After graduating in 2010 from Austin College I was accepted into the Computer Science and Computer Engineering PhD program at the University of North Texas in scenic Denton, Texas. In the Spring of 2011 I was picked up by Dr. Armin Mikler and joined his Computational Epidemiology Research Lab (CERL). By the Fall of 2011 I managed to acquire a research assistantship from the college of Library and Information Sciences at UNT helping with web-development of the iCAMP project. This is a four year project to develop four courses and a graduate academic certificate for digital curation and data management.
Being in the CERL lab has been a wonderful experience. Dr. Mikler oversees a group of ~18 graduate students who work on all kinds of projects from disease modeling, to emergency epidemic response planning, to studying immune reposes and different types of disease intervention strategies. After working on a biocomputing problem which involved using high-performance computing to do clustering of genetic sequences, I have finally found my area of research. I’m currently working on model validation and verification, which combines a majority of my interests and backgrounds including: my philosophy minor, so we can talk about what is truth and if a model is really a true representation of life; my work in LIS, because metadata and data organization is critical; my computer science major, because I have to be able to think abstractly and have knowledge of the what can and cannot be done with computers; and high-performance computing, to be able to crunch very large, complex data sets to more accurately represent real life situation. I’m currently set to graduate in 2015, and can’t wait to get my big poofy hat and be called Dr. Helsing!