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Student Voices:
Computing and Informatics

Hear about some of the experiences of your fellow Drexel students about their experiences applying for and undertaking fellowships.



Tim Gorichanaz: Passing his own endurance test

PhD student Tim Gorichanaz on the run toward Fulbright
By Erica Levi Zelinger, Assistant Director of Communication, Pennoni Honors College

August 2015
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Every 45 minutes, Tim Gorichanaz’s iPhone 5s would vibrate. It was the Reminders feature alerting him. It would sometimes startle Tim, sometimes provide a jolt of energy. It was an opportunity to record a free-form voice memo to himself. Part reflection, part research for an academic paper, these personal messages were verbal receipts – proof of the stages the adventurous and intellectual 25-year-old went through in his first 100-mile, 31-hour, 41-minute, 49-second, ultrarunning race June 20-21 in Loudonville, Ohio.

"I had a scare a little while ago. I had what [my friend] Michael Massie would describe as a slight stabbing pain in my lung. So that was a little scary because I was like, 'Well, I might die. And then on my grave they would have to write ‘Did Not Finish’. But then I was thinking that that's funny because, when you're dead, you kinda did finish. That's, like, the definition of finishing." —voice memo at 9 hours, 18 minutes

Training for and running ultramarathons offers Tim plenty of time for “mental digestion,” and though he thinks of himself as rather self-reflective (“read: overly ruminating”), it took working on a Fulbright application with the Drexel Fellowships Office this summer to figure out how running came to play such a role in his life, and how this form of exercise has brought many of his interests together.

Originally from southeastern Wisconsin, Tim, got his BA in advertising and Spanish from Marquette University in Milwaukee. He’d already developed such varied hobbies as painting in watercolors, strumming on his guitar, studying some obscure language, writing, and travel. But in running, Tim learned perseverance.

TimRunningIt started on a lark when his mother signed Tim and his siblings up for a 5k at the Milwaukee County Zoo in 2010. The sometimes-solitary pursuit brought a not-so-well-blended family – disjointed by several marriages, half-siblings, and even his stepfather’s felony arrest and subsequent deportation – together to heal, step by step. He moved on to an 8k and then a marathon. The distances grew, and so did the bonds he had with his family.

“I think this stems from an interest in trying to confront bigger and bigger challenges, and seeing how I respond,” Tim says.

And he discovered how doing a PhD program in information studies is not unlike running an ultra.

I saw how conversation during an ultramarathon can create powerful bonds,” Tim wrote in his personal essay for Fulbright. “Because around the words, there is grammar. And around the grammar, people.”

Tim is fascinated with the information experience. How does the mode in which we receive a piece of information affect the way we experience that information? In running, Tim seeks to understand the information behavior of athletes during ultrarunning events. But his fascination with communication stretches outward to two other research domains: religion and language.

In his Fulbright application, Tim writes, he’s looking to pair his love of languages with an opportunity to have a supported, meaningful, self-directed, immersive experience abroad. He’s particularly interested in bilingualism and what happens when languages meet the Internet.

The Basque Country and Wales are two locations where a minority heritage language (Basque/Welsh) is spoken alongside a majority language (Spanish/English). In places like these, each language tends to take on certain social roles. Tim hopes to research how those roles change when new communications technologies come along.

He does admit that he’s been obsessed with the Basque Country and Wales for far less academic reasons.

“Both have lots of sheep, green hills, and quaint homesteads,” Tim says. “I love that. Both have superlative food. Wales has castles and is home to one of my favorite poets. The Basque Country has an amazing art and fashion culture. I've even gone so far as to invent a fictitious (or is it?) family history for myself that traces my roots back to the Basque Country and ultimately ancient Wales, though this is (mostly) speculation.”

Tim has been inventing fictitious characters since he started writing novels in eighth grade. From a raccoon-starring fable for grownups to a medieval nomadic Japanese tribe in modern-day rural Wisconsin, Tim’s six novels and numerous short stories incorporate his interests in history, philosophy, linguistics, and spirituality and tie them into tales of magical realism.

And perhaps it’s this magical realism that will keep him persevering. He’s hoping to become a Fulbright recipient. He’s striving to become a published author. He’s planning to run a marathon in all 50 states. He hopes to find a tenured-track position and continue his research.

TimGFinish

“Running long distances, to me, is about exploring your limits,” Tim says, and Fulbright, publishing, and academic job-hunting are much the same.

“It’s about seeing how far you can push yourself, adapting on the fly if something isn't working ... and if you break, finding a way to keep going anyway. It's a practice of cultivating perseverance by confronting ever-bigger challenges.” 

Read more about Tim, his running and his research at timgorichanaz.com.

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Jordan Jobs: DAAD RISE Scholar in Germany

August 2013

Jordan Jobs (Information Systems BS, 2016, PHC) was also featured in Delta Zeta’s national magazine The Lamp of Delta Zeta.  In the summer of 2013, Jordan conducted research in the Electrical Engineering department at the Technische Universität Dortmund in Dortmund, Germany, where she helped to develop integrated and intuitive smart house interfaces. Below, Jordan Jobs, a recipient of the DAAD RISE Scholarship, shares her experience in Germany. 

You can read more about her time in Germany on page 24 of the Delta Zeta magazine. You can also check out her blog post below written in August ’13.

During my time in the DAAD RISE Scholar Program, I am interning at the Technische Universität Dortmund for PhD candidate, Falk-Moritz Schaefer, in the electrical engineering department. Falk’s research deals with home convergence networks, using different systems to connect smart home technologies.

One of the problems, besides the cost of smart home technology, is that the interfaces are not intuitive. My contribution to the project is to investigate current smart home interfaces and utilize usability principles to evaluate and propose a set of interface guidelines specifically for the smart home project’s interface. The guidelines will be utilized for the project group’s graphical user interface (GUI) design. This aspect is important because the system can work perfectly fine, but if users cannot interact with the interface easily the project will not be successful.

The usability principles that I have been referring to were introduced to me during my Human Computer Interaction course in the iSchool taught by Dr. Jennifer Rode; I’m very excited to be utilizing and exploring this subject in more depth through this project.

Also, I will be helping the project group come up with scenarios for their prototype. In the upcoming fall semester, the prototype has to be demoed to several audiences with a diverse set of knowledge in the smart home domain in ten minutes. It is a challenge to have an audience relate to a smart home prototype in a college classroom in only ten minutes. I will be staging the demo so that all of the prototypes’ capabilities are shown in the allotted time, as well as creating a scenario that can be related to so the audience can understand the significance of the project.

Before my internship in Dortmund is over, I will be giving a presentation on my smart home usability research to the whole department as well. The presentation will be similar to a bachelor’s thesis presentation which is done by all undergraduates at the end of their studies. I am very grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had here in Germany. I’ve been able to work, interact, and embrace another country, an opportunity that I didn’t know I’d ever get to receive.

Jordan was one of four Drexel students who spent their summers conducting research through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Research Internships for Science & Engineering (RISE) Program. They all met at the RISE conference in Heidelberg, Germany and sent this picture.

 

 Read more about these students: Drexel’s 2013 DAAD RISE Recipients

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The DAAD RISE program offers 2-3 month research internships in science and engineering at German universities and research institutions. U.S. undergrads are paired with German PhD students to help them with their dissertation research. The working language is English.

The DAAD RISE Pro program allows graduate students to conduct 2-6 month research internships in science and engineering at companies in Germany.

For more information visit the program websites (DAAD RISE and DAAD RISE Pro) or email fellowships@drexel.edu!

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