GVU Center Brown Bag: Gregory D. Abowd, "Confessions of an Applied Computer Scientist"


In my nearly quarter century of work at Georgia Tech, I have been involved in many different projects with many different collaborators.  While I refer to myself as a researcher in Ubicomp and HCI, I am even more comfortable these days with the label of “applied computer scientist.” In this talk, I want to explain what I mean by an applied computer scientist and what it means to apply computing to some other non-computing problem domains. These application domains can vary widely, from health to education to materials science. The domain collaborators can also vary in terms of whether they are practitioners or researchers in their own domain.  Regardless of this variability, I have developed a way of thinking about the collaborative relationship between a computing researcher and these domain specialists.  A lot of it is just common sense, but it is valuable to make that common sense explicit when we think about how to develop a lasting relationship with another domain.  Using my own successes and failures as a backdrop, I will provide a simple framework to understand how to distinguish different kinds of contributions of applied computing. This talk is meant to provide advice on when and how to develop a long-term cross-domain collaboration. Though I won’t speak explicitly about this, the lessons from my talk can also be applied to collaboration across different subdisciplines of computing, so I think the talk is valuable for a very broad computing research community.

Speaker Bio:

Gregory D. Abowd is a Regents’  Professor and J.Z. Liang Chair in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, as well as Associate Dean for Off Campus and Special Initiatives in the College of Computing.  He has  been on the faculty at Georgia Tech since 1994. An applied computer scientist, Dr. Abowd's research interests concern how the advanced information technologies of mobile, wearable and ubiquitous computing impact our everyday lives when they are seamlessly integrated into our living spaces. Dr. Abowd's work has involved applications as diverse as education (Classroom 2000), home life (The Aware Home) and health (technology and autism, CampusLife). He and his current and former students are active inventors of new sensing and interaction technologies. He has recently helped to co-create an interdisciplinary research effort, COSMOS, which investigates the collaboration of materials, manufacturing, electronics, computing and design to explore an alternative future computing industry. Dr. Abowd is an ACM Fellow and a member of the ACM SIGCHI Academy. 

Event Details


  • Thursday, January 10, 2019
    11:30 am - 1:00 pm

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