Undergraduate Research Program

Jenny Liang

Jenny smiling in front of flowersMajor: Computer science, informatics
Mentor: Amy Ko, Informatics

Contact: jliang9@uw.edu

Current research project: Explicit Programming Strategies


Jenny is a Computer Science and Informatics student at the University of Washington. She has had previous experience in studying and building novel community-maintained LTE networks for rural communities in Indonesia and Mexico. She currently works to study bias in toxic language detectors in natural language processing and why this bias appears in these models. She also researches designing a knowledge sharing platform to teach novice programmers new skills by following strategies written and used by expert software developers for programming tasks, which are known as explicit programming strategies Explicit Programming Strategies


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The goal in studying how and why bias might manifest in toxic language detectors is to learn whether better input data to toxic language detectors reduces bias against specific demographics of people. Meanwhile, the goal in studying the effects of a novel explicit programming strategies knowledge sharing platform is to make programming easier to learn for novices by teaching them skills that take experts years to learn. We hope that this will help them to be more self-confident in their programming skills, and ultimately better programmers in the long-term.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research my senior year after bumping into my first research mentor in the halls in the computer science building. I had always been curious as to what research was in computer science, as my experience had mostly been in software engineering in the tech industry, and was intrigued by how the line of research I was doing was technology for social good.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors and make a connection whether it’s cold emails, office hours, or even just seeing them around your department. You might have to try a couple of times to find a professor or lab that’s a good fit, but networking can really help!