Summer Internship at PARC Becomes Ongoing Research Assistantship

Yunfeng Zhang standing next to PARC sign

After successfully completing a summer internship at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), CIS Ph.D. student Yunfeng Zhang accepted an offer to continue working remotely as a part-time research assistant for PARC, while finishing his Ph.D. research at the University of Oregon. Yunfeng is working on a PARC project that is a multi-institution collaboration including PARC, Carnegie Mellon University, University of California Irvine, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Texas Houston, and numerous other top research labs. The project uses cognitive models—computer programs that simulate human information processing—to investigate the processes involved in human sensemaking. Yunfeng is studying cognitive modeling in his Ph.D. research here at the University of Oregon, and his work with PARC permits him to apply his new expertise on this topic to this exciting project. The project has already provided some important insights into human sensemaking, such as how existing information foraging models can be expanded with theories from the animal foraging field to predict and explain a broad set of behaviors in human information intelligence tasks.

Yunfeng is enthusiastic about this opportunity, explaining that "PARC was a pioneer in the field of human-computer interaction, and it is still a very vibrant place. You see a lot of experts from different domains, including engineering, physics, and computer science. There is routinely exciting collaboration among them. It is very inspiring talking with them and exchanging ideas. It is a life-changing experience." Yunfeng's summer contributions to the project were so great that it was hard for PARC to let him go. The department is delighted that Yunfeng has found this synergistic opportunity that overlaps with his Ph.D. work. Good job, Yunfeng!