[h2-top]Ph.D. Software Engineering[/h2-top]
Why did you choose UC Irvine for your Ph.D. studies?
I chose UC Irvine because the university is passionate about interdisciplinary projects with real-world impact.
Which faculty member(s) do you work with and on what projects?
I work with professor Cristina Lopes on virtual worlds research. I am interested in developing robust real-time systems that can support many simultaneous users.
What is the most enjoyable part of doing research?
My favorite part about research is exploration. Since arriving at UCI, I have discovered a number of research areas I find very exciting, including multi-agent systems and virtual reality. I enjoy having the flexibility to dive into a new topic and figure out how it fits into my research, or how I can contribute to that field. This usually involves a lot of reading, as well as some tinkering with systems other researchers have developed.
Have you done an internship? If so, where and in what role?
I have done three internships. I spent two summers (2012, 2013) as a research intern at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in Livermore, Calif. I worked on large-scale data processing for the Earth System Grid Federation, an open-source distribution system for very large climate data. I have worked with large data computation systems (Hadoop, Spark, OpenMPI) and developed an autonomous agent system in Clojure.
I am currently a software engineering intern at Rackspace in San Francisco. I am on the cloud monitoring team, where I am currently working on back-end tools for the monitoring system and internal Rackspace APIs. Later in the summer, I am planning to work with our monitoring agent framework!
What are you most proud of so far?
I recently earned my first publication, “Impact of Event Filtering on OpenSimulator Performance.” This work involved a systematic study of optimizations in OpenSimulator, a 3D virtual-world server. In July, I presented my work at the Summer Computer Simulation Conference in Monterey, Calif.
What has been the best part of your experience so far?
The best part of my experience has been getting to know my labmates in the Mondego Lab. Our lab represents many continents, backgrounds and academic interests. I have learned a lot from our day-to-day conversations and debates — about both technical and non-technical topics. It is fun to be able to hop over to the room next door and hash out a bug or debate programming strategies. We are quite passionate about many technical topics!
What has been the most unexpected part of your experience?
Switching into the software engineering program! I was not familiar with software engineering research when I arrived at UCI. I knew that the discipline existed, but was not familiar with the work or with the contributions of researchers here. I took the graduate introductory class in software engineering, and realized that I was really, really excited to do this kind of research.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I plan to pursue a career as a research scientist. I’d like to stay in a technical career path where I can both develop very large-scale systems with practical applications, as well as contribute new research to the software engineering field.
What would be your advice to incoming Ph.D. students in your program?
My two biggest pieces of advice are, 1) build a support network early, and 2) try out classes and research projects that challenge you. Building a support network early helped me survive setbacks in my Ph.D. You may face challenges — both personal and academic — and people here really want to support you. Getting to know my cohort — and students in other stages of the program — was really important to me. It also helped me to get to know faculty, and to reach out when I had questions. I also think it can be helpful to have a mentor entirely outside of UCI, someone who and can help offer another perspective on your career choices.
There are a lot of really cool classes and exciting research happening here! If you have the opportunity, try out a class you never would have taken in undergrad, or look into research collaborations outside of your comfort zone. A lot of research questions don’t have answers yet.[/two_third][one_fourth_last]