Panel 1: Demystifying Grad School

Have you ever wondered what you will actually do in graduate school? You may have heard about seminar classes and thesis defenses or wondered how you figure out what kind of research projects are acceptable. Don't let these questions deter you from considering graduate school. The members of this panel will discuss, from their own experiences, some of the issues that concerned them when considering and entering grad school. They will also answer your questions about the uncertainties you have about graduate studies.

Adrian Flowers, Panelist

Dr. B. Adrian Flowers is a senior research engineer at Aptima, Inc. with a specialization in cognition and perception in virtual, mixed, and augmented reality (XR) environments. He received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Rhode Island in 2018 and has applied this expertise towards the design and development of novel methodologies to mitigate the negative physiological and cognitive effects of XR systems, and the enhancement of human perceptual capabilities.

Samantha Armenti, Panelist

Samantha Armenti is a full-time lecturer in the Computer Science and Statistics Department teaching undergraduate-level computer science courses. She has a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Computer Science. She also supports the K-12 Computer Science team in our department to develop and maintain curriculum for introductory computer science courses incorporating graphic design, web programming, simulation programming, data processing and analysis, and Python programming.

Brittany Lewis, Panelist

Brittany is a second-year Computer Science Ph.D. student at The University of Rhode Island (URI). She works as a research assistant in the ASSET research group ( Her research is focused on improving login systems for people with upper body motor disabilities. She is also currently an executive board member for Graduate Assistants United (, the graduate workers union at URI. Prior to enrolling at URI, she earned a master's degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She also formally worked as a software engineer at Microsoft. More information about Brittany and her research can be found on her website.

Lisa DiPippo, Moderator

Panel 2: Life During Grad School

Learn what grad school is really like from three current grad students. They'll share what a typical day is like, what surprised them most about grad school, and their favorite parts. This will be an open conversation with space for you to get any of your lingering questions answered and be prepared to make an informed decision about grad school or get ready before you start.

Noura Albarakati, Panelist

Noura Albarakati is a fourth-year computer science PhD student at the University of Rhode Island. Her research is mostly in the field of computer science education, and the use of data science in education focusing on the difficulties faced by women and underrepresented minorities in CS and how to help them persist in the field.

Alexander Rodríguez, Panelist

Alexander Rodriguez is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science at Georgia Tech. His research interests include data science and AI, with emphasis on time-series and network problems motivated by disciplines facing pressing social needs, such as computational epidemiology and community resilience. Since early 2020, he has been working on forecasting the progression of the pandemic, and these predictions have been featured on the CDC's website and His work in pandemic forecasting was awarded 1st place in the Facebook/CMU COVID Symptom Challenge and 2nd place in the COVID-19 Grand Challenge. He has interned in Walmart Labs and presented his work in AAAI, KDD, NeurIPS, and BigData.

Jasmine DeHart, Panelist

Jasmine DeHart is a Doctoral Candidate in the School of Computer Science at the University of Oklahoma Gallogly College of Engineering. Ms. DeHart is a member of the OU Data Analytics Lab. She is advised by Dr. Christan Grant. Her research interests can be categorized into three areas: Privacy, Human-Computer Interaction, and Machine Learning.

Sarah Brown, Moderator

Panel 3: Life After Grad School

This panel discusses the transition from graduate school to a professional career in academia or industry. Panelists will comment on their own journeys and provide advice on how to approach the decision of what option to pursue academia/industry/startup, current opportunities for PhDs or Masters in CS, how to stand out in the job market, starting salaries, building a successful career, and others.

Derek Aguiar, Panelist

Derek Aguiar is an assistant professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Connecticut. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island with B.S. degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science and received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Brown University. His research aims to develop probabilistic machine learning models, combinatorial algorithms, and scalable inference methods to better understand high-dimensional data, particularly genomics and genetics data applied to complex diseases.

Jose Baiocchi, Panelist

Software Engineer at Google (2015-present);

Software Engineer at Intel (2010-2015);

Ph.D. in Computer Science, University of Pittsburgh (2011)

Cindy Rubio-Gonzalez, Panelist

Cindy Rubio-Gonzalez is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Davis. Prior to joining UC Davis, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher in the EECS Department at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin--Madison in 2012. Her work spans the areas of Programming Languages and Software Engineering, with a focus on program analysis for automated bug finding and program optimization. She is particularly interested in the reliability and performance of systems software and scientific computing applications. Cindy is a recipient of several awards including the DOE Early Career Award, NSF CAREER Award, DOE Better Scientific Software Fellowship, Facebook Testing, and Verification Research Award, Facebook Probability and Programming Research Award, UC Davis Hellman Fellowship, and UC Davis CAMPOS Faculty Award. She earned her M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee and her B.S. in Computer Engineering from Saltillo Institute of Technology (Mexico). She also holds a B.M. in Piano Performance from the Autonomous University of Coahuila (Mexico).

Trilce Estrada, Panelist

Trilce Estrada is an associate professor in the department of Computer Science at the University of New México and the director of the Data Science Laboratory. Her research interests span the intersection of Machine Learning, High Performance Computing, Big Data, and their applications to interdisciplinary problems in science and medicine. Estrada received an NSF CAREER award for her work on in-situ analysis and distributed machine learning. In 2019 she was named the ACM SIGHPC Emerging Woman Leader in Technical Computing. Currently she is the Big Data aspect lead for the NSF-TCPP national curriculum development initiative and PI faculty advisor of the New México’s Critical Technology Studies Program. Estrada obtained a PhD in computer science from the University of Delaware, a M.S in Computer science from INAOE, Mexico and a B.S in computer systems from The University of Guadalajara, Mexico.

Marco Alvarez, Moderator