Abowd, Gregory D.

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    Ignorance is Bliss: A Retrospective On My Career at Georgia Tech
    ( 2021-02-11) Abowd, Gregory D.
    On July 15, 1994, I began my career on the faculty in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech. Throughout my career, I have cherished the over half a dozen opportunities I have had to give GVU Brown Bag talks on various research activities. My time as full-time faculty at Georgia Tech ends at the end of February 2021, and I will begin a new chapter of my career as the Dean of Engineering at Northeastern University in Boston. I would like to reflect on the 26+ years I have spent at Georgia Tech, the College of Computing, and the GVU Center and try to explain why I think this place is so special. In thinking about a theme for this talk, I was reminded that my career has been a series of shifting research agendas, each one inspired by some life events. In all cases, I was buoyed by a bevy of talented and supportive colleagues and students who gave me the courage to jump into a research topic that I didn’t know much about. That “ignorance” has allowed me to be more fearless that I had the right to be. As I jump into my next career, for which I am also blissfully ignorant, I hope I am lucky enough to be surrounded by excellence that inspires success.
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    Using digital technologies to support pandemic response on campus: A case study in the opportunities and challenges of WiFi
    ( 2020-08-27) Abowd, Gregory D.
    Our campus operations were abruptly shut down on March 13, 2020 due to Covid-19, and the campus has not been the same ever since. This has impacted our educational and research mission at Georgia Tech. On the bright side, it has activated a number of collaborative efforts to help Georgia Tech prepare itself for re-opening safely. Whether or not we are successful this Fall 2020 semester, our efforts now will undoubtedly be useful for the future. Everyone has heard about the practice of contact tracing now, and the mad rush for digital solutions to fight against the spread of infectious disease. The CampusLife effort in the School of Interactive Computing (Profs. Abowd, Plötz and De Choudhury) found an opportunity to pivot our research in this direction We are exploring the opportunity to support manual practices of contact tracing with information from the campus wireless network infrastructure. I will give an overview of this effort and report on progress to date. This is very much a work in progress, but it demonstrates some important lessons for all of the GVU community. First, solutions to real problems involves lots of different skills sets and perspectives. Second, there is very interesting balance between public health and privacy, a conversation I hope to engage our community as a way of determining potential solutions.