CLEMSON — Clemson University Ph.D. student Byron Lowens is among just 200 young researchers from around the world selected to participate in this year’s Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Heidelberg, Germany.

The weeklong forum Sept. 23-28 allows the world’s top young mathematicians and computer scientists to meet the most accomplished scientists in their fields: recipients of the Abel Prize, the ACM A.M. Turing Award, the ACM Prize for Computing, the Fields Medal and the Nevanlinna Prize.

Byron Lowens

Byron Lowens

“It will be profound, a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Lowens said. “All of these laureates were, at some point, a graduate student just like I am now. The opportunity to meet with some of the great minds of the fields of computer science and mathematics is indeed a rewarding experience.”

Lowens is pursuing a doctorate in human-centered computing under the guidance of Kelly Caine, associate professor in the School of Computing. When not conducting research, Lowens is actively involved in the Clemson and surrounding community. He regularly volunteers to introduce students — particularly minority students traditionally underrepresented in the field — to computing and offer guidance about life in general.

“The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth,” Lowens said. “True success is not attained through what we gain from material possessions, but by leading a fulfilling life. To me, there is nothing more fulfilling than knowing I have made a difference in the life of someone else. The little success that I have attained has been supported by others who have taken the time to inspire and uplift me. It is my due diligence to lift others as I continue to climb.”

That commitment is one of the reasons Caine nominated Lowens for the Heidelberg forum.

Kelly Caine

Kelly Caine

“Aside from Byron’s academic excellence and scientific talent, I know Byron will bring this experience back to the community and it will have far-reaching impacts,” Caine said. “Byron will use this experience to inspire people to pursue computer science or whatever their dreams might be.”

For his Ph.D. research, Lowens is investigating behaviors associated with the use of wearable technologies that track, report and archive users’ health and fitness activity. While these devices can help to improve user health and well-being, they also open new avenues for privacy information to be shared.

Through his research, Lowens hopes to inform the development of human-centered interaction techniques that can be incorporated into any wearable device allowing users to maintain granular control over their personal health information while alleviating concerns associated with the unintentional usage of their personal health data stored on wearable technologies.

“Some users may be under the impression that health data generated by wearable devices is only available to them,” Lowens said. “But the device manufacturers, cell phone providers and others may be able to access health-related data, in some cases even for malicious intent. It is important to develop privacy-enhanced solutions that allow users to better manage their privacy on wearable technologies.

“My field of research utilizes a combination of computer science, design and psychology to evaluate the cooperative relationship between humans and computational technologies — not just how people use computational technologies, but how these technologies affect the society as a whole,” he said. “The research I do affords me the opportunity to drive positive social change and improve the interaction between humans and technology. This is why I chose this discipline.”

A native of Monroe, Louisiana, Lowens received his bachelor’s degree from Southern University and his master’s degree from Virginia State University.

The Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation
The Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation (HLFF) annually organizes the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF), which is a networking event for mathematicians and computer scientists from all over the world. The sixth Heidelberg Laureate Forum takes place from Sept. 23 to 28. The HLFF was established and is funded by the German foundation Klaus Tschira Stiftung, which promotes natural sciences, mathematics and computer science. The scientific partners of the HLFF are the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies and Heidelberg University. The HLF is strongly supported by the award-granting institutions, the Association for Computing Machinery, the International Mathematical Union and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.