"I connect deeply with the problem I am working on and I am grateful to have a very supportive supervisor who is very involved with me at every step of the way."

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Student Profile: Rimika Chaudhury

Computing Science PhD student in the Faculty of Applied Science

February 17, 2021
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To someone who is not sure whether they should pursue research in Human-Computer Interaction, I would say, that from my position, I get to contribute to the knowledge on human-factors for designing computing systems. I get to play a part in determining the future of computer interactions. I get to let my imagination run wild, but also use scientific methods to reign them in and turn them into real products that affect humans in the real world. A PhD will also give me the license to pass knowledge forward to future generations of HCI researchers and designers. If these thoughts excite you, you should consider pursuing HCI research.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I was always fascinated by thoughtful design - products that considered human factors during their development, and I consciously tried to blend my high regard for thoughtful design and my skill as a technologist as I progressed through my career. When I decided to pursue Human Factors in Computing Systems (aka human Computer Interaction), Simon Fraser University was one of my top choices, because SFU is well known for its Computing Science department and also actively publishes at Human Computer Interaction conferences. SIAT had initially drawn my attention, before I came across the works of Dr. Parmit Chilana, (who is my Supervisor now) - with whom I discovered a natural alignment in interests. New and exciting research directions were being undertaken at the newly to support help-seeking with complex software and supporting learner needs.

Another important factor that helped me finalize my choice for joining SFU was that the research program was well-funded, and there was also Computing Science Graduate Fund that was being offered at the time. This support meant that I could fully focus on my work without worrying about how to fend for myself as an international student. Finally, I must admit, the location of Simon Fraser University on top of the Burnaby mountain with its serene views, seemed particularly enticing for research related pursuits.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

The larger goal of my research is to help learners make better use of web-resources for learning hard skills. I tackle the problem of directing oneself through the deluge of information online, to step through the learning process purposefully, and consistently make progress.

This entails first understanding how learners currently pursue knowledge, what their strategies and struggles are and how they currently work around bottlenecks using existing technologies and web-based learning resources. Based on the insight about specific areas where technology currently fails learners, my research aims to design and develop software interventions, tools, and techniques to better support the learner in their pursuit of knowledge acquisition.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

There are several things I enjoy about my research at SFU. First of all, I connect deeply with the problem I am working on and I am grateful to have a very supportive supervisor who is very involved with me at every step of the way. Graduate life is known to be tedious and nerve-racking, however my experience so far has been mind-expanding, liberating and rewarding. I enjoy the fact that there is a community at SFU that targets top conferences in my field of research and extend support to each other. I am also happy about getting to connect with exemplary faculty members and researchers from the field on various occasions at the University, and learn the tricks of the trade from some of the best minds in the world. All in all, it is an inspiring experience as a graduate student at SFU.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.

Special Graduate Entrance Scholarship

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROGRAM/POSTDOC POSITION TO SOMEONE STILL SEARCHING FOR A PROGRAM OR POSTDOC POSITION?

To someone who is not sure whether they should pursue research in Human-Computer Interaction, I would say, that from my position, I get to contribute to the knowledge on human-factors for designing computing systems. I get to play a part in determining the future of computer interactions. I get to let my imagination run wild, but also use scientific methods to reign them in and turn them into real products that affect humans in the real world. A PhD will also give me the license to pass knowledge forward to future generations of HCI researchers and designers. If these thoughts excite you, you should consider pursuing HCI research.

Contact Rimika: rimika_chaudhury@sfu.ca

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