More than one-hundred-fifty undergraduates wanting to learn more about research opportunities in computer science at Cornell gathered in Gates Hall on September 5th to listen to CS doctoral candidate, Laure Thompson and fellow graduate students, and get useful advice from CS assistant professors Adrian Sampson and Ross Tate. The attentive audience was treated to frank and informed replies to questions such as “Why Do Research?,” “What is Research Actually Like?,” and “What is Grad School?” Questions from the audience included how one goes about choosing a research topic, how to judge the size of a research agenda, and how to determine if research proposals have, in fact, been addressed by others. 

Photo: CS doctoral candidate Laure Thompson and CS Assistant Professor Adrian Sampson


After the panel session, undergraduate students filed out into the atrium, where they found a bevy of computer science graduate students eagerly waiting to share remarks on their latest research. With posters inside and outside, students sidled up to listen to details and ask questions. Topics included “causality and information flow,” “game theory of information acquisition,” “authorless topic models: biasing models away from known structure,” “scaling blockchain,” “an IoT-friendly blockchain for coordination and accountability,”  “geometry aware types of reference frames,” “solving reentrancy,” “hyacinth compilers and programming languages,” “programming languages for distributed systems,” “foundations of agency,” and “fairness in machine learning.”

Vedant Puri, an M. Eng. student in computer science at Cornell said: “I was at another university before [Cornell] and we didn’t have something like this. This event makes approaching graduate students and potential research labs seem a little easier and it makes me feel really welcome. It’s especially great to talk to the other students and hear about their work.” 

Event co-organizer and current graduate researcher, Rishi Bommasani shared that his “hope for Cornell CS and undergraduate research is to make every CS undergrad seriously consider research for at least one hour in their academic careers and Research Night is an important and major step towards achieving this. I think the event represents the best way for undergraduates to genuinely learn about CS research and also helps to bridge the largely separated communities of undergrads and Ph.D.s that jointly form the CS student body. Overall, I think the event was a tremendous success, so much so that we probably need a bigger venue for next year, and it is wonderful to see so much interest in research at an institution with one of the greatest histories in computer science and some of the most fundamental contributions to computer science research.”

Research Night, like BOOM [Bits on our Minds], SoNIC Summer Research Workshop, Game Design Initiative Showcase, Big Red Hacks (upcoming later this month), and multiple High School Programming contests (for girls and for everyone), continues to expand the CS department’s commitment to a broad initiative to engage and enlist students across age and research area.

A note to undergraduates: if you are looking for a research position, use the Cornell student-developed website— At the site, you will be able to discover new and emerging fields of research; learn how to connect directly with professors and researchers; and apply to positions without any cold emails.

research connect