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Undergraduate Research Program

Julian Boss

Major: Informatics
Mentor: Katie Davis, iSchool


Current research project: Playing in the Virtual Sandbox: Middle School Students’ Collaborative Practices in Minecraft

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I study how playing games together brings people together. In my research we look at kids playing in a virtual space, Minecraft, and analyze how they collaborate with each other. We look at their verbal and physical interaction to better understand how people’s personas develop, how we can improve collaboration, and how to teach others through games.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research the second I got to UW. My mom is a researcher, and wanting to follow in her footsteps, I immediately started asking around for research opportunities. I was turned down the first few times, but managed to schedule a meeting with the dean of the iSchool (I wasn’t in the major at the time, they’re very welcoming!). He gave me a list of professors I should reach out to, I eventually found Katie Davis, and we started on my project right away!

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be scared! Even if you get turned down or can’t find the best project, there’s no harm in asking! At worst, a professor sees a driven individual trying to expand their own and other people’s knowledge.