By Hannah Stewart (Comm’19)
CMCI is excited to congratulate Jessie Smith and Janghee Cho, two PhD students in the Department of Information Science, on their acceptance into top-tier technology fellowships.
Last year, both students applied for the competitive fellowship positions, going up against students across the globe. Starting this fall, Smith, a third-year candidate, will join the Google PhD Fellowship for Recommender Systems, and Cho, a fifth-year candidate, will begin the Meta Research PhD Fellowship for AR/VR Future Technologies.
For the next two to three years, Smith and Cho will have support from Google and Meta to conduct research in their respective fields. Smith studies recommender systems, which filter and suggest information based on user preferences—like Netflix’s movie recommendations—and how to improve the systems to be more equitable. Cho investigates how people currently integrate technology into daily life and how that may evolve in the future.
Google and Meta celebrated their first classes of fellows in 2009 and 2012, respectively. Since then, each company has developed its program to cater to a wide array of students with different areas of focus. Students participating in these fellowships aren’t necessarily doing work for the companies. Instead, they are given resources, namely financial support and the opportunity to meet with company researchers, in order to conduct their own research.
Both CMCI students said they were grateful for the opportunity to participate in these fellowships. Cho added that he wants to support any CU Boulder students who are going through the application process, and he has paid opportunities for students to help with his research.
“[Technology companies] want to know what academia is doing,” Cho said. “This is part of my dissertation. This project is specifically focusing on understanding remote workers working from home and trying to envision what kind of future technology we need to support [them].”
Smith sees this fellowship as a great opportunity, since Google has been “kind of infamous” for their history regarding AI ethics research. She sees this award as recognition from big tech that AI and machine learning ethics research is important.
“My research is on understanding how [recommender systems] might harm people, and how we can design these systems to measure and mitigate that harm,” Smith said. “The more I learn about algorithms and computer science, the more I learn about what it means to be human.”