USF Volunteer Policy

Good morning, for all volunteer activities please make sure the process begins by contacting CoE HR prior to any action taking place.

The Volunteer Guidelines, Volunteer Service Application, and Volunteer Appointment forms are found on the Division of HR website:

Departments must  submit completed forms electronically to the Volunteer Service email address:


  1. Does an undergraduate/graduate student that wants to get research experience and spend some time in a lab as an unpaid researcher need a volunteer appointment?

[This will likely depend on a number of factors, including the type and nature of the research or other services to be performed.  Generally, whether an individual is a volunteer is a fact-specific inquiry.

For instance, if the individual volunteers his/her services for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, the research may qualify as volunteer work that would require a volunteer appointment.  If the individual is already being paid to perform the same type of research for which the individual proposes to volunteer, however, or if the research displaces a paid position that would otherwise be performing the research, the individual may not be considered a volunteer under USF’s Volunteer Guidelines and applicable law and may need to be paid. 

Finally, it is possible that the situation will not fall under either volunteer services or paid employment—such as research for a science fair or for other individual purposes that the University has reason to allow and encourage.  We are working on developing a simple registration process/form that can address these types of situations.] 

  1. Does a PhD student registered for directed research under the direction of a faculty member need a volunteer appointment?

[NO. This is not a volunteer.  This is part of the person’s academic program and education.]

  1. If a student registers for independent study and does research as part of that will he/she be considered a volunteer?

[NO. This is not a volunteer.  This is part of the person’s academic program and education.]

  1. What if a student is registered for a master’s thesis class, does he/she need to fill out volunteer forms or is this academic?

[NO. This is not a volunteer.  This is part of the person’s academic program and education.]

  1. Would a J-1 visiting scholar/intern require a volunteer appointment?

[NOT usually, This person is not a volunteer if he or she is doing research related to the reason they are here on a J-1. The J-1 documentation is all they need to do research in the field they are here for. However, if they volunteer to do work in other areas different from their Visa area, then they likely need to fill out volunteer documentation.]

  1. Please differentiate a volunteer from an internship, along with the requirements.

[As a general rule, an internship is something one does to develop skills in a profession; it has learning objectives.  In an internship one learns about the work of a profession.  Students typically get college credits, grades or payment in exchange for the internship work. 

By contrast, the driving force for a volunteer is a desire to help out. Volunteering is the act of voluntarily giving one’s time for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, and there is usually no tangible benefit from a volunteer opportunity, other than one’s satisfaction in helping others. Sometimes you can have an opportunity that is both a learning internship where one helps others as a volunteer. For example, a medical student interning in Guatemala- he or she may be getting medical education and experience, may even get college credits, while also helping others in the community.]

  1. Some MS students do research with the intent to write a thesis.  They usually work through their entire program but they only register for thesis hours their last semester – is this considered a volunteer?

[NO. This is not a volunteer.  This is part of the person’s academic program and education.]

Homology-Preserving Dimensionality Reduction via Manifold Landmarking and Tearing

Dimensionality reduction is an integral part of data visualization. It is a process that obtains a structure preserving low-dimensional representation of the high-dimensional data. Two common criteria can be used to achieve a dimensionality reduction: distance preservation and topology preservation. Inspired by recent work in topological data analysis, we are on the quest for a dimensionality reduction technique that achieves the criterion of homology preservation, a specific version of topology preservation. Specifically, we are interested in using topology-inspired manifold landmarking and manifold tearing to aid such a process and evaluate their effectiveness.

Homology-Preserving Dimensionality Reduction via Manifold Landmarking and Tearing
L Yan, Y Zhao, P Rosen, C Scheidegger, B Wang
Visualization in Data Science (VDS at IEEE VIS 2018)

TDA Software

Hera topological distance —


TopCat (multi-parameter persistence) —


Topology Tool Kit (TTK)

Please join us this Sunday afternoon for a half day tutorial on Topological Data Analysis with the open-source library “the Topology ToolKit” (TTK,, which is organized in the context of the IEEE VIS tutorials (

The tutorial material (including slides, data sets and virtual machines) is already available on the tutorial web page:

If you consider attending our tutorial, please bring your laptop!

In order to follow the hands-on sessions, we invite you to download the tutorial data package ( and to install *before the tutorial* the git master version of TTK (, see the instructions on the installation page: This installation procedure takes approximately 1 hour. Please feel free to contact the user mailing list ( if you encounter any issue.

