Migrating Birds, Computer Science, and Why I Love Teaching Introductory Programming at Cornell

I regularly volunteer to teach introductory programming (CS1110: Introduction to Computing Using Python) because I love bringing ideas from computer science to students from all over the university.

migrating birdsOne of my go-to stories is of a first-year bird enthusiast who took CS1110 in their first semester and applied their newly-acquired skills that very same semester to research with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. That work became a publication that won the Best Paper Award in the Computational Sustainability Track of AAAI-2013, one of the premier conferences in artificial intelligence. (The student went on to receive a PhD in Zoology.)

On the research side, I’ve collaborated with an amazing set of Cornell undergraduates. In fact, Cornell is the one institution in the entire world that has the most undergraduate alumni going on to win the ACM Prize in Computing: Scott Aaronson ‘00, Sanjay Ghemalwat ‘87, Jon Kleinberg ‘93!  The ACM prize “recognizes an early to mid-career fundamental innovative contribution in computing that, through its depth, impact and broad implications, exemplifies the greatest achievements in the discipline.”

Lillian Lee
Charles Roy Davis Professor, Departments of Computer Science and Information Science
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Computer Science
Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science