“I don’t think I’ve ever had so many opportunities to get involved with outside-the-classroom learning and research opportunities. Before I even started the program, I was invited to participate on a research team. The faculty in the department really care about student success.”
Hometown: Forest Hill, MD
Degree Program: Human-Centered Computing (M.S.)
Faculty Advisor: Stacy Branham
Thesis/research topic: I am planning to do my thesis on the intersection of facial recognition technology developed for people who are blind and gender identity.
May 2016, B.A., Communications (and minor in Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies), Goucher College
Why did you decide to attend UMBC?
I decided to attend UMBC because of the Human-Centered Computing program that they offered. The fields of Human-Computer Interaction and Human-Centered Computing are something I discovered in my final semester of undergrad, thanks to a course I took on online interaction and the history of the Internet. I also had the opportunity to talk to professionals in the user experience field during an internship I had. Almost all of them had attended the UMBC HCC program and had great things to say about it.
What are some of the benefits of being part of the graduate community at UMBC?
I feel like UMBC really supports its graduate students and wants them to succeed. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many opportunities to get involved with outside-the-classroom learning and research opportunities. Before I even started the program, I was invited to participate on a research team. The faculty in the department really care about student success.
Briefly describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications:
I am really just getting started on my graduate research, so I am still exploring the research questions I seek to answer. I know I want to explore how gender identification features of facial/body recognition could potentially impact marginalized communities.
Have you worked on any specific research projects (including any opportunity to publish or present your research) that you would like to highlight?
Since summer 2016, I have been working with a research team exploring the implications of navigation technology for people who are blind. I had the opportunity to complete an independent study with Dr. Branham analyzing written directions that could inform the design of such navigational aids. We recently submitted a paper on this work, and I got to be the first author within my first semester of the program, which is a great feeling. We are planning to launch another study on facial recognition within the next few weeks and submit a paper on those findings, as well. I am also assisting a fellow Ph.D. student in the program as a teaching aid for the 3D Printing and Entrepreneurship class.
What are your plans after you complete your degree at UMBC?
I am still exploring whether I want to enter the industry or get my Ph.D., or both. I know that I would like to continue research and make meaningful contributions in whatever work I wind up doing in the future.
When you are not teaching/researching, what are your hobbies or interests?
I am really into traveling and exploring new places. It is something I hope to do a lot more of in the future. I also love going to new restaurants and cafes and just chatting with friends. I enjoy hiking and being in nature, but also watching Netflix or reading a book for some down-time. My biggest guilty pleasure is anime and I enjoy going to conventions, as well. I have an associate degree in photography, so that is another passion of mine.