Once a year, the Computer Science Graduate Student Group comes together to share research and generally get to know each other. In a big, diverse department the CSGSG Research Symposium is an opportunity to network, exchange ideas and deepen the department’s sense of community.
The 2022 symposium, held Oct. 3 in Rice Hall, featured numerous faculty presentations on varying topics and two poster sessions in which graduate students explained their work and took questions from peers and faculty members. Poster slots weren’t just reserved for seasoned researchers honing their speaking skills.
“The goal of this years’ symposium was to be more inclusive of new students, as well as provide all the benefits of a research symposium to more senior students,” said Carl Hildebrandt, a Ph.D. student in Sebastian Elbaum’s lab and part of the LESS Lab, who organized the event.
“We encouraged new students to present posters even on partial ideas, so that they can start collaborating and discussing their ideas with faculty who might be interested in working with them,” Hildebrandt said.
Nearly 30 students took advantage of the opportunity, showcasing research with titles ranging from “An Empirical Study on Readers’ Intuition of the Political Stances in News Headlines” to “Low-power Passive Sensing of On-screen Activities.”
The morning seminars covered topics such as how to be successful as a Ph.D. student from Mary Lou Soffa, the Owen R. Cheatham Professor of Sciences and former chair of the computer science department; consideration of a teaching career presented by teaching faculty; and steps to take now for a great job later, among others.
The afternoon featured talks on research topics representing the department’s core research areas – including computer systems architecture, cyber-physical systems, theory, cyber security, software engineering and artificial intelligence – by faculty who are well-known in their areas of expertise. Across the talks, a theme emerged on the value of seeking collaborations, both within the UVA community and with peers at other institutions.
“You, as grad students, should look to each other for potential collaborations,” said Matthew Dwyer, the Robert Thomson Distinguished Professor and a founder of the LESS Lab – which is short for Leading Engineering for Safe Software Lab and an example of the kind of cross-cutting, collaborative research taking place at UVA Engineering.
The final talk of the program was given by Sandhya Dwarkadas, Walter N. Munster Professor and chair of the department, who provided a snapshot of the state of computer science at UVA today, and a look forward to the direction the department is headed.
Again, interdisciplinarity and collaboration were central themes as Dwarkadas noted faculty involvement in research hubs such as UVA’s Link Lab, a multidisciplinary center for cyber-physical systems research, the national Center for Research in Intelligent Storage and Processing in Memory based at UVA, and the UVA Biocomplexity Institute.
Through cross-appointments with other engineering departments, the School of Data Science and the Biocomplexity Institute, opportunities for faculty and graduate students to work across disciplines to push advances in important research areas abound, Dwarkadas said.
“Go knock on doors, you’ll find colleagues very receptive,” she said.
Looking ahead, Dwarkadas said the department aims to continue growing to strengthen and build bridges across its research priorities, which include theory, software engineering and programming languages, human-computer interaction, cyber-physical systems and the internet of things, computer systems and engineering, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The expansion – including plans to hire seven new tenure-track faculty and one academic general faculty member – will come with strategic rethinking, she said. Among her priorities are ensuring a collegial and inclusive environment and recruiting for a diverse range of talented graduate students.
The program concluded with a presentation of awards for the students’ research. The winners were:
- Best Poster Session 1 – Stephanie Schoch
- Best Poster Session 2 – Josie Lamp
- Best Poster, New Students – Muhammad Shoaib
- Most Promising Research – Trey Woodlief
- Best Poster Presentation – Ingy ElSayed-Aly
Find the complete symposium program here.