The CRA Education (CRA-E) Committee has recently selected two Ph.D. students, Keith Feldman and Max Grossman, to serve as CRA-E Graduate Fellows. The Graduate Fellows Program was established last year to give graduate students the opportunity to contribute to CRA-E projects, engage in advocacy for mentoring undergraduate students, and promote computer science research and undergraduate education at the national level.
At Rice University, Grossman’s research focuses on high performance computing. He works with his adviser Vivek Sarkar in the Habanero Extreme Scale Software Research Group. At the University of Notre Dame, Feldman’s research is focused on applying machine learning and data-mining techniques to the field of health care.
Both fellows worked in industry before starting their Ph.D. programs. For Feldman, it was an interest in developing new tools to advance the evolving field of health-care analytics that prompted his return to research. “I wanted to do something different and be a part of an emerging field. Most of the tools we now use in health-care analytics didn’t exist 5 years ago, and I want to continue developing new ones. Getting a Ph.D. allows me to do that.”
After earning a Master’s degree in computer science, Grossman was a full-time software engineer, but felt he couldn’t break into the topics he was most interested without a Ph.D. “I went back to get a Ph.D. to have more freedom in the problems I worked on and to eventually move into higher level research positions. Being able to use lessons from industry and academia has better prepared me for my future research goals.”
Both fellows have a long history of mentoring undergraduates and advising them on pursuing graduate school and research. At Rice, Grossman mentored a group of 10 undergraduates last summer, and he believes through the CRA-E Graduate Fellows Program, he can help share what he has learned and reach more students. At Notre Dame, Feldman is participating in the Ethical Leaders in STEM program, where he is completing a practicum that investigates ways to improve mentoring and successful research experiences for undergraduates.
During his time as a CRA-E Fellow, Feldman wants to develop best practices for mentoring undergraduates, with the goal of specifically developing material for graduate students, rather than for professors. “There is not as much information targeting this space. Graduate students have a lot of face-to-face time with undergrad students who are just learning how to do research for the first time. These students often look to graduate students for help.”
Grossman is interested in working on the new CRA-E program to develop videos that showcase undergraduate research. “I believe undergraduates have the ability to make a significant impact. Students appreciate being recognized, and being highlighted could be a big motivator for them. I want to figure out how to reach as many students as we can.”
The fellows are just starting their one-year terms. CRA-E is excited to now have a voice from the graduate student community. The fellows will add new resources and perspectives to the Conquer site, so check back often and share the link with your students.
CRA would like to thank the evaluation committee for the CRA-E Graduate Fellows Program: Lori Pollock (chair), Nancy Amato, and Enrico Pontelli.