Despite being quite far removed from my first year at State, this is my first year as a member of STARS. Looks like I'll be making this first year count, though, as I'm heading up undergraduate tutoring for 116 and 216, helping out with SPARCS@DNS, mentoring a student, and occasionally helping out with the mentoring demonstration project. Outside of STARS this semester, I'll be working on my research in tutorial dialogue systems, writing conference and journal papers, working on my written prelim, taking a machine learning course, and keeping up with my duties as a research assistant and volunteer teaching assistant. So my main goal for this semester is just to keep my sanity. :)
Why would a person subject himself to such madness? Well, this leads me to the part about what I did over the summer. A major perk of being a grad student is going to conferences and meeting really cool people from all over the world and seeing the interesting stuff they're working on. This was my first major conference-going summer, and I traveled to Florida, Montreal, and Seoul, presenting my first talk and first poster to an academic audience. It's definitely a thrill to be able to explain your work to people who've been researching the same kinds of things as you for 30 years, or who have authored the definitive textbook in your field (especially if they're good enough to act interested). I'm looking forward to presenting some great results from the undergraduate tutoring project at next year's STARS celebration!