Frequently asked Questions


Q: Can we meet?

Sure! During the academic year, I hold weekly group office hours (check homepage for times). You do not need an appointment to attend, but you’re welcome to send me email beforehand so we can use our time most productively. During office hours, please walk right in – do not wait outside. If you are a student, and we make decisions about your academic plan, follow up with an email to me summarizing the decisions we made. It’s essential to have this in writing—my memory is pretty good, but not perfect. I do not hold office hours if I am traveling. Please check the homepage for travel schedule.

Private meetings If the situation warrants, you can make an appointment for a closed-door meeting. Here are situations that do not warrant a closed-door/private meeting.

For all the above situations, other students can benefit from our conversation, so I ask you to meet me during regular office hours.


Q: I want to do research with you…

If you are a student at CMU already:

If you are an undergraduate student not at CMU, please consider applying to our summer internship. If you are applying to graduate school, please see below.

Q: I want to apply to grad school at CMU. Do you have advice?

Jason Hong has the best advice for you. tl;dr Please don’t send me the same email you’ve sent ten other faculty.

If you email me, mentioning a particular project or paper will improve the chances I will respond.

Q: What are you looking for in a graduate student?

Jason has great general advice here as well.

I am particularly impressed by students who show an extraordinary amount of initiative and hard work. Being creative and having a good sense of humour are also positives. I don’t particularly care where you went to school, but I do care what you did there.

Q: I want to take your class, but I am waitlisted. Can you take me off the wait list?

Here’s the deal: come to the first week of classes. Amongst students who attend that week, I will let students in based on a) graduation requirements, b) what you add to the class (e.g. different experience/displinary training), and c) when you enrolled.

Q: I want to get you a small gift to thank you for teaching/writing me a letter/judging our on-campus event…

If you want to express your thanks, a simple thank you note is appreciated. You could also consider donating to the UNICEF or the AAUW so others, like you, can experience the benefits of education. Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Companies and industrial research labs

Q: Can we hire your best students?

Yes, please email me directly, and I’ll be happy to pass on your information to my students (and others who work with me.)

Q: Can you send us your best students on an internship?

Internships are a great way to expose students to real problems and learn how people really use interactive systems. Internships also provide students with valuable experience about what it’s like to work outside the university. We encourage PhD students to seek internships when it will likely contribute to the student’s dissertation research. Consequently, it’s tremendously important that students be able to publish their internship work and use the resulting data and insights to further their research.

When appropriate, code that interns write may be proprietary to the employer. However, employers should anticipate – indeed relish – the idea that students will continue working in the area of their research internship, and that after their internship students will continue to publish and produce code that is often open source. Interns provide their employer the opportunity to closely collaborate with someone immersed in the culture, insights, and innovations of their university. These internships often result in long-term collaborations with the student and with faculty.

If you have an internship opportunity that fits the bill, please email me.

Using our software, data, and experimental materials

We work hard to share our software, experimental materials, and data whenever possible. For our data and experimental materials, please contact us. You can sign up directly for PeerStudio and Talkabout; contact us for source code. To use other software, please contact the first author of the research paper.


This FAQ and the (good) ideas in it come from Scott Klemmer and Jason Hong.