Research Statement

Broadly, I’m interested in computer science education and, secondarily, the impact of programming languages to this end. My favorite kinds of projects are those that seek to diversify the ranks of “computer scientists” (emphasis to highlight both those in the stereotypical, formal software engineering roles and those who use programming as a tool of utility for projects in other fields, such as digital humanities). More generally, I fundamentally believe that in order to be an enfranchised citizen in our society today, it’s crucial to have exposure to computing and be able to reason about the workings of socio-technical systems, and I seek to address our existing digital divide (or technical gap) in two specific ways:

  • Integrating computer science into traditional k-12 educational settings, in the way we teach subjects like Mathematics, Biology, and English. The goal here is to have every student see programming as a career they can choose if they are so inclined and to see themselves as a computer scientist, rather than singularly viewing the programmers or “tech bros” in Silicon Valley as such. Further, another dimension of this kind of project is helping teachers who don’t have formal, or meaningful experience with computer science to build the skillset to teach these courses.
  • Helping older adults reason about socio-technical systems. It’s no secret that algorithms have a great impact on the lives of pretty much everyone in the 21st century (Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction has so many poignant examples that I won’t even attempt to paraphrase), however many adults haven’t had a chance to take a computer science class or otherwise be exposed to computing. I’m curious about how we can we can help these individuals build a skillset to reason about such algorithms, particularly in non-traditional educational settings.

The programming languages dimension of my research interest is also two-fold. First, I’m interested in evaluating PLs as educational tools, rather than for programmer productivity. Second, I’m curious about the effects of primarily teaching programming using PLs derived almost exclusively from English. Moreover, I’d like to do work on understanding whether or not a programming course can be more accessible and/or effective if the PL syntax is derived from a language that might be more comfortable or familiar to a given individual than English.

Experience

My research experiences span a few fields – information science, human-computer interaction, and privacy & security. I’ve found that the common methods of each field inform each other in a meaningful and insightful way, even if they sound potentially disparate. I probably use the word interdisciplinary too much, but working at the intersection of several different subfields has been really fun, to say the least.

I currently work with Prof. Eni Mustafaraj of Wellesley in the Cred Lab, where we study minsinformation on the web. One of our projects was recently covered by Wellesley College’s Daily Shot.

I’ve also worked with Prof. Yanni Loukisass of Georgia Tech on the Atlanta Map Room, where we sought to make data about gentrification more tangible and empower Atlantans to add missing context to presented data. GaTech wrote up a nice article about the Civic Data REU here.

In Summer 2019, I worked in the HCI lab of Prof. Dr. Susanne Boll of the University of Oldenburg, as part of the IRES Ubicomp program co-directed by Dr. Andrew Kun of UNH and Dr. Orit Shaer of Wellesley. I was supervised by Dr. Torben Wallbaum and built FeelsLike to help long distance partners share significant emotional moments.

I am currently working on an honors thesis (bachelorarbeit) with Prof. Ada Lerner of Wellesley. The working title of my thesis is “Helping Users Understand and Prevent Data Exfiltration by Ads in Android Apps”.

Papers

  • A. Rothschild*, E.Lurie*, E.Mustafaraj, How the Interplay of Google and Wikipedia Affects Perceptions of Online News Sources, Computation + Journalism Symposium, Miami, FL, Feb. 1-2, 2019. Link. A review of this work was published in The Signpost, the online newspaper of the English-language Wikipedia.

Talks

  • Presented How the Interplay of Google and Wikipedia Affects Perceptions of Online News Sources at C+J 2019
  • Intern Mentorship Panel (panelist), Wellesley College Computer Science Club, April 2019
  • The Atlanta Map Room, Wellesley College Tanner Conference, October 2018
  • The Atlanta Map Room: Documenting the Connections and Disjunctions between Civic Data and Lived Experiences in the City, Atlanta Studies Fall Meetup, August 2018
  • First-Year Internships in Tech, Wellesley College Tanner Conference, October 2017

Technical Reports