Matthew Zent

Matthew Zent

Project title: Q-Chef: A User Experience Based on AI Models of Curiosity


July 28

Absolutely wonderful Summer REU experience. I must say this what not what I was expecting, but I was happily surprised. Today’s poster talks went excellent. I was happy with how I addressed everyone’s questions and how I represented my Summer’s work. I would have been proud either way, but it helps that I received 1st place in the poster competition. Little did I realize at the time I probably won’t see many of those people again.
My advice to others thinking of joining or in an REU is push yourself. Make it your goal to produce something you’re proud of. If you’ve been assigned work that doesn’t fit your professional or academic goals, talk to your advisor to find another project or part of the project you can work on. However, that doesn’t mean don’t take on work you’re not comfortable with. Step out of your comfort zone and learn something new.

Farwell, UNCC.

July 21

We’re coming to the end of the Summer and it seems like everyone is scrambling to find results. I was able to extract a few user models from our survey and I am very pleased with my results. Lab in the Wild posted our survey to their Facebook page and we’ve already received more than 100 submissions. This Thursday was Dr. Maher’s last day in Charlotte so we said our good byes. I’m very happy with the relationship we’ve made over the Summer and am glad we had the chance to work together.

I finished my large research paper this week too. Now it’s just a matter of creating a shortened version for the REU. Additionally, after a number of revisions my poster has come together. By far my favorite part of this summer was producing something I’m proud to show to others. Be my poster, paper, survey, or models I’m truly proud of what I’ve done this Summer.

July 14

Even though this Summer’s research is wrapping up, I’m the busiest I’ve been yet. Currently, I’m working simultaneously on classifying our recipe data based on cuisine type and writing a paper for Dr. Maher. Juggling has been difficult and sometimes I’ve struggled finding the creative spark to write. Dr. Maher will be back next week and we can talk about prioritizing a few tasks. It’s about time to start thinking about my poster and abstract for our REU. Contrary to other students, I’m quite excited for presenting. I’m happy with what I’ve produced thus far and can’t wait to share.

This weekend will be a relaxing break from work before next week’s scrambling sets in. No major plans outside of our ever growing dinner party. At the least I’ll be making a few more memories with these new friends before saying goodbye at the end of the month.

July 7

Are you as curious about food as you think you are? We got our IRB exemption this week and now the survey is live and collecting data! The day of launch I was both excited and extremely nervous. I had to make a few on the spot fixes, because our curiosity scoring method was telling everyone they were not very curious about food. But after that, the survey has been smooth sailing. Even more exciting is that the school news wants to do a story on my research. Because of that I’ll be making webpage that describes what QChef is all about and the people involved.

I’ve set a few goals to complete before the summer is over. Ranging from writing machine learning code to classify the recipes in our dataset that lack tags to documenting the html code I’ve written so others can make changes to it when I leave this summer. Needless to say, it will be a busy three weeks.

This afternoon some REU students are going to Carowinds. With only a few weekends left we’ll have to make the best of our remaining time together. Good times are yet to come.

June 30

Another week of progress behind me. Our initial IRB approval was returned in need of clarification. We made the necessary adjustments and it has been resubmitted. Additionally, LabintheWild is currently reviewing my web survey and we should be hearing back from them soon. For the time being it’ll be a waiting game until we can make more progress and start collect data.

It’s crazy to think we are already working on our presentations. Dr. Maher was gone again this week, but we were still able to chat about what direction the presentation should go in. We also discussed what I want to work on for the rest of the summer while we wait for approval and data. Instead of working on the Q-Chef app like we planned at the beginning of the summer, I asked to shift gears and work with Nadia on the back end of the recommender system. I’m excited to get started with the hard code next week.

The weekend of the fourth is going to be a blast. Tomorrow most of us are heading down to Myrtle Beach for the day/weekend. With fireworks and festivities next Tuesday, there will be much more fun to come. And for my readers, enjoy your weekend in this great country of ours.

