September 20, 2023
By Chris Walkowiak
Prospective undergraduate researchers packed the Gates Hall auditorium and atrium for the Association of Computer Science Undergraduates’ Research Night on Monday, September 11.
Each semester, ACSU Research Night showcases research from across the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science and connects undergraduate researchers with new projects. In addition, it provides students the opportunity to ask undergraduate researchers about their experiences. Question topics varied Monday, from approaching professors, to discovering a research interest and beyond.
Kavita Bala, dean of Cornell Bowers CIS, began the event with welcoming remarks in G01, noting how wonderful it was to see a full room.
“Some of you are thinking of going to grad school, or some of you at least are thinking, ‘Is graduate school right for me?’” Bala said. “This is a perfect opportunity for you to get engaged, to try it on for size, and see whether you like doing research.”
At Cornell, students have the opportunity to work with world-class faculty and researchers, Bala said. Compared to classes and assignments, research offers a different type of challenge because it is much less defined and thus more open-ended, and there may not be solutions, she added.
The event began with a student panel in G01, followed by a poster session on the ground and first floors. The panel of researchers – Eric Chen ’24, Ethan Gabizon ’25, and Jason Klein ’26 – brought research experience from fields as varied as computer vision/machine learning, compilers, and graphics, respectively. Justin Hsu, assistant professor of computer science, moderated the session.
Panelists came to research through varied means: Gabizon got started by reaching out to faculty in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Cornell Engineering, while Klein began research in high school. Meanwhile, Chen started with the Bowers Undergraduate Research Experience (BURE), a 10-week summer program hosted by the college.
Panelists also discussed preparation for research, whether they planned on going to graduate school, and participation on project teams.
A poster session followed, including a project from Yuki Wang, a doctoral student in the field of computer science who works with the PoRTaL (People and Robots Teaching and Learning) group, which builds accessible, user-friendly, and practical robots for everyday users.
Along with Kushal Kedia, Wang’s lab partner and fellow doctoral student in the field of computer science, they demonstrated a robot designed to help adults cook.
Monday’s research night was the second for Ronald Jabouin ’26, having attended the spring 2023 session. Speaking of the first session, he appreciated the opportunity to meet researchers and learn about their projects, though he did not ultimately find a researcher to work with. This time, however, he was ready to “expand my horizons” and meet Ph.D. students.
“I’m interested in learning more about research in CS and Cornell and the basic overview of finding a professor and conducting research,” he said, adding that he was hoping to make connections and get involved.
Such small beginnings are important, Bala underscored in her remarks.
“All of us [faculty] got our start this way,” she said. “We sat somewhere in some auditorium and got our foot in the door when we were undergrads and got into research.”
Chris Walkowiak ‘26 is a student writer for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science.