I won a research award!

Around two decades of quarantine-time ago, back in April, I blogged about my very first research ‘presentation’ taking place at a digital symposium. In the month after that symposium, I released the visualization of my project (to surprising public acclaim), finished my finals, and graduated. Then, a few days after the date of my ‘graduation,’ I received an email telling me I had won Outstanding in the Science & Mathematics Poster session – essentially top prize in my category of 400-or-so poster presentations! (link to the award winners)

I think this is where I’m supposed to say that I’m ‘shocked,’ or that I ‘can’t believe I won,’ or something else suitably humble. I am definitely thrilled and a little surprised that I received an award for my first-ever presentation of research. But I cannot entirely say that I didn’t present without an eye towards the awards. I am a rather results-driven person, and the result of a possible award is what drove me to spend ~30 hours drafting, recording, and editing a video; and a fair amount of additional time responding to judge comments and convincing my friends colleagues they should also be checking out and commenting on my research. Luckily, doing all of that was very fun for me.

This might be slightly old news, (it happened in May and I’m writing about it in July) but it’s good news, and I think we all need a little bit of good news to put out into the world. Here’s hoping I can bring this award-winning-research energy into my first semester of grad school!

Hello Again!

Hi, I’m Tamara.

A long time ago, in 2014, I had a book blog under the name ‘Tamaraniac.’ I wrote book reviews, and created recommendation lists of young adult novels, and took a lot of book pictures in my then twinkle-lighted bedroom. I worked for two independent bookstores (the lovely Red Balloon Bookshop and Subtext Books) writing shelf reviews, helping with order lists, working special events, and getting to meet many great authors.

Then, I went off to college at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. I decided to study Computer Science. I still read as much as I could during breaks, and I still took pictures of those books for my instagram, but I essentially stopped writing book reviews. I took down my blog and replaced it with a professional site. I spent less time on social media, and I lost touch with the book world.

Next fall, I’ll be beginning my PhD in Computer Science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I’ll be doing research in computing education: a field that seeks to understand topics such as how people learn computing, why they learn computing, and how we can help them learn and understand computing better.

In short: my interests have changed and broadened. While I still love reading, (I’ll soon be living a 5-minute walk from Ann Arbor’s independent bookstore!) I also want to talk about what is happening in my field and research, about the art projects I’ve picked up during the pandemic, and probably about plenty of other things in the future. On this (new) blog, I plan to chronicle my life as a graduate student, my research, and my thoughts about what is going on in the world of Computer Science; as well as write about the books I’m reading and things I’m creating.