June 23

Dr. Maher was back this week and we’ve gotten a lot accomplished. For starters, we sent in our form for IRB approval which means our question set is complete. We’re very excited about getting the survey up on the web. I’m the only web developer working on this project, but I’ve made big strides even though this is my first time using php. We have a fully functioning question set connected to our database and the results page just needs a few more finishing touches.

I’m looking forward to getting our IRB response as well as starting to think about how we want our QChef app to work/look. Thinking more about the end of this Summer, I’m excited for making a poster and extended abstract. I feel like Dr. Maher will be very insightful when it comes to deciding which aspects of this project should be highlight as well as overall presentation tips.

The week has come to an end in the school’s hammocks once again. As a group we made sure the computer science REU was “invited” to the CRS student lunch. More outings to come this weekend, then a Knights baseball game next Monday!

June 16

I’ve been flying solo this week since Dr. Maher has been at a conference abroad. The majority of my time has been devoted to researching data visualization techniques and infographics. Part of our LabintheWild survey will consist of displaying to the user in an engaging way how they compare to others. As a team we are still haven’t pinpointed exactly how we will accomplish this, but it’s in the works.

Dr. Maher, Kaz, and I Skyped in on the 14th to polish our survey questions. One of the biggest problems I’ve encountered thus far has been a divide in the direction as a team we plan to go with the Q-Chef project. A common goal and understanding of the problem at hand is crucial. If my definition of what we are measuring differs from a team member’s, it becomes very difficult to come to agreement on how to properly find that measure. The only way to solve this is communication, which we’ve done a lot of!

Another weekend approaches and I look forward to the fun it brings. I’ve concluded our REU group is one of the closest on campus. It’s evident when we go to our weekly seminars that we are more of a community than the other groups. Maybe it’s all the meals we’ve been sharing together that keep us so close.

June 9

Week two was met with excitement and an eagerness to meet the rest of the Q-Chef team. Kaz skyped in with Dr. Maher and I on Tuesday. What a good feeling to have my ideas both challenged and back by a faculty member. One is a reward for intelligent thinking, while the other pushes me even harder.

One of the major goals of this week was to create our food curiosity survey mock up. Not only did we workshop the questions, but got feedback from other faculty on its readability and layout. Additionally, I’m almost done the online version of our question set. I’ve created two versions depending on how we decide to host the page, one in javascript and a more basic page on Google Forms. Soon enough we will be able to send in our IRB approval application, once we solidify the question set.

On a lighter note, Friday’s challenge course was a refreshing step out of the lab. It’s obvious to me I’m lucky to get to play/work this great group of people. Not only that, but I’m extremely impressed in how well all of us mesh together. Two weeks have gone by in a flash. It’s starting to dawn on me that I’m going to have to say goodbye to all these new people I’ve met soon.

June 2

The nerves were real flying into Charlotte Sunday. This was to be expected with the bombardment of a new environment coupled with new faces and no idea where this summer will take me. But, new lasts as long as you want and with one week down I’m definitely more comfortable on this new campus.

After meeting with Dr. Maher, I was able to get a grasp of what amazing project I will be a part of this summer. Next, came the plan. Milestones and things to look forward to made my goals feel closer in my grasp. What is are my goals? Hmm, good question. I flew into Charlotte with the goal of learning what it means to do research in order to answer the question of whether I should go to graduate school. I think that has changed and took a metamorphosis in these past few days. I would like to be a part of something this summer I am proud to tell people that I worked on. If I figure out if graduate school is for me on the way, then perfect!

Week one has been full of reviewing other people’s work and listening in on other project meetings to get an understanding of what it means to do research and to obtain a better grasp of the realm curiosity as it relates to food. Looking forward to next week I hope to create a comprehensive list of questions on curiosity and food preference to get started on creating a survey to collect data. Additionally, I will be meeting with the rest of the Q-Chef team and continuing to look in on many other of Dr. Maher’s projects. Don’t worry about me, this summer is mine.