GradImpact: Mentorship is the Foundation of a Constructive Research Partnership

    Truong Xuan Tran’s academic path has been defined by transition. He began his undergraduate career as an electronic and telecommunications engineering student at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology in Vietnam. In 2010, he decided to make two important life changes: to attend graduate school in the United States and to change his research area to computer science. He would need to learn a new discipline and academic culture simultaneously.


    Both of Tran’s decisions paid off, however. He thrived in his master’s program in computer science at Arkansas State University, so much so, that he was accepted into a doctoral program in computer science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Positive mentorship has eased Tran’s transition into doctoral work. His advisor, Ramazan Aygun, is a leading computer scientist in the field of protein crystallization and has co-written academic papers with Tran and invited him to present alongside him at conferences.


    “Protein crystallization is a difficult process where thousands of trials may need to be set up for a successful crystalline outcome," Aygun noted. Computer models can speed these trials but may introduce errors. Aygun and Tran have introduced a novel decision-tree classifier – “else-tree” – that reduces the misclassification of data samples by labeling them as undecided instead of misidentifying them as another class. “The key point of the else-tree is that it postpones difficult data to classify by sending them to its else branch until a good attribute can classify those samples,” Tran concluded.


    Though their collaboration has already proved fruitful, Tran and Aygun have an ambitious forthcoming research agenda. “We plan to investigate the proposed algorithm on other types of problems such as multi-class classification," says Tran. "We will examine the effectiveness of our method on other datasets. Especially, we will work on improving the else-tree to reduce the percentage of undecided samples while keeping the error minimum by working on other datasets." To learn more about Tran’s work visit The University of Alabama in Huntsville website.


    Visit the GradImpact Feature Gallery to learn more about the amazing, innovative research being done by graduate students and alumni across the world.


    Photo Credit: Truong Xuan Tran



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