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Elizabeth Sowers, InfoSci MPS Student

Why did you choose Cornell?
I chose Cornell because of the great experience I had as an undergraduate. I graduated from the Department of Communication in May of 2014 with a minor in Information Science.
I came here as an undergraduate because Cornell excels across all fields. While I knew that the Communication Department was definitely where I wanted to be for my undergraduate career, Cornell’s overall excellence assured me that I would be learning from world-class professors all the time. Moreover, I also found the opportunities to contribute to research to be stellar. Even as the leading experts in their field, professors are always encouraging to undergraduate and graduate students to join them as researchers – a priceless and truly gratifying opportunity.
By and large, Cornell is a beautiful place with friendly and intelligent people – from my roommates to my professors, I know I am surrounded by some of the best people in the world. I learn more every day and am truly grateful that I’ve been able to spend the last three years here.

Why are you doing (or why did you do) an MPS and why InfoSci?
Information Science was a field I found late into my undergraduate studies, and one I always wished I took more classes in. When the idea of applying for an MPS in InfoSci came up, I realized that it was the perfect opportunity to continue my studies and further my knowledge. Cornell’s Information Science department offers such great faculty, flexibility, and expertise that I had to do it. Where and what did you do for your Undergrad? I was an undergrad at Cornell University in the Department of Communication, graduating in May 2014. I focused my Communication studies on Information Technologies and minored in Information Science. Outside of my academics, I also served as an undergraduate research assistant in the Cornell Social Media Lab for two years (which I continue to work in now). If you've selected a research project to work on, can you describe your experience so far? What faculty supervisor/s or outside companies are you working with on the project? I am working on a project with Professor Natalie Bazarova and Ph.D. candidate Pamara Chang in the Social Media Lab. We’re working together with Weill Medical and the Interaction Design Lab led by Dr. Geri Gay on a project that is hoping to utilize technology to help chronic pain in elderly patients. The process thus far has been really exciting, especially as we just received funding from the National Institute of Health. We’ve constructed our pilot study proposal and finalized our codebook. We’re currently at the beginning of our next stage, where we will be working with some Cornellians at NYC Tech to put together a mobile application for data collection.

What class have you taken or are you taking that you are excited about and why?
I’m currently taking my first four courses for my MPS, since this is my first semester in the program.
I’m taking HADM 4890: The Law of the Internet and E-Commerce, and there we’re currently discussing copyright and fair use. The cases involving Napster and Grockster are the focus this week. I really enjoy this class because it shows how our technology effects our society – what choices we make, what we do, and what consequences it can have. Having this knowledge is definitely necessary for anyone who aspires to create any techonology of their own.
I’m also taking INFO 6310: Health and Computation, where by the end of the semester, we’ll have created a piece of technology designed to improve the health of the user. My group is looking into improving the moods and mental health of Cornellians on campus. This class really outlines the great things we can do and how we can really help others with our technical expertise.
INFO 4550: Deception in the Networked Age is taught by Professor Jeff Hancock, a leading expert in the field of deception, and how technology affects the way we lie. This class is a small seminar, which I like because it allows us to discuss and debate topics in the field. It’s also a very intriguing topic, as lying always is. Between Professor Hancock and my classmates, it’s very hard to ever be bored in class.
My last class is INFO 6230: Games, Economic Behavior, and the Internet. This is another great class because it again shows how the impacts that technology has on society – it’s fun to see real-life implication of technical design decisions, like what kind of auction eBay is and why that works online. We’re currently getting deeper into auctions and Game Theory, and I really enjoy seeing how it all fits together.

What do you like about living in Ithaca?
It’s the quirkiness. From the excitement of the winter Chili Cook-Off to the charm of the Commons, Ithaca is the perfect place to study. Every person you ask will tell you how much they love all Ithaca has to offer. I love going to the Farmers’ Market on the weekends to eat some delicious Cambodian food and stock up on my favorite bread and cider. I’m a die-hard AppleFest fan and will spend multiple hours there taking it all in. Our mayor has turned his parking spot into a park, our professors invite us over for dinners in the barns, and you’ll never know when you’ll find a deer standing next to you. Plus, it’s all “gorges.” Walking over waterfalls every day never gets old.

What are your plans after graduation?
I want to be able to use both my degrees from Cornell in my post-graduate career, so I’m aiming for a career in the human-centered side of the technology industry. I want to work in Communications or Public Relations at a technology company, helping bridge the gap between engineers and their consumers. What do you think incoming MPS students should know before they come? Incoming MPS students should know that Cornell is a place for a wide-lens kind of learning. They don’t have to be confined to Gates Hall when they’re here. They can expand their degree to include classes in the Johnson business school, in the Communication Department in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, or even in the Architecture school if they want. Cornell is full of possibilities. What would you recommend about this program to potential MPS students? I would definitely recommend its flexibility and its faculty. You can study across all disciplines and still work with world-renown researchers. You can’t go wrong no matter what you choose to supplement your Information Science MPS with.