Majors: Computer Science and Physics
Ian Jacobi works on two different research projects. One involves semantic web technologies, and the other is astronomy education research. In both cases, his involvement was led by a strong interest in the topics, a desire to further his education, and to position himself well for graduate studies.
Jacobi describes two very different research environments. His astronomy education research, he says, is a bit different from what people normally think of research.
“It’s not so much doing lots of experiments and setting up precise tests and analyzing results, but rather, since it’s a much longer research project that needs several months for a single experiment, it's more about making sure the experiment succeeds with my help,” he said. “On the other hand, there has been a little bit of results analysis and probably a bit more before it's all over, so there is some ‘traditional’ lab work to be done there.”
Jacobi says his semantic web project is drastically different from what you would expect research to be, especially since it’s in computer science, which has rather interesting research methods as a whole.
“A lot of my work has been helping out with coding for the ‘experiments’ and actually being in the thick of helping out with brainstorming and experimentation. It's quite a lot of fun, and it's really energized me to keep thinking and playing around with other potential avenues of research in my head,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, Jacobi gains different assets from each type of research.
“My work with Heidi (Newberg, Associate Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy) has really helped me to understand the learning process in so far as it applies to undergraduate education, and it’s also given me a healthy respect for professors and teachers who write their own materials.”
His semantic web research, he continues, “Really helped me work as a partner in a small team, as I’ve regularly met with my graduate partner and helped to divide up work and tasks hopefully rather evenly between us. In one instance in particular, I recall helping my partner on tracking a rather nasty bug, which really illustrated the power of having multiple minds and eyes working on a single project.”