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GPA Alum Awarded PhD in Computer Science

Academy alumn’s dissertation is integral part of archaeological team’s artificial intelligence system.

Grosse Pointe Academy ‘00 alum, Samuel (Dustin) Stanley was recently awarded his PhD in Computer Science from Wayne State University. His dissertation was an integral part of an artificial intelligence (AI) system built by an interdisciplinary research team made up of members from both Wayne State and the University of Michigan, which helped identify archaeological artifacts on the Alpena-Amberley Land Bridge. 

Stanley told us that the original project was conceived by Dr. John O’Shea, professor of Anthropological-Archaeology at the University of Michigan. “Many thousands of years ago, there was a land bridge that cut what is now Lake Huron in half, stretching from Alpena, Michigan to Amberley in Ontario,” explained Stanley. “Dr. O’Shea speculated that this land bridge would be an ideal route for caribou migration, and thus a part-year settlement by Paleo-Indian hunter-gatherers.”

In 2008, Dr. Shea received a grant to explore the region for remains of Paleo-Indian structures and produced enough evidence to merit more research. Shortly thereafter, the Wayne State Artificial Intelligence lab came on board to create virtual models of the prehistoric land bridge. Stanley joined the project in 2011.

“I developed a methodology for underwater archaeological structure sites for turning a multiobjective optimization engine into a ‘similar results engine,’ much like the AI on online stores that tell you, ‘here are similar products to what you purchased,’” said Stanley. “You feed in previously-found underwater sites, and the system outputs similar sites that have not yet been searched based upon desired criteria, that can then be searched by archaeologists.” 

During that time, Stanley also began to develop his own multiobjective optimization engine known as CAPSO (Cultural Algorithm Particle Swarm Optimizer). He discovered that it “was more flexible than anything else out there,” so he used CAPSO as the engine to “power” the site-prediction methodology. For more information on the project, CLICK HERE. (Photo of 3-D rendering taken from the article.)

Stanley says his love of math and science was nurtured during his middle school years at The Grosse Pointe Academy, and that his sixth grade math and science classes led by Mrs. Karen Ream solidified his career path. “I went from, ‘I probably want to be a scientist’ to ‘I definitely, 100% want to be a scientist,’” he recalls. He also credits his seventh and eighth grade history classes under Mary Jo Johnson for giving him the analytical skills needed for the rest of his education. “She taught real, analytical history that went far beyond memorization of names and dates. I applied the same analytical skills to prehistory when working on my project at Wayne State,” he said.

What’s next for Stanley? His original intent was to continue working on and licensing or selling CAPSO, a process that would require building an employment team and a lot of project management. He decided to abandon that path in favor of something where he can once again be part of the creative process. He’s joining forces with an artist friend of his to build and sell what he calls “cottage-craft” video games, a skill he learned while working on the Alpena-Amberley Land Bridge project.