Accessibility Tools (CTRL+U)
Hide the tools

After hiding the tool, if you would like to re-enable it, just press CTRL+U to open this window. Or, move your cursor near the tool to display it.

Currently Reading:

Renzhi Cao innovates in the classroom

Renzhi Cao innovates in the classroom

Posted by:
June 5, 2022
By Lisa Patterson ’98
ResoLute Contributor

If you search for the CV of Assistant Professor of Computer Science Renzhi Cao, Ph.D., you’ll find a list of published research papers longer than Foss Field. He says it’s a great feeling when a new piece of research is published. But what he finds most rewarding is bringing his students alongside and sharing with them the value of hard work, hands-on learning and timely scholarship.

“One of my goals at PLU is to promote early engagement of undergraduate students – especially for women and underrepresented students – in machine learning, bioinformatics, and the data science field,” he says. “I want to inspire students to pursue advanced STEM education and research careers.” 

Cao explains: “Not only is research interesting for the students, I think it’s truly an important part of their education in computer science. I liken it to the Chinese proverb, from Confucius’ disciple Xunzi, that says ‘I hear, and I forget; I see, and I remember; I do, and I understand.’”

Cao says learning is a two-way street. He gains knowledge from his students as well.

“It is also important for me to work with students from different backgrounds, as I am always surprised by students’ new ideas on the research problem, and I can always learn something new from them,” he says. He quotes another favorite saying: “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Doing research is kind of like “playing a treasure hunting game,” he says. “Everyone knows that it is more fun with more eyes and minds working together.”  

Right now, he’s particularly jazzed about a research project on protein structure prediction using electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) data with a group of PLU undergrads, two master’s students from China, two high school students from Seattle, and two collaborators from the University of Washington Bothell and Saint Louis University.

Cover of the "innovation" issue of ResoLute magazine. Cover image is an artistic rendering a music professor playing piano.

This article is one of a four-part series on faculty innovators in the latest issue of ResoLute Magazine. Read about faculty innovators Tamara Williams, Cameron Bennett and Karen McConnell.