Frequently Asked Questions and Policies

After a few years, I’ve found myself repeating the same information with new students, colleagues, and peers. This guide is my attempt to identify and address the most important questions that I get asked most frequently. PhD students can refer to our lab Notion page for guidance about paper writing, conducting research, mentorship, lab protocols, IRB, etc.

Advocacy Statement

It is important to me that students and peers are able to learn and work together in a safe and inclusive environment. However; there are a variety of systemic factors that can get in the way. I will do my best to continue to learn about and dismantle oppresive systems in academia and beyond, but often these factors are invisible and victims suffer in silence. If you are experiencing personal difficulties, please feel comfortable to reach out to me in person or by email. All interactions will be kept confidential unless they involve self-harm or the harm of others. It is very possible that I won’t have a solution to the specific problem that you’re experiencing, but I will advocate for you and work with you to find appropriate people, resources, and support.

Here are a few resources:

Any student who has a need for physical access or academic accommodations based on the impact of a disability or medical condition should contact Disability Resources and Services (DRS) in 100 Ritter Annex (; 215-204-1280) to request accommodations and learn more about the resources available to you.

Current Temple University Students

I am very passionate about working with and mentoring students. I do this in two ways, 1) through the classes that I teach and 2) through the research that I supervise.

Letters of Recommendation

Seeing students progress in their careers is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I enjoy writing letters of recommendation because it gives me the opportunity to help you take your next steps.

To request a letter Please send me an email with your name, the destination (scholarship, internship, job, etc), the deadline, and the reason (why you think I would be able to provide a strong letter of recommendation). For students in my classes, please also include the course name and semester. Write "recommendation" somewhere in your email’s subject. Your letter is very important to you and to me, this ensures that I don’t miss any requests.

Letters are confidential To convey that my letters are candid, I will not share my letters with you.

No thank you gifts I adopted this policy from Scott Klemmer. Here is his amazing justification for this policy, “Please, no thank you gifts. It’s very kind, I appreciate the sentiment, and I understand it’s unlikely that chocolate would sway a letter. But to make clear to your letter recipients that my kind words are based on your deeds, no gifts. There is one very important way to thank me: work to be a mind-blowing success wherever you go! That way, the letter I write for the next student will be received enthusiastically.” I couldn’t have said it better :)

Student Research

Research opened many new doors for me that I would not have been aware of otherwise. To quote Michael Bernstein “Coursework teaches you within the boundaries of what we know; research is our chance to push beyond those boundaries.” I am very thankful to my undergraduate research advisor Niklas Elmqvist for giving me the opportunity to do research. With that in mind, I hope to provide this valuable experience for as many students as possible. As much as I would like to, I may not always be able to accomodate everyone. Funding may be available and I try to prioritize funding based on merit and on need.

Apply to work with me Undergraduate students and masters students can apply to work with me using this Google Form. Please do not email me as I get too many requests to track. For freshman students, I may recommend you take a course with me before joining the lab.

Compensation To ensure broader access to my lab, here are some ways to get compensated and work with me when I don’t have funding:

External Students, Faculty, Industry Partners

My research focuses on the nature of collaboration and how communities can work together to solve large complex problems. In that spirit, I am excited to collaborate with other students, faculty, and industry researchers.

Visiting Researchers

If you are a PhD student and want to visit for 3-6 months, I will do everything in power to accomodate you with space in my lab. I gained alot by doing research at the University of Tokyo with Koji Yatani. He opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about research and he provided a warm and welcoming lab for the summer of 2016.

Hiring MS and PhD Students

One opportunity to collaborate with me is to hire a student that I am advising for an internship. I am extremely supportive of my students doing internships in industry. I believe that this gives students a new perspective, additional funding (typically internships provide higher stipends), and allow them to expand their network. If you are interested in working with one of my students, please reach out and we can schedule a time to discuss your work and identify students that would be a good fit.

PhD Committees

I benefitted significantly by inviting Dr. Eun Kyoung Choe to serve as an external dissertation committee member. Her insights and expertise was very different from what was available to me in my department. Inviting an external committee member is an opportunity to share your work more broadly and to get feedback from an expert in your field. If your work touches on topics in design (e.g.: HCI, DIS, C&C), learning (e.g.: SIGCSE, ITICSE, ASEE, FIE), or collaboration (e.g.: PDC, CSCW, CSCL)—please feel free to reach out to me. If your work is outside of these areas but you think my perspective could beneficial, reach out anyway. I will require that you:

Applying to Temple University

In most cases, I am disconnected from the application process and so reaching out to me about getting admitted to the program likely won’t help your chances. So, if you are an undergraduate student or a masters student, please do not email me about admissions to Temple University. This is especially true for undergraduate students. For PhD students, if you think there is a good match between your interests and mine, you can email me and let me know.

General Advice

Getting feedback about your application materials early in your career can be difficult. As a result, students with a bigger network of mentors tend to have an unfair advantage. My advice is to consult some of the resources that have been developed by leaders in the field. Take a look at the blogs of Philip Guo, Scott Klemmer, and Sauvik Das for extremely candid and practical advice. I share a few of my main recommendations below:

Be Concrete Echoing advice from Scott Klemmer, most applications have vague sentiments about “loving computers since the second grade” or “being excited to join the department at Temple University”. These kinds of statements take up space and do not provide value. Be concrete. As an example, “{Professor X} is doing research related to {topic A} and {Professor Y} is doing research about {topic B}. By combining {topic A} and {topic B} it might be possible to {scientific and social impact}—which is the goal of my work.” By being more specific, you will stand out from the crowd.

Tell YOUR Story Everyone is unique and has something valuable to offer. There are endless students with strong computer science skills. Tell YOUR story. What kind of work or problems are you uniquely situated to address? Why can no one—except you—tackle these kinds of problems?

Show don’t Tell Don’t just talk about what you can do. Provide examples of problems that you have grappled with and how you overcame each problem. It is especially useful if you can show how you tried multiple things before settling on a solution. Perserverence in the face of failure and adversity is an important skill to demonstrate to potential employers.


This FAQ guide is heavily influenced by other senior researchers including Scott Klemmer, Eric Gilbert, and Michael Bernstein.