Information for Prospective Students

Last update: 2022-01-13

I am accepting graduate students and undergraduates interested in sociological, anthropological, and historical approaches to understanding computer science as a social activity. I am only accepting post-docs who have already secured external funding.


  1. For Prospective Undergraduate Students
  2. For Prospective Graduate Students
    1. Research topics I can fund

Prospective Undergraduates

I advise undergraduate student research both for course credit (e.g. COMP400, COMP402) and as paid research awards.


  • Please note the deadlines for summer research awards like ARIA and SURA are in February. See the relevant websites for the specific deadlines!
  • Project/Honours courses have relatively little lead time needed to set up - I'd need to be contacted at least 2 months before the start of the term you want to do the course.
  • I am on leave for the winter 2022 term but am accepting new undergraduate researchers for the summer 2022 term. (Last update: 2022-01-13)

If you are interested in pursuing a project/Honours course or a paid research project:

  1. First attend a meeting or two of the SHAPE of CS reading group - this way you can meet everybody and get a sense of the type of work we do.
  2. Read these two examples of what undergrads have done in the lab, to get a sense of what would interest you / suitable scope:
    • For a summer research award, Jess Tran conducted a literature review on queerness and computing: Tran, J., & Patitsas, E. (2020). The Computer as a Queer Object.
    • For a COMP 400 (project course), Ines Moreno Boluda conducted a survey of computer scientists on how much they know about conflict minerals: Boluda, I. M., Patitsas, E., & McMahan, P. (2021, June). What do Computer Scientists Know About Conflict Minerals?. In Workshop on Computing within Limits.
    • FYI: if you want to do a study where you conduct interviews, such as interviewing students about their experiences in CS, you are looking at a year-long project at least. Between ethics application, scheduling all your interviews, and properly processing the data, it is infeasible to do such a project in a four month term.
  3. Then send me an email with the word "puffin" in the subject header. Let me know what you're topic(s) you're interested in research wise, what format you're looking for (course credit vs award), and which term(s) you have in mind.

Prospective Graduate Students

I advise Master's and PhD students both in the School of Computer Science and in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education.


  • I recommend contacting me between mid-July and mid-October, so that we can meet and determine if we would be a good match well in advance of the application deadlines.
  • Generally by mid-October I have budgeted all of my grant money for the next year, so if you're contacting me after then, make sure you're in a good position to secure an external fellowship!
  • Both CS and DISE deadlines are usually in December.

How to Apply for Graduate Studies With Me:

  1. Read about how applying to grad school generally works: (grad school involves a lot of reading so get ready now!)
  2. Check our research interests are broadly aligned:
    1. Do you want to do research that uses machine learning, artificial intelligence, or data science? You're in the wrong place. I do not advise projects that apply machine learning. (Note: I do advise projects about how we should teach machine learning!)
    2. Do you want to do research that involves creating educational technologies, or technologies for marginalized groups? You're in the wrong place. I study how to teach computing, not how to use technology to educate (these are different!) I don't advise projects that involve creating technology.
    3. Do you want to do research on computing education, science and technology studies (STS), critical disability studies, sociology of professions and/or higher education? Yay! Carry on! :)
  3. Take stock of your funding situation
    1. I have a list below of topic areas that I expect that I can fund if given sufficient lead time. Take note of which topic areas you would want to do research on.
    2. If you have a clear idea of what you want to research on, and it's not (really) in the list, you'll need to secure external funding to be my student. For you to be a candidate for external funding such as the Canada Graduate Scholarships, you will generally need to be:
      • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
      • With a GPA of A- for the past three years
      • If PhD student: have published at least one peer-reviewed paper
  4. Email me with the following information:
    1. Put the word "puffin" in the subject header, so I can tell you took the time to do your research and read this page.
    2. What research do you want to pursue? Refer to the areas that I can fund, or identify that you have or are likely to get external funding. (I don't want to know what your GPA is.)
    3. Which programme do you want to apply to? Compsci or Education? Master’s or PhD?
      Note: in Canada, a Master’s is generally expected before starting a PhD, and is considered a transitionary degree toward a PhD.
    4. Which term you would want to start your graduate studies?
    5. Why are you interested in grad school? What are your career goals?
    6. Why are you interested in doing research with me?
    7. What research experience you have (if any)
  5. If I have not responded within two weeks
    1. Reread this page carefully. Did you miss something? I habitually ignore emails that start off with phrases like "I want to do machine learning for..." or "I am interested in computer vision research." I get a lot of canned emails that are sent to every CS prof.
    2. Check you got my auto-response (I am on leave for the winter 2022 term). If you didn't get an auto-response you may have mistyped my email.
    3. If you've checked all of that, send me a reminder email. As noted, I am on leave this term (winter 2022) and am not regularly checking email.

Fundable Research Topics

Below I have listed 20 topics, that if given at least 9 months lead time to apply for grants, I expect to be able to fund.

  1. Research topics on rethinking how science and technology ("technoscience") are fundamentally done
    1. Crip technoscience
    2. Eco-crip approaches to STEM
    3. Anti-extractivist STEM
    4. Abolitionist STEM
  2. Research topics on improving STEM education (CS education, engineering education, physics education, etc)
    • all of the topics in the cluster above
    1. Supporting disabled & queer STEM educators
    2. Teaching STEM audiences about crip technoscience
    3. Teaching STEM audiences about eugenics
    4. Teaching STEM audiences about extractivism
  3. Research topics on improving CS education
    • all of the topics in the clusters above
    1. Teaching CS audiences about the philosophy of CS, with particular attention to ethics and epistemology
    2. Teaching CS audiences about science and technology studies (STS)
    3. Teaching CS audiences about the history of CS
    4. Teaching CS audiences about critical disability studies & ableism in technological design
    5. Teaching CS audiences about colonialism & colonialism/imperalism in CS
    6. Teaching CS audiences about sustainability and the roles (positive and negative) that CS has in the climate crisis
    7. Teaching CS audiences about the material origins of computing technologies (e.g. conflict minerals)
    8. Identifying pedagogical content knowledge for teaching advanced CS topics (e.g. AI/ML, NLP, HCI, security, networking, operating systems, digital logic, theory of computation)
    9. Analysing and supporting the working conditions of CS educators
  4. Research topics on analysing/improving CS as a discipline
    • all of the topics in the clusters above
    1. Labour issues and professionalization in CS; with particular interest in occupational closure and masculinity contest cultures
    2. Epistemic pluralism in CS; with particular interest in queering CS, cripping CS, epistemic decolonizing of CS, and the slow science movement
    3. Political consciousness within CS; with particular interest in computer scientists organizing for policy changes (e.g. #TechWontBuildIt, The Karlskrona Manifesto)