Tim Nelson, PhD Candidate

Degree: PhD, Computer Science

Hometown: Worcester, MA

Why did you choose to attend WPI?
I was already living in Worcester when I applied, and had the chance to visit with some of the faculty before accepting. I was impressed with them from the beginning.

How has WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, been beneficial to you during your time at WPI?
I’d like to participate in even more group work because of its value. As for "theory and practice", it is dear to me. I work in an area that can be misconstrued as pointless theory, but we focus on the applications of our work as well. I don't think I'd be as happy if I focused exclusively on one side or the other.

What do you think are WPI’s greatest strengths?
Its students. I've been very impressed with the quality of the undergraduates I get to do research with. The MQPs really do give us a great pool of collaborators!

How have the professors in your department impacted your studies and your life?
My first week as a PhD student at WPI, I was super nervous, strung out, and playing catch-up. I still remember how Professor Wills stopped me in the hall, asked me how I was doing, and offered to talk if I needed to. He didn't have to do that, and he wasn't my adviser or teaching any of my classes at the time. His kindness made a big impression on me and made me much less nervous about WPI. This quality is common to many of the professors here.

What are your research projects?
I work on the Margrave project with Kathi Fisler (WPI), Dan Dougherty (WPI) and Shriram Krishnamurthi (Brown University). Margrave helps people explore the consequences of policies they write, which we believe results in more secure, less buggy systems.

What do you hope to do when you graduate? What would be your ideal job?
I love my research, but I also like working with students. It seems that WPI's hybrid philosophy has corrupted me; I'd like to find a place where I can do research and also teach.

Groups or extracurricular activities you participate in at WPI:
I'm part of the ALAS (Applied Logic and Security) group in the CS department.

Academic or professional awards you have received:

  • Institute Fellowship recipient my first year
  • Carl and Inez Weidenmiller fellowship recipient my second year.

Additional comments:
I came in not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, and the best advice I got was to attend research groups and colloquia. The groups in the CS department are very open to visitors. I was able to branch out, talk to a lot of people, and develop a really good understanding.

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