Cornell University
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Mash Rabbi, InfoSci PhD

Affiliation: PhD student, Department of Information Science
Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Why did you choose Cornell?
Definitely Cornell being one of the top schools influenced me to choose Cornell. Also, Cornell is at top position in almost every discipline with a strong interdisciplinary research culture. So, coming to Cornell was the best possible move for the research I was already working on.

Where and what did you do for your Undergrad?
I got my Bachelor degree from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. I graduated with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Computer Engineering.

Why are doing a PhD and why InfoSci?
I am interested in developing smart technologies that help people to make better decisions for themselves. My current research is in mobile health with strong interdisciplinary components ranging from computer science to psychology and medical science. Given the interdisciplinary nature, implication and complexity of my research, I felt an InfoSci PhD is the right way to start.

What research projects are you working on?
I can divide my projects into two distinct threads. In one thread, I am working on building mobile health systems that can monitor different aspects of human behavior which are indicative of well-being. In the second thread, I am building persuasive systems that feed back different well-being states to the user, and try to persuade by means of social influence, reinforcing good behaviors, directed messaging.

How has your advisor influenced your educational experience?

My advisor is Prof. Tanzeem Choudhury. I am enjoying working with her so far. She is very open to exploring and trying out new ideas. Important things that I have learnt from her over the years are to think ahead and to be aggressive in creatively trying out technology in new domains while at the same time focus on works that are important problems in the society.

What other activities are you involved in around campus or around Ithaca?
I try to participate in most of social events in our department and the city, but I was never actively involved in organizing them. Also, I plan to start photography sometime soon. The exquisite natural beauty of Ithaca is something you shouldn't keep your cameras away from!

What do you like about living in Ithaca?
Definitely the natural beauty and gorges you get for free with an awesome university. Also the town isn't very busy, yet there is always touch of life in Collegetown or Downtown area. Taughannock falls or Stewart park are places you won't want to miss when your computers or gadgets become boring.

How do you make it work financially?
As a single student, I can easily manage my daily living and house rents. I can also save some money for a yearly trip back to Bangladesh and sometimes an additional tour to a nearby place of Ithaca.

What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to go into the industry for a while after graduation. Also I have plans to launch a startup after graduation. Once I build a good portfolio of research papers, I might apply for academic positions.

What would you recommend about this program to potential PhD students?

Information is virtually transforming our world from individual life to social and cultural life. To me understanding and theorizing of this information, and responsibly building technology for future can bring proper benefits of wide-spread technology to large population. To me the information science department is very much committed to this ideology, and over the years assembled a body inter-disciplinary faculties and students with expertise in fields including, but not limited to, network analysis, data mining, operations research, economics, computer science, policy, psychology, critical theory, and sustainability. Furthermore, Cornell herself has a very interdsciplinary culture, and has a "no barrier policy" which makes it possible to collaborate with any professor of any discipline if necessary. And given Cornell are at top position at almost every aspect of every discipline, any student interested in doing interdisciplinary research in the field of information technology should strongly consider applying.