Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Kyle Murray
Degree: B.S. Computer Science ’12 (Pursuing Ph.D. in computer science at MIT)
Occupation: Graduate student
Residence: Cambridge, MA
Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
Once it was on my shortlist, the particular fact that sealed the deal was that Professor Michael L. Scott’s research on concurrent linked queues made it into the Java standard library, used by millions of programmers. Rochester made the list originally because of its relatively small size and strong research focus.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
After taking a cruise to Alaska with my family, I enjoyed a summer internship in Adobe’s programming language research group. But the next true chapter of my life started in the fall, when I started as a Ph.D. student in User Interface Design research group at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
My time and opportunities I had at the University of Rochester played a big role in my choice to follow that path. In particular, I met a future colleague of mine, Greg Little, while he was an intern at Xerox in Rochester. He would spent one day a week at our lab in the Department of Computer Science, and he had such unique research ideas that I decided to further my education in his old research group after graduating from the U of R.
How do you balance your work and personal life?
I’ve found that expressing genuine interest in something often leads to obligations in that area, so I try to find interesting aspects of both work and personal life, and then get involved by sharing that interest with other people. So, my personal strategy is to try to balance and estimate the obligations that I have in both my work and personal life so that I get a good amount of both. Often, this means that I know exactly when I should leave my lab, because there’s an event coming up that I’m helping out with around dinner time.
How are you still connected with the University?
Since graduating, I’ve realized how interconnected the wider research community really is. It turns out that people with connections to the university are everywhere, so I’ve met plenty of fellow students (and a professor) here who previously studied at the U of R. There’s even a plaque with the bust of George Eastman outside of a classroom here, and students rub his nose for good luck before exams.
When and how did you choose your major?
I’m one of those people who had a major in mind even before college. I didn’t change my mind, but I did learn what I wanted todo with my major in my sophomore year when I met my research advisor, Prof. Jeff Bigham. He showed me that the way that I liked to program was really useful in the context of building research systems for human-computer interaction.
Where would you like to be in five years?
I’d like to be coming up on finishing my doctoral thesis. I’d like to have chosen between becoming an academic or industrial researcher, and hopefully I would have already started applying for jobs in those areas. You might think I’d already want to be done in five years, but I’m having a blast so far, so I’m not tackling this at a rush.
What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?
The campus and wider Rochester community is full of opportunities to be funded for doing research, if you look for them. In particular, I was supported by the Kearns Center and Xerox for overlapping periods that encompassed all four years of my study. For students looking for a late night snack, the URMC has surprising tasty options.