Announcing Our Spring 2023 Undergraduate Research Fellows

30 Dec, 2022

Announcing Our Spring 2023 Undergraduate Research Fellows

Each year, the Berkeley Center for New Media pairs undergraduates with a graduate student mentor, offering them the chance to complete real, graduate level research while at Cal. We are thrilled to announce this semester's Fellows.

Isbael Li

Isbael Li is a computer science major, pursuing the Jacobs Design and BCNM New Media certificate. Isabel has served as an intern at the Berkeley Institute of Design and at Apple, where she helped build a platform used by internal AI/ML research teams for developing machine learning. Isabel will be working with Elnaz Tafrihi on InsightXR research.

InsightXR is an AR application that allows inclusive participation of users regardless of their location or time zones, while exploring generative design as a method. InsightXR enables expert and non-expert users to visualize 3D designs and guide the optimization process using AR technology. Our spring 2023 research will be focused on the backend development of InsightXR.

Isbael will work on setting up Amazon Sagemaker as a server to run and test the python scripts.

Riya Manimaran

Riya Manimaran is a Data Science major with a certificate in Design Innovation. Riya has worked extensively as a STEM mentor for middle school students and in Femme4STEM, which exposes underprivileged feminine-presenting youth to professionals in STEM. Riya's coursework includes Design Methodology, Human-Centered Design, Foundations of Data Science, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Data Structures, Discrete Mathematics and Probability Theory, and Designing Information Devices and Systems. Riya will be working with Meg Everett on Hybrid Learning Environments.

This research grows out of an existing partnership between the East Bay Collaborative for Underserved Children (ECUC) and the UC Berkeley School of Education. Through this partnership, K-8 students at schools in Oakland are provided access to technology, mentorship, academic assistance, and enrichment activities with the support of undergraduate mentors who are enrolled in the course ED140. As a result of the pandemic, hybrid opportunities for tutoring and mentorship have emerged in the form of before-school support in which undergraduates form bonds with young students, provide academic support in the classroom during the school day, and offer 1:1 tutoring during afterschool programs, all via Zoom. This work aims to explore how such remote and hybrid configurations can be leveraged to foster equitable learning and poses questions such as: a) How do young students and their undergraduate mentors engage and participate in videoconferencing environments? b) What practices are leveraged by students and their mentors to foster social presence, build community, and promote academic growth? c) What systems and supports need to be in place for young students, undergraduate mentors, and teachers in order to successfully implement hybrid learning environments? We suspect an investigation into the reimagining of these collaborative relationships has the potential to transform practice and work to disrupt the reproduction of educational inequality deepened by the COVID-19 crisis.

Prior to data collection, Riya will survey and synthesize the current literature on social presence within the field of educational research and best practices in synchronous online instruction. Riya will also provide support to the ECUC team coordinating volunteer sign-ups and obtaining consent for the research project. During the data collection phase, Riya will help develop the interview protocol for the undergraduate mentors and conduct interviews with current ED140 students about their experiences working with K-8 students in hybrid environments. Riya will also use qualitative data analysis software and techniques to create codes and develop inter-rater reliability as we analyze the interviews.

Xiaowen Yuan

Xiaowen is a Cognitive Science and Computer Science major. Xiaowen has worked as a research assistant for Duke Kunshan University on a project investigating autistic children's privacy learning process through games, conducting literature reviews and designing and developing games. Xiaowen has also served as a user interface researcher at Berkeley Student Information Systems conducting heuristic evaluations and usability testing for campus partners, and website content migration to increase accessibility. She will be working with Haripriya Sathyanarayanan on Immersive Virtual Environments and Patient-Centered Design in the Pediatric Healthcare Built Environment.

This project examines the pediatric healthcare space specifically the patient room and how to innovate patient participation and engagement in the design of the room based on their needs. It involves an understanding of multiple factors that influence the patient experience that include spatial and environmental design of the physical environment to accommodate operational and user-specific needs, that in turn adapt to the affordances of the space. This is ongoing research conducted at the XRLab and the focus in Spring 2023 will be on: 1. Data Analysis of an experimental study using virtual reality and biosensors. The data collection will be complete in Fall 2022. The data will include subjective data, survey response and biometrics such as eye tracking and emotion analytics. 2. Preparation for the next experimental design study using the same methodology.

Xiaowen will get hands-on experience on a mixed methods research project that involves emerging technology such as virtual reality and biosensors for participatory design in healthcare design.