REU Week 2

This week was another whirlwind, especially since it was a short week! The team got a fair amount accomplished, though, so that’s been good!

This week we welcomed Arash to our team!

Arash is a newly-arrived PhD student and will be serving as our graduate student mentor for the summer. He has more of a background in health, but he’s going to be learning quite a bit about coding alongside of Michael and I this summer.

Particularly keeping things interesting was the fact that our project shifted gears quite substantially at our Tuesday meeting. We’re now shifting our focus to mothers and creating some kind of application, likely a mobile one, that serves as a quick-and-easy-access journal/tracker. To accomplish this, we’ll be heavily incorporating micro-tasks/interactions, such as quickly recording a voicenote or taking a picture, possibly without having to even load the app and without having to use two hands. We also want researchers to have the ability to access the data that the moms are inputting, so we’ll be designing a couple different front-end and back-end systems.

Because our project has pretty well aligned with Bri and Carla’s REU project, we’ve formed a reading group with them and will be meeting with them on Tuesdays and Thursdays to discuss related readings!

This week has consisted mostly of reading articles on and researching similar technology available to moms, namely apps. We found some really interesting articles, particularly Digital Motherhood by Lorna Gibson and Vicki Hanson, that discussed how and why moms use and are empowered by use of technology, which ranges from apps to social media sites.

Based on these readings, we then started creating an outline for our related works in our paper. As we continue to read papers, we’ll be adding to them. It’s crazy how this is taking shape already!

The team also met today (Friday), and we have a pretty clear idea of where we’re going for next week. Michael and I will be:

  • reading more papers, approximately two per day. Suggested readings include those revolving around micro-tasks such as those written by Jaime Teevan and Terra Matthews.
  • deciding what platform we think we’ll want to use. Like I said, we’re looking at most likely a mobile app, but we’ve yet to decide if that will be an iOs or Android app.
  • deciding what inputs and outputs we’ll be using, as well as deciding what the backend might look like.
  • creating high-level functional diagrams.
  • deciding on which system architecture pieces we’re going to incorporate.
  • making our methods more specific to our work.

Our ultimate deliverable for this summer, outside of the ones for our final paper, will be a functioning application. In our meeting with Dr. Clawson today, we discussed a general timeline, and we likely won’t get to field testing this summer, but we should hopefully get to do some lab-testing, likely on other REU students. The goal is to be doing this testing by the end of Week 8 or 9.

Also, because we’re limited by the summer, we can probably only publish some workshop papers, but if we decide to continue helping with the research remotely, there’s a good chance we may get to publish; for example, Dr. Clawson just had a paper accepted to a conference that came out of an REU project last summer, so that’s exciting!

Looking forward to next week! It’s going to be another good but busy one, I have the feeling!