After graduating from GVSU with her BS in Computer Science and minors in Mathematics and Spanish in 2015, Michelle Dowling decided she wanted to go on to graduate school. Michelle is now a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech where she is working as a graduate assistant for Dr. Chris North. Michelle’s research is in Human-Computer-Interaction. She is part of Virginia Tech’s InfoVis Lab and the Bayesian Visual Analytics research group. With her colleagues, Michelle focuses on how human-in-the-loop methods can be applied to data analytics tasks in a visual analytics tool for high-dimensional data.
Recently, Michelle co-authored a paper accepted by a peer-review journal, as well as a poster that she hopes to present next month at a prestigious international conference on visualization for cyber security. Her doctoral studies are progressing well and she is currently finalizing her dissertation plans in preparation for her preliminary defense. She has also completed two summer internships in recent years, one at the Department of Defense and a second at the Pacific Northwest National Labs.
Michelle indicated that the broad exposure to many topics in computer science (data structures, algorithm analysis, git, many programming languages, etc.) she received as an undergraduate at GVSU taught her are to rapidly assimilate new technologies and concepts as she encounters them. The faculty were helpful not only in answering questions and assisting with class material, but also helped her understand and form career goals, such as pursuing graduate studies in computer science.
Michelle advises students to integrate their personal interests into their studies. “If you like something, find a way to integrate it into your studies– or even pursue it anyways! For example, I was interested in psychology and, later, front-end design, but I didn’t know that I could combine these passions with my studies in computer science to pursue a particularly interesting and challenging niche (HCI or human factors in my case).”