Alternatively, you can choose the easier option of downloading a pre-installed Linux virtual machine containing all the necessary software and data packages (


Five Seniors presented Senior Project “Mixed Reality C-130 Loadmaster Simulation for CAE USA”

Alan Rodriguez, David Baerg, Jessica Womble, Ryan McBride, and Sara Savitz represented USF College of Engineering at the 2018 Florida-Wide Student Engineering Design Invitational held at UCF on April 19th. The students exhibited their BEST project titled “Mixed Reality C-130 Loadmaster Simulation for CAE USA”. The Mixed Reality C-130 Loadmaster simulator, created by a team of USF Computer Science and Engineering students, uses augmented reality, incorporating both the real world and virtual reality into one view, to achieve an immersive training experience for a fraction of the cost. The Loadmaster trainee is responsible for safely loading and deploying cargo from a C-130 cargo bay.

The project was supervised by Assistant Professor Paul Rosen and was supported by CAE USA.

Link to the original article

Visual detection of structural changes in time-varying graphs using persistent homology

Topological data analysis is an emerging area in exploratory data analysis and data mining. Its main tool, persistent homology, has become a popular technique to study the structure of complex, high-dimensional data. In this paper, we propose a novel method using persistent homology to quantify structural changes in time-varying graphs. Specifically, we transform each instance of the time-varying graph into metric spaces, extract topological features using persistent homology, and compare those features over time. We provide a visualization that assists in time-varying graph exploration and helps to identify patterns of behavior within the data. To validate our approach, we conduct several case studies on real world data sets and show how our method can find cyclic patterns, deviations from those patterns, and one-time events in time-varying graphs. We also examine whether persistence-based similarity measure as a graph metric satisfies a set of well-established, desirable properties for graph metrics.

Visual detection of structural changes in time-varying graphs using persistent homology
Mustafa Hajij, Bei Wang, Carlos Scheidegger, Paul Rosen
IEEE Pacific Visualization Symposium (PacificVis) 2018

DSPCP: A data scalable approach for identifying relationships in parallel coordinates

Parallel coordinates plots (PCPs) are a well-studied technique for exploring multi-attribute datasets. In many situations, users find them a flexible method to analyze and interact with data. Unfortunately, using PCPs becomes challenging as the number of data items grows large or multiple trends within the data mix in the visualization. The resulting overdraw can obscure important features. A number of modifications to PCPs have been proposed, including using color, opacity, smooth curves, frequency, density, and animation to mitigate this problem. However, these modified PCPs tend to have their own limitations in the kinds of relationships they emphasize. We propose a new data scalable design for representing and exploring data relationships in PCPs. The approach exploits the point/line duality property of PCPs and a local linear assumption of data to extract and represent relationship summarizations. This approach simultaneously shows relationships in the data and the consistency of those relationships. Our approach supports various visualization tasks, including mixed linear and nonlinear pattern identification, noise detection, and outlier detection, all in large data. We demonstrate these tasks on multiple synthetic and real-world datasets.

DSPCP: A data scalable approach for identifying relationships in parallel coordinates
H Nguyen, P Rosen
IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics 24 (3), 1301-1315

The Shape of an Image – A Study of Mapper on Images

We study the topological construction called Mapper in the context of simply connected domains, in particular on images. The Mapper construction can be considered as a generalization for contour, split, and joint trees on simply connected domains. A contour tree on an image domain assumes the height function to be a piecewise linear Morse function. This is a rather restrictive class of functions and does not allow us to explore the topology for most real world images. The Mapper construction avoids this limitation by assuming only continuity on the height function allowing this construction to robustly deal with a significant larger set of images. We provide a customized construction for Mapper on images, give a fast algorithm to compute it, and show how to simplify the Mapper structure in this case. Finally, we provide a simple procedure that guarantees the equivalence of Mapper to contour, join, and split trees on a simply connected domain.

The Shape of an Image: A Study of Mapper on Images
Alejandro Robles, Mustafa Hajij, and Paul Rosen
International Joint Conference on Computer Vision, Imaging and Computer Graphics Theory and Applications (VISIGRAPP) 2018

Conferences and Journals


March 31 – IEEE VAST/InfoVis/SciVis

April (odd numbered years) – TopoInVis

Late September – IEEE Pacific Visualization

Early December – EG EuroVis

Rolling – IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG)

IEEE Vis paper list since 1990 and acceptance rates



January – SIGRRAPH

February – Computer Graphics International

Virtual Reality Software and Technology (VRST)


March – Shape Modeling International (SMI)

July – ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (SODA)

August – Symposium on Simplicity in Algorithms (SOSA)

December – Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG)

Computer Aided Design

January – CAD Conference and Exhibition

Rolling – Computer Aided Design and Applications