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Thoughts of a Recent Graduate: Valerie Galluzzi

Valerie Galluzzi - 2015 PhD graduate.

Valerie Galluzzi is a 2015 PhD graduate. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Software Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Indiana.

Can you tell us what you've been up to since you graduated with a PhD in Computer Science in 2015?

I have been working as an Assistant Professor in the department of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. So far the first year of working as a faculty member has been a roller coaster ride, but I am very happy to be working at the top undergraduate engineering school in the country. I had always wanted to go to a faculty position in a small teaching school, and it is great to be in a place where I can get to know top-quality students. In my first year here I was able to help students start WOLFPAC (Women Of Like Fields Passionate About Computing), a club for women in computing that got national press. I was also able to start a multi-disciplinary course on the Internet of Things, which I will teach again this winter.

Can you tell us a bit about your dissertation?

My dissertation, Automatic Recognition of Healthcare Worker Hand Hygiene, focused on automatically recognizing whether healthcare workers were washing their hands. As part of my work, healthcare workers in intensive care units would wear wristbands with accelerometers in them during their normal hospital shift. I designed machine learning methods that could determine when they washed their hands during that time period and for how long. I also did work on finding out whether we could recognize correct hand hygiene technique.

Now that you are a professor yourself, do you have any advice for graduate students who might be interested in taking the academic career route?

The most important thing is to figure out whether you would like to focus on teaching or research. A professor at a teaching-intensive school is judged heavily on the quality of their teaching and pedagogy, while a professor at a research-intensive school will be judged heavily on the number of grants they receive and publications they write, as well as their work with graduate students. If you are interested in working in a teaching-intensive position, I would recommend that you pursue working as an in-class teaching assistant during your graduate studies. If you can have a “sole responsibility” course where you put together all course materials that is an excellent opportunity to take. When applying for academic positions at teaching-intensive schools the hiring committee will be very interested in your teaching experience and your teaching statement, which talks about your teaching philosophy. A teaching philosophy is not easy to get overnight—it is something you will build through experiences in class.

If you are interested in working in a research-intensive position, I would still recommend gaining experience as an in-class teaching assistant because classroom teaching is an important part of those positions. However, I would recommend focusing more on research as you will have to figure out what your research agenda will be after graduation—after all, you will be expected to lead a research lab! If possible I recommend helping your advisor to write grants and finding a way to lead a group within the lab. You should also focus on publishing in as many high quality venues as possible since your publication history will be very important to the hiring committee. You may also consider doing postdoctoral work with another lab after graduation to increase your number of publications and widen your scientific network.

Above all you must make sure that your advisor is supportive of your decision. I was fortunate as the first question my advisor, Ted Herman, asked me was “Where do you want to go after graduation?”. I was able to work towards my goal of a position at a teaching-intensive institution from the start because he was supporting me and giving me the right opportunities. If you haven’t told your advisor or they don’t support this choice it will be difficult to get the opportunities you need (e.g., teaching assistantships) to fill out your resume. The preparation for a research scientist at an industry lab is far different from the preparation necessary for academia.


Advisor: Ted Herman | CompEpi

Other "Thoughts of a Recent Graduates" at this link.