Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My First Paper (possible publication)

It's getting to be that time of the year...midterms. Professors are throwing out assignments/projects left and right and preparing to administer midterm exams. What makes it so great for me is that right when my partner and I are working on a paper (and a possible first publication for myself), that is when all of this wants to happen. This is the one part of being a first year RA that I am not lovin too much -- having to balance school work with research. Obviously I need to be concerned about my school work because grades are what's going to keep me at NC State and keep my funding. The problem is, all I really want to do is work on my research. In my graduate orientation class Friday they spoke with us about how important it is to have publications (especially publications that have been accepted to a big conference), so I got excited about the fact that I already started mine...problem is I'm not getting as much done as soon as I wanted because I'm also having to make sure I keep up in school. *For the record, this is not me complaining...just venting :) *

Don't get me wrong, I love learning..it's just the testing part I hate. The only reason I think I don't want to spend the rest of my life in school is because of the tests. I love to learn (which is another reason I suppose research is just for me). Hopefully next semester I will be able to find a way to devote more time to my research while still getting the credits I need to meet my requirements..maybe an independent study or something.

Either way, I hope this week goes smoothly and I get all the stuff done I want to get done (without too many bumps or curves). It feels like the week just started and it's already about to be Wednesday, so hopefully that's a good sign.

Now, I suppose, I must get back to my writing so I can get to a stopping point and get a decent's night sleep. 
Until next time...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's been a while...

Hello all,

Sorry I haven't given many updates lately...things have been pretty hectic (between school and things going on at home) so I haven't really even had time to put much into my research let alone to post on my blog (unfortunately). Besides an HCI assignment that completely snuck up on me, my landlady decided it would be a good idea to have an exterminator come through and handle the 'bug problem' that I, as well as other tenants, have been complaining about for the longest. The best part about this was that we had to pretty much remove everything from our closets and cabinets...just for them to come in a spray the bathrooms and the kitchen. That's it. Makes no sense to me, but what can you do?

On a brighter note, I was able to find my 3rd letter of recommendation (as well as a potential co-advisor/mentor) from Dr. Annie Anton. She's currently my software engineering professor but after meeting with her today--and finding out we have a good bit in common--I'm hoping we will be getting to know each other better. She also agreed to help me with my CV for my application.

As I said before, I haven't had a lot of time to work on my research this week with all the class assignments I've had, but I was able to re-listen to the interviews and try to put together a chart to compare the responses/results from each interview. Our current assignment is to write a conclusions/results paper to go over with Dr. Murphy-Hill and see whether the information we're getting from the interviews are actually useful. I'm hoping that this paper will serve as a draft, especially since I haven't written any potential publications before now. I'm actually really looking forward to his feedback to see what can be done better/different in the future.

Another side note, I've been seriously re-evaluating what I'm doing and what my plans for my future are. I was told (again) today that I would make a great professor. The problem is 1) research is my priority..it's what I want to do, it's what I'm going to do and 2) I've never had any teaching experience so I don't know if it's something I'd want to do. After meeting with Dr. Anton today, however, I'm starting to reconsider the way I am doing things. In order to try and solve the issue of not having enough time to work on my research, she suggested I try to do an independent study with Dr. Murphy-Hill next semester so I can get more time to work on my research while still meeting the university's requirements. As for the issue of teaching, I was under the impression that because I'm doing research, TAing was out the window. Apparently I was wrong. According to Dr. Anton, I can take a semester off from research to TA (and she recommended trying to TA for my research advisor). This is something I'm going to seriously consider and hopefully get to speak with my advisor about it.

Well that's it for now...I've got a lot of work to get done so until next time...

Thursday, September 15, 2011


So for anyone who hasn't heard, Obama came to NC State yesterday to talk about jobs....and I missed it!!! I got stopped at the CookOut up the road from school (I'm assuming because he was on his way in). Wednesdays are my busiest days and of course it had to be the day that the President of the United States was coming as well! The only reason I don't feel as bad is because the professor that taught the first class I had that day was supposed to be sitting right behind Obama during his speech but declined in order to make it to class in time to teach us (although I'm not sure if I would have done the same!).

Anywho, I'm starting to see the biggest difference between undergrad and graduate school...reading. In pretty much every class I'm having to do an extensive amount of reading. For HCI, there's new readings posted for pretty much every class, all of which are fair game on the final. For Software Engineering (as I've said) I'm having to write a research paper, which as most of us know entails A LOT of reading. My networks course doesn't require as much reading (especially since the book is so dense) but I have a feeling it's coming. Then there's the Research Reading Group for our lab, which has us reading at least 1 paper a week. I don't really mind it because it's all interesting/beneficial in some way or another, so I'm not so much complaining as I am pointing out the (probably) obvious. :)

My research advisor told Yoonki and I that our next step was to write a short paper analyzing the results we've gotten so far from our practice interviews. I'm a little worried because I've never written a paper of this nature, nor have I had to write a paper with someone else so this is definitely a new experience for me. I'm good at summarizing things, but I have a feeling what Dr. E is looking for may be a bit different than what I'm thinking so hopefully I'll be able to sit down with Yoonki and pick his brain. If that doesn't work, I'll just have to nag Dr. E some more :)

Things are going pretty smoothly right now...this weekend shouldn't be too busy but it's not the end of the week yet, so we'll see!

