Stacey Clifton (left), Michelle Dowling (center), and Moeti Masiane (right)

Three funded UrbComp fellows, Stacey Clifton, Michelle Dowling, and Moeti Masiane, earned the graduate certificate in urban computing this spring. The certificate is offered through the National Science Foundation-sponsored multidisciplinary UrbComp Program administered by the Discovery Analytics Center.

Clifton, advised by James Hawdon and B. Aditya Prakash, graduated with a Ph.D. in sociology and Dowling, advised by Chris North and Mike Horning, with a Ph.D. in computer science.

Masiane, advised by Chris North and Eric Jacques, will complete his Ph.D. in computer science during the summer semester.

Dowling and Masiane were also students at the Discovery Analytics Center.

Clifton was drawn to the program both for its multidisciplinary approach and as a way to advance her quantitative skillset.

“I wanted to challenge myself to do something out of the norm and UrbComp provided me with the quantitative skills to be the first in my department to complete a comprehensive examination in advanced quantitative methods,” she said.

“I was able to further apply this skillset to my dissertation research to add a novel component to the study of policing research,” said Clifton. Her dissertation is titled “Coping isn’t for the Faint of Heart: An Investigation into the Development of Coping Strategies for Incoming Police Recruits.”

Clifton, who is joining Radford University as an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, said she would “100 percent recommend this program as a vital component to graduate studies.”

For Dowling, the program “helped hone the audience for my research to those performing truthfulness determinations based on a given claim,” she said. “This allowed me to focus on how I described my research, making it easier for others to understand its impacts.”

Dowling’s dissertation is titled “Semantic Interaction for Symmetrical Analysis and Automated Foraging of Documents and Terms.”

She said that her first-hand experience of collaborating with others outside her field of study has shown her how beneficial wide collaboration can be.

“I fully intend to continue seeking such collaboration opportunities,” said Dowling, “and I hope to make connections with professors in different departments as I establish myself as an assistant professor at Grand Valley State University.

For Moeti, whose dissertation is on “Insight Driven Sampling for Interactive Data Intensive Computing,” the program expanded his interest in analyzing large data sets and telling stories about such data to include analyzing large data sets related to urban cities.

“UrbComp class projects allowed me to acquire practical experience with data analysis and machine learning and the data modeling skills I have acquired will surely help me in future data analysis work,” said Moeti. “But I think the most important thing I learned in the program was the ethical aspect of data analytics.”

The UrbComp program is open to Virginia Tech master’s and Ph.D. students in any discipline located in Blacksburg or the greater Washington D.C. campus.

For more information contact program coordinator Wanawsha Shalaby.