ACSU Computer Science Research Night
Cornell ACSU successfully hosted the Computer Science department’s first live and online Research Night—an event aimed at encouraging undergraduate students to participate in CS research and also learn about graduate studies in the field.
A panel of current Cornell CS graduate students fielded questions from remote participants—nearly fifty in all—who wrote in with questions. CS Assistant Professor Adrian Sampson offered some opening and then ongoing remarks from his perspective as a faculty member, with several other CS faculty tuning in for the event. CS Professor and Chair, Kavita Bala, started things off with a warm welcome in the midst of tumultuous times.
Judy Huang, Rishi Bomassani, and Rolph Recto (all three ACSU volunteers) set the stage for questions, and were joined by Horace He, Priya Srikumar, and Katie van Koevering.
The first panel was organized around the question “How and Why to do CS Research?” Several graduate students spoke of the deep intellectual satisfaction of doing research. Rishi noted that research is also "a way to build deep and meaningful relationships with faculty.” Horace added that “research is one of the special things that college provides.”
The next panel explored the debate “Go to Graduate School or Enter Industry?” Replies were nuanced, including Professor Sampson’s, who spoke of his own experience working in both a doctoral research environment and also in industry. In an academic environment, he described how one is free to choose one’s own projects whereas in industry research one is often necessarily in the service of management and other external factors. Horace added that sometimes one’s CS subfield can benefit from “access to specific resources” that only industry may be in a position to provide; his subfield is ML, so data is an important resource.
In reply to a participant question about “learning transferable skills,” Priya spoke of “unlearning helplessness.” That is, learning how to be tenacious—“how to tackle a problem head on.” Rishi spoke of learning “how to identify open and important problems—and how to approach them.” Katie, a second-year doctoral candidate, offered a candid and knowing assessment of graduate studies—and what one learns in that process: “How to choose your topic: this is what a Ph.D. is about. If you don’t want to read a paper about something, you probably don’t want to write about it either.”
After the panel, the virtual group dispersed to discuss pre-recorded video posters. Eight CS graduate students supplied short videos about their research (all available below): Josh Acay, Shiang-Wan Chin, Jason Gaitonde, Dietrich Geisler, Katie Van Koevering, Rachit Nigam, Oliver Richardson, and Ana Smith. Moreover, all of these graduate students made themselves available via Zoom for students to “drop in” to talk about the posters.
Thank you to all who made the new virtual format—including this innovative video poster session—a great success.
Here's the recording of the research night panel discussion:
Watch the graduate student video posters, part of Cornell's first virtual CS Research Night:
Josh Acay, "Viaduct: A General Framework for Compiling to Efficient Cryptography"
Shiang-Wan Chin, "Smart Farms"
Jason Gaitonde, "Cost Sharing"
Dietrich Geisler, "Geometry Types for Graphics Programming"
Katie Van Koevering, "Binomials"
Rachit Nigam, "Dahlia: Predictable Accelerator Design for High-Level Synthesis"
Oliver Richardson, "Probabilistic Dependency Graphs"
Ana Smith, "Understanding Words in Action"