This Q&A highlight features Ellie Mamantov, recipient of an Honorable Mention in the 2021 CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researchers award program. Ellie graduated from Carleton College in June 2021 with a double major in computer science and psychology. She is now a computer science PhD student at Yale University. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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About Nicole Beck
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Entries by Nicole Beck
Curious about summer opportunities in computer science, Courtney Miller learned about Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) in her first year at the New College of Florida. Having assisted in clinical trials in high school, she was eager to give research in computer science a try. “I really enjoyed that experience, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try out academic research.”
When Sara Boyd transferred to Southwestern University (SU) as a sophomore, research was not on her radar. That quickly changed when she attended the symposium for Southwestern’s SCOPE program, a university-wide summer research opportunity for undergraduates from any major. “I was fascinated by projects that used AI to generate art, music and competitive Pacman playing agents,” Sara recalls. “SU prides itself on its interdisciplinary opportunities, and here I was able to see it first-hand.” Sara left the symposium thinking research might be worth trying someday.
Esteban Safranchik hopes to harness the potential of weakly supervised machine learning to impact fields beyond computer science. Now a PhD student at the University of Washington, Esteban got his start in research as an undergraduate at Brown University. His work was published at the 2020 Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Conference and is also used by economists and data scientists.
Janaan Lake is living proof that it’s never too late to pursue a career in computing. After working 17 years as a Certified Public Accountant, she decided the time was right to pursue a computer science degree and enrolled at the University of Utah. “Although changing careers in midlife has been more challenging than I anticipated, it has also been more rewarding.”
Joseph Briones wants to help robots work together more effectively. While double majoring in Computer Science and Math at Arizona State University (ASU), Joseph has worked towards extending the theory of programmable matter for applications in swarm robotics and multi-agent robot systems. His undergraduate research revolved around the 3D Amoebot model for self-organizing particle systems, a 3D programmable matter simulator. His work also resulted in two publications to the 2018 and 2019 International Symposium on Self-Stabilizing Systems. Currently, he is a computer science PhD student at his alma mater, furthering the research he started as an undergraduate.
Aleesha Chavez, a senior Computer Science major at Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) in Idaho, embodies her school’s motto of “Here for Good” as she brings her passion for helping others and her love of CS to research, teaching, and service.
After graduating from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Spring 2020, Jonathan Chan continues to pursue his research interests in programming languages (PL) as a master’s student at UBC. His work has resulted in a proof of concept for more robust termination checking in Coq, an interactive proof assistant.
Christian “Chris” Hill wants to transform the way we sense the world around us. His interest in human augmentation and sensory extension research began early in his college experience. During his second semester at the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU Boulder), Chris took a new course on children’s education, human augmentation, and transhumanism taught by Mike Eisenberg, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Institute of Cognitive Science.