This is a guest post by Lily Xu, a Ph.D. student at Harvard University, and co-chair of the 2019 Computational Sustainability Doctoral Consortium at Carnegie Mellon University (CompSust DC 2019). Lily can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In October, a lively group of graduate students and junior researchers met up in Pittsburgh for the fourth annual Computational Sustainability Doctoral Consortium. Hosted at Carnegie Mellon University, the consortium aims to bring students together to promote discussion and promote collaboration. This event offers a concentrated opportunity for students to learn about relevant computational techniques and their novel applications to sustainability challenges.
This year’s DC was the largest yet — we had 55 participants from a diverse range of institutions, including from Canada, Colombia, and Spain. Whereas previous years were attended mostly by computer science PhD students, this year’s participants included assistant professors, researchers in industry, and students studying public policy, geography, environmental engineering, veterinary medicine, and food science.
The events included three talks from CompSust affiliated-faculty (Fei Fang, Zico Kolter, and Doug Fisher), four student tutorials, numerous student presentations and posters, and a lively “collaborathon”! The student presentations covered a broad range of topics, spanning ecology, food waste, agriculture, energy, climate adaptation, and transportation. A full list of student speakers and presentation titles are available here.
Participants were incredibly engaged throughout the entire two-and-a-half days, including at group dinners and Sunday field trip. Personally, I feel fortunate to have played a role in this community-building event, and am very grateful that this community exists in the first place! There is a lot of excitement to continue making the DC an annual event even after the NSF Expeditions in Computing award for CompSustNet ends in 2020. We were thrilled to already hear of interest among some participants in organizing the event next year.
One of the responses we received in the feedback survey offered a reflection that made the entire effort of organizing the DC worthwhile: “It was a fantastic experience and will continue to be highly recommended. I learned a great deal and with the network feel more confidence about my work.” We are grateful to everyone who made the weekend so worthwhile by participating in the DC, whether as a keynote speaker, tutorial host, student presenter, or attendee.
CompSust DC 2019 was co-organized by Priya Donti (CMU), Lily Xu (Harvard), Genevieve Flaspohler (MIT), Aaron Ferber (USC), and Sebastian Ament (Cornell), with faculty support from Carla Gomes (Cornell), Zico Kolter (CMU), and Fei Fang (CMU). The organizers would like to thank Ann Stetser (CMU) and Nancy McCarthy (CMU) for extensive administrative support. They would also like to thank this event’s co-sponsors, the National Science Foundation, Carnegie Mellon University, and Cornell University.