Until next time...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ready for another week!

Man time is really flying! I can't believe I'm almost halfway through September already...it seems surreal.

Anywho, I don't have too much as far as updates right now. My partner and I were able to find 2 more people so far to interview (3 really, but we're still waiting to hear from one). The candidates we're getting are coming closer and closer to what we're ultimately looking for (the more experience/understanding the better), so that's good news.

Also, I am in the process of trying to put together the materials for the 2012 Microsoft Research Graduate Women's Scholarship Program . My research advisor (Dr. Emerson Murphy-Hill) nominated me (which is super exciting), so now all I have to do is gather my materials and get them sent off! One of the things I need for the application is a CV (curriculum vitae), which I have never made before, so this will also be a learning experience for me. This scholarship program will give me tuition for next year as well as conference and travel funds (which would come in handy now while I'm trying to buy a plane ticket to Grace Hopper!).

I have a good bit going on right now (particularly with research), but the more I have to do the more productive I am so I can't really complain.

So ready for the week!
Until next time...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Man it's been a while...

Hey everyone!

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted...it was Labor Day weekend (as most everyone knows) and also my boyfriend's birthday so it's been a busy past few days. Now it's back to the daily grind of school and research.

I met with my research advisor today about the interviews and he seemed just as excited as Yoonki and I about the results and progress being made. We are still have a slightly difficult time finding candidates that fit what we're looking for (if anyone out there that uses static analysis tools is reading this please feel free to get in touch with me! :D ), but we have been able to get useful results from the interviews we've had so far, particularly from the participatory design exercise. Our interviewees had some really good suggestions, but instead of having them draw their own sketches (or maybe along with it) we will try to have printouts of the static analysis tool their familiar with (which we will find out about through our pre-interview questionnaire/consent form) and allow them to show us what they find useful and not useful about the interface. We also were not able to try the 'interactive interview' idea with our last two interviewees (they were familiar with the tools, but not avid users; they didn't even have the plugins installed on their computer), but we still feel it's a good idea and a great way of getting detailed results. We just need to be sure to be prepared for those like our two last interviewees who don't avidly use tools/don't have any tools installed on their machine.

Another something that I need to look into is a software called Atlas.ti for qualitative analysis. It may not be worth the effort, but being that I never really heard of it, and neither Yoonki nor I have used it before it's worth at least looking into. We want to make sure we are able to clearly analyze any results we get form our interviews and correctly portray and ratios or numbers we give.

As far as my classes are concerned, they are still proceeding rather slowly, but assignments are starting to roll in so it should get more interesting. My grades are looking good though, so that's a good thing (particularly for my Networking class--although the material isn't too difficult, the professor isn't the easiest to understand). I'm trying to stay ahead on my class assignments so it leaves me more time to focus on my research...so far it's not too difficult but we'll see how things go as the semester progresses.

I wish I could think of something else exciting to share, but I believe that's all I have at the moment.
Until next time...

Friday, September 2, 2011

T.G.I.F. !

As my post title says, Thank God It's Friday....this has by far been the longest feeling week since I've been here. I thought the weekend would never come. Along with the weather being all over the place (which hasn't been very good for my sinuses), school and my research are picking up more and more.

Today, Yoonki and I had two more practice interviews (one with Xi from our lab and Karin from Yoonki's other lab). Although they were not the exact type of candidates we would like to interview (preferably looking for those that are experienced with and use on some sort of basis static analysis tools). Both candidates had used static analysis tools before and were aware (for the most part) of what they did, but their usage was minimal. We did, however, get some useful information from the interviews -- I believe we also decided that we like the idea of making the interview "interactive" with portions that allow the interviewee to show us what they do and how they do it as well as give us suggestions on how to improve static analysis tools. We also found out that Dr. Laurie Williams (another professor/research advisor at NC State) is teaching a course where they discuss static analysis tools in relation to software security. We are hoping that with this new found knowledge we'll be able to get more people to interview that fall more into what we're looking for in an interviewee. But overall I'm excited about the way things are going...can't wait to see what's next! :)

In terms of my research paper that I'm working on, I believe I am going to go with the topic of Model-Driven Software Development. I thought about just using my research topic (static analysis tools) for this paper, but even before I came to grad school, my research interest was pertaining to MDD and executable UML (I love me some diagrams and charts). I'm hoping that if this research paper goes well I will be able to use this topic/paper as a beginning to my own research for my Ph.D. As I get more of my paper done, I will be sure to share the problems I run into, my frustrations, etc. with you all (exciting, right? :D )

Although this is a long/holiday weekend, I have a feeling I won't be enjoying much of it -- but ya gotta do what ya gotta do!
So stay tuned...there's definitely more to come.