Spotlight

Prof. Walt Scacchi and Kendra M.L. Cooper have co-edited the book Computer Games and Software Engineering which was released in May. 

Congratulations to Prof. Debra J. Richardson as she retires from UCI!  Richardson has led a distinguished career at UC Irvine with numerous accomplishments along the way.  During her 28 years at UCI, she served as the Founding Dean of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, and prior to that, as Chair of the independent Department of Information and Computer Science.  Richardson has graduated fifteen Ph.D. students and seven Masters degree students, who have gone on to successful careers as well.  She has authored over 140 refereed book chapters, journal articles, and conference papers.

ISR made a great showing at iConference 2015, held March 24-27 in Newport Beach, CA. iConference is an international gathering of scholars and researchers concerned with critical information issues in contemporary society. It is presented by the iSchools organization, a collection of Information Schools. The UCI Donald Bren School of ICS is a member of the iSchools, and hosted the 2015 conference. Informatics Dept. Prof. Gary Olson led the way as conference General Chair. With over 530 attendees, 2015 was a great success! 

Building on the success of last year’s conference, the 2nd OpenSimulator Community Conference took place on November 8-9. OSCC is an entirely virtual conference focusing on online virtual reality, and is hosted on an OpenSimulator virtual environment running on a server at UC Irvine.  Attendance this year climbed to nearly 450 participants from multiple global timezones on Earth.

At ISR, we regularly engage graduate students, postdoctoral students, and sometimes undergraduate students to work as research assistants directed by ISR faculty.  We have not previously worked with or mentored high school students in ISR research projects, so this is something new – in this case, taken on by Prof. Walt Scacchi.  In Spring 2014, Scacchi was approached independently by two students from Northwood High School in Irvine who were seeking a summer research project to work on while being mentored.

Professor Debra Richardson is passionate about students’ access to computer science education, which is not just about access to computers, but about innovation of computing technology.  According to Richardson, “Computer science education builds students’ computational and critical thinking skills enabling them to create—not simply use—the next generation of computationally-oriented devices, tools, and games.”  This fundamental knowledge is needed to prepare students for the 21st Century, regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation, giving them the tools they need to make further contributions to technology as well as its application in society.

Thomas LaToza, a postdoctoral research associate, and André van der Hoek, an ISR Professor, have been awarded $1.4M by the National Science Foundation to investigate “Crowd Programming,” applying ideas from microtask crowdsourcing to software development.

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ISR held its eleventh Research Forum on May 16th. The goal of the event is to foster interaction between industry and ISR researchers, and encourage research collaborations amongst all. ISR’s banner event, the 2014 Forum attracted over a hundred attendees from sixteen companies, two law firms, and nine universities.

The Department of Informatics hosted a workshop for the participants in the NSF “SCALE” grant. ISR Prof. André van der Hoek and ISR Prof. David Redmiles are co-PIs for the University of California, Irvine portion of the grant which involves three universities in total: UC Irvine, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (ISR faculty associate and alumna Prof. Anita Sarma, PI), and Carnegie Mellon University (Profs. James Herbsleb, Laura Dabbish, & Linda Argote, PIs/co-PIs). The workshop brought together about 20 faculty, graduate students, post docs, and visiting researchers working together on themes of the grant. The acronym SCALE stands for “Social Coordination Across Large Environments.” This title seeks to capture a set of research themes around software tool support for distributed work environments.

Crowdsourcing systems have demonstrated great success in enabling challenging tasks to be performed rapidly by massive crowds of casual workers.  In 2011, players of the game Foldit were able to produce an accurate 3D model of an enzyme in just 10 days, a problem that had stumped researchers for 15 years.  Over 10 million people use Duolingo to learn a language by translating small snippets of text.  By aggregating these translations, Duolingo is able to rapidly produce translations of websites and other documents.

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