International Student Union and the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society. In addition, I was able to gain a diverse work experience on campus as a Teaching Assistant for the Computer Science Department, a COI Ambassador, a Resident Assistant, an Orientation Leader and as a Student Assistant for the Steely Library. Towards the end of my freshmen year, I was given an amazing opportunity to become a L.I.F.E fellow.

The L.I.F.E Fellowship program gave me the opportunity to pursue my minor in Biology and enabled me to explore ways I can use computer science to solve day-to-day problems. This program also gave me the opportunity to do research within the computer science department, which enabled me to better understand the field I am studying and gave me a real time experience on ways I can apply what I have learned in class. Moreover, the program provided me with a very generous scholarship that greatly relieved my financial burden. I am very grateful for this scholarship as it has enabled me to have my full focus on my education and encouraged me to continue pursuing my dreams. Thank you!


Topic: Secure Programming Bot
Faculty Advisor: Dr. James Walden, NKU
Summary: We are focusing on creating a chatbot that can answer questions regarding secure programming. This chatbot is especially helpful for web programmers to avoid writing vulnerable code and providing them with a reliable source of resource. We are currently working on improving some features of the bot like creating a web interface for it.