Laboratory of Applications in Informatics and Analytics

Mentor: Mahdi Belcaid

STEM Fields: Artificial Intelligence, Computational Biology; Bioinformatics; Computer Science; Data Analytics; Data Visualization.

Internship Research Goal: Using computer science, data science and analytics, interns will build and refine a computer program to collect data, build a machine learning or AI model for a relevant problem.

Website: Coming Soon

UHM logo Green seal of torch and book icon, the words “malamalama 1907,” encircled with the words “University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono”About Laboratory of Applications in Informatics and Analytics

The Laboratory of Applications in Informatics and Analytics works on the development of software and applications for the analysis of very large and complex datasets. Typically these datasets are generated in the domains of biology and ecology and involve creating tools to not only analyze the data but also create and test hypotheses pertaining to them. 

Current research projects generate such huge amounts of data that traditional statistical tools are no longer viable. Thus there is a growing dependence on computational tools in research such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. The Laboratory of Applications in Informatics and Analytics is ideally suited to fulfill this role in that it combines both the domain sciences of biology and ecology with computer science. 

Headshot image of person.Meet Our Internship Mentor: Mahdi Belcaid

Dr. Mahdi Belcaid is an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with a joint appointment between the College of Natural Sciences and the Hawaiʻi Institute for Marine Biology. He focuses primarily on data from genetic and genomic biological experiments. Much of his work involves crossing scientific domains and boundaries to generate unique inferences and hypotheses. 

Dr. Belcaid completed his university studies in Montreal, Canada and his PhD at the University of Hawaiʻi where he has remained for the last 16 years. Most of his work centers around computational biology, with applications ranging from tropical medicine, viral ecology and coral research. 

While he originally was studying to be a computer scientist, he had the opportunity to apply computer science to better understand wheat biology. This experience opened him up to the idea of combining data analytics (i.e., the process of analyzing lots of raw data) and bio-sciences. His studies with wheat led to an opportunity to work in Hawaiʻi with the papaya genome, and 16 years later he continues to pursue projects in Hawaiʻi. 

The work Mahdi is involved in directly impacts the local community in the areas of health and marine resource management. He finds it immensely rewarding to contribute to solutions that benefit the health and well-being of a people and environment that he cares so much about.

Internship duties and responsibilities

Students will have a primarily computer-based experience – this is a dry lab with no direct involvement with biological specimens. They can expect to be involved in projects that will include data collection, building computer models and testing hypotheses involving visual data. Techniques used will include machine learning and artificial intelligence to count target objects.

Example: Build and then refine a computer program (artificial intelligence model) that will count the number of people in a particular area or photos. Students will also learn how this technology can be used in different settings – such as counting coral or defects in products.

Interns should be comfortable with and able to:

  • Work on a team.
  • Communicate with others.
  • Work with computers
  • Have experience with Python programming (optional, not required).

2024 Internship Schedule: 

  • Spring 2024: Tuesdays, March 12th & April 2nd 3:30pm – 7:30 pm
  • Summer 2024: June 3rd – 14th Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 12:30pm

*Schedules are tentative and are subject to change. Interns will be required to work 8 hours in the Spring 2024. Interns will be required to work 40 hours in the Summer 2024. 

Internship Meeting Location: 

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Pacific Ocean Science and Technology (POST) Building, 306
1680 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822A