Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Area: Machine Learning and Mental Health
Advisor: Henry Kautz
Why did you pick UR for your graduate work?
When I was visiting grad school I wanted to be in a community that is small and has top level research opportunities. UR has both. This matters most to me because I did my undergrad from Bard College, a small liberal arts school where the student-professor ratio is low and everyone gets to work together on everything. Being away from home (home is Bangladesh), I value the sense of community a lot.
Before starting my graduate studies, I worked at places such as KAYAK, Ebay, a few startups, and research lab at Harvard University. I have always appreciated the importance of individual student-professor interactions. URCS has some of the best researchers in the field yet the department is small. For a graduate student, this is a unique opportunity to spend more quality time getting to know each other, evaluating and critiquing works with advisors and have more opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration.
How did you choose your research area? Did you already have an idea when you came about what you wanted to do, and did that change after you started your studies here?
I had a couple of professors in mind when I visited UR. As classes started, I started joining research group meetings of both the groups and finally settled for one. My specific research direction was set based on conversation with my advisor regarding in what he was interested and how that aligned with my personal preference. We basically came to a common ground.
My research interest is in the intersection of Machine Learning and Mental Health. In this digital era, much of our lives are now lived online. Our online behavior leaves a digital footprint that can be analyzed to reveal our cognitive and emotional state through time. What we write on various digital platforms can provide important cues to understand our internet browsing behaviors. Can we have a system, non-intrusive, that can periodically monitor anxiety, stress and other mental health conditions and provide actionable feedback for myself and for my care providers? Such a system can help friends, family, and care-providers to recognize important life events and provide necessary support, encouragement, and appropriate interventions. My collaborators are from Psychology and the Psychiatry department at the Medical Center at the University of Rochester.
What have you enjoyed the most about your time at UR?
The people. Faculty and staff at CS department are the best and will help grad students in every way they can so that we, the grad students, worry less and have a good time.
What do your future plans include? Will you go to academia or industry?
I am not sure. I enjoy application-based work, so maybe a research-based position in the industry. But again, academia sounds great in the long run!