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Graduate Student Profiles
Ph.D. in Information & Computer Science
1st-year Ph.D. student in Computer Science
4th-year Ph.D. student in Information & Computer Science
Sun Young Park
4th-year Ph.D. student in Information & Computer Science
5th-year Ph.D. student in Computer Science
Nicole Miya Sylvester
2nd-year Ph.D. student in Information & Computer Science
4th-year Ph.D. student in Computer Science
2012-13 Google Ph.D. Fellow
Arjun Satish
Arjun Satish
Arjun Satish is one of two Bren School recipients of the 2012-13 Google Ph.D. Fellowship Award. Satish was recognized for his research in "CueNet: A Context Discovery Framework for Personal Photos." He was nominated by Bren Professor Ramesh Jain, a past recipient of the Google Faculty Research Award.
Where are you from?
I was born in Bangalore, India. I spent most of my childhood moving around different parts of the country before coming to UCI.
What are your previous academic degrees?
I have a bachelor of engineering in Electronics and Communications from Sir MVIT, an engineering college in Bangalore.
Why did you choose to pursue graduate studies at UCI?
I learned about computers while tinkering with my Linux box in India. Two years into my undergrad studies, I was working on a project that involved making a log of personal conversations. Each time a user met somebody, it would make an entry saying, "You met X, and talked about Y." The project was a lot of fun, introduced me to what computer science is, and made me realize the importance of principled thinking and understanding computing as a science, and not just hacking. I came to UCI for an M.S. degree, but after speaking to Professor Ramesh Jain a couple of times, I just couldn't resist the idea of staying on for a Ph.D.
What is your current research focus?
Human beings are known to behave contextually rather than logically. Computers are not like that. They always behave very logically in any situation. In a nutshell, I'm building CueNet, a computational framework that would somehow use context to make decisions. For CueNet, context comes from personal devices like mobile phones or personal calendars/emails, social networks, websites like Yelp, or conference calendars. CueNet magically "senses" the data present on these sources and tries to conclude what a user is doing (e.g., Is he at a concert, a meeting or an academic conference?), and who he is with (e.g., friends from high school, family or colleagues from a previous job).
Why did you choose to go into this field of study?
I started working on Prof. Jain's photo management project, where we were trying to use events to organize photos. One thing led to another, and we hit head first into a blurry picture of CueNet. We have been trying to understand and realize it ever since.

While in photo management, we used to take photos of everything we did, such as the first "paper design" of CueNet.
It took a whole year to take it from that piece of paper, to a real algorithm. It took a vital tip from my co-advisor, Dr. Amarnath Gupta, before we finally started to crack it.

What are your future plans?
I'm open to any sector – industry or academia – as long as I get to go deeper in the area I'm working in. (It should keep me occupied.)
How do you like to spend your time outside of school?
I love tasting food from different parts of the world, so I often try out different restaurants in the area. It is surprising how much variety one can find in Southern California. Besides that, I like listening to all kinds of music, going to concerts. I dabble in bad photography now and then.
Any words of wisdom for prospective grad students looking to study at UCI?
Not sure if I'm the right person to give advice – I still haven't made it out alive! But one token of advice I would give students who want to pursue research is the following: The nature of any Ph.D. program forces students to work alone. (Each student has to produce their own unique dissertation – no group work!) In CS, the scope of the problems is getting bigger and, therefore, harder to tackle single-handedly. So make sure you discuss your problem and solution space with people from different areas as often as you can. Their feedback might sound "harsh" sometimes, but it's better to "fail" early than later.