Living his Best Grad Life: Kobla Setor Zilevu
May 11, 2020
As a first-year Ph.D. computer science student, Kobla Setor Zilevu has some guiding words to offer fellow incoming graduate students. "The best piece of advice I can offer entering graduate students is to enjoy the process and love what you are researching."
And the love of his research is evident in the many areas he is exploring, which includes healthcare, human computer interaction, user experience design, and user interface design.
This summer, Zilevu will be interning with Facebook as a user experience researcher and returning to Blacksburg in the fall to continue his Ph.D. research in human computer interaction. He admits that he is very interested and torn between pursuing an avenue to becoming a professor or working in industry as a research scientist.
Most recently, Zilevu was honored with the William Preston Society Master's Thesis Award in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The award was established in 1999 to recognize graduate students whose thesis presents the best original research with potential to benefit all people. His dissertation, Interactive Interfaces for Capturing and Annotating Videos of Human Movement Performance, was selected by a faculty review committee based on the originality of its research and potential for high impact, as well as the contribution made to the scientific community.
He was recently recognized at the Department of Computer Science virtual awards banquet on April 30.
"Navigating graduate school can be difficult but what makes it easier is having a great advisor, committee, and support system," said Zilevu. "Research and classes can get challenging but what helps me tremendously is having a strong support system around me that keeps me motivated and reminds me of why I am pursuing this degree."
Zilevu's advisor, Aisling Kelliher, associate professor of computer science, has played a pivotal role in his graduate experience at Virginia Tech. Through the New Horizons Graduate Scholars program, Zilevu was paired with Kelliher to work in the Interactive Neurorehabilitation Lab that she co-leads. He continues to flourish in the program, which he has been a part of for the last three years. In this role, he serves as a mentor for undergraduate students in the lab.
"From mentorship opportunities, travel grants, speaking engagements, and the various opportunities to attend seminars and network events at Virginia Tech, the New Horizons Graduate Scholars program has been tremendous," shared Zilevu. "It has been great being a part of the recruitment process in reaching out to undergraduate students to pursue a degree at Virginia Tech."