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National Library of Medicine Awarded Two “Google Summer of Code 2012” Students

Students will Work on NLM's "People LocatorTM" System

Google, Inc. has announced the names of 1,212 students accepted for the upcoming "Google Summer of Code 2012 TM (GSoC 2012)," among them two students who will work with mentors at the Lister Hill Center, an R&D division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) on improving software to help with family reunification after a disaster. NLM is the world's largest biomedical library and part of the National Institutes of Health.

Begun in 2005, the GSoC program pays stipends to students to work during the summer on specific tasks for organizations involved with open source software development.

Earlier this year, Google announced its list of 180 organizations that would be eligible for this program, based on their ability to develop and mentor project tasks. Among the eligible organizations was the Sahana Software Foundation (SSF), whose members develop open source software for disaster preparation and response. Each organization then encouraged interested students to formulate project proposals and demonstrate appropriate technical skills.

SSF chose seven students at their universities to work with during the summer. Of these, two will be mentored in extending the People Locator software developed by NLM's Lost Person Finder team (//, or in developing modules that could be used by People Locator in the future. Members of the NLM team, who collaborate with SSF and are prime contributors to the open source software distributed by SSF, will mentor the students. 

People Locator allows the reporting and searching for missing and found people, and may be viewed on the Web site (  The site was initially conceived and tailored to assist with local disaster triage intake and family counseling by nearby hospitals, that joined with NLM in the Bethesda Hospitals' Emergency Preparedness Partnership ( Since the Haiti earthquake, the scope of PL has been enlarged to assist with reunification-outreach in national and international disasters such as the Tohoku, Japan earthquake and Typhoon Sendong, which struck the Philippines.

Here are profiles of NLM's "Google Summer of Code 2012" students:

Ahmad Alinat is a third-year undergraduate in information systems, School of Social Sciences, University of Haifa, Israel. He has extensive experience in PHP, the software language underlying PL, in particular with "WordPress" plug-ins and the "Zend" framework. His GSoC project involves exporting information about people missing and found. He plans to add a rich set of data-export capabilities, both through file-based methods (like generating Excel documents) and data feeds (such as RSS). Some of the methods will focus on geolocated data suitable for portrayal on maps, important for rescue missions and situational awareness in disasters. His primary mentor at NLM will be Dr. Glenn Pearson.

Ramindu Deshapriya assisted LPF during last year's Google Summer of Code and has a follow-on project this year, to build out full capabilities for the expression of the PL/Vesuvius Web site in multiple languages. This involves a hybrid model, to support: 

  • Distributed human translators in a broad array of languages, working through the "Pootle" system;
  • On-the-fly fill-in by machine-translation; and
  • Maximum-quality translation of select Web pages and languages.

Ramindu is a fourth-year undergraduate in Information Technology at the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. His prior experience with PHP includes work with the "Joomla!" project. Greg Miernicki will be his primary mentor at NLM.

Other NLM team members Lan Le and Leif Neve will also assist with mentoring. One of the project leads, Glenn Pearson, who has worked with GSoC students in the past, noted, "Here at NLM, we look forward to these Summer of Code students, and indeed all our summer students and interns. Together they further their education, advance our missions and contribute to a better world."

To learn more:

Google announcement:

Google student list:

Sahana announcement: