Dr. Sharif Gets Additional Funding Through NSF Grant

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Dr. Bonita Sharif, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems at Youngstown State University, has recently been awarded a Community Research Infrastructure grant from the National Science Foundation.

This project grant, totaling $527,806 over three years ($237,196 to YSU and $290,610 to KSU), began in June 2017 and is expected to finish in June 2020. This project relates closely to Dr. Sharif’s CAREER award research on eye-tracking from last year and is in collaboration with a team at Kent State University.

“The purpose of the award is to build infrastructure to help support incorporating eye tracking within the developer’s work environment,” said Dr. Sharif.

Basically, Dr. Sharif and her team are creating an extension for integrated development environments (the platforms developers use for coding) that will allow developers to track their eye movement within the platform. They will be able to replay the eye tracking data to learn from how they look at code.

Dr. Sharif says that this software and research is important because it will help developers’ self-awareness (to learn from their own work and become more efficient) and because it will help educators teach students better. It will also help researchers to conduct large-scale studies in the industry with minimal effort.

“We can show novices how experts fix bugs by what they look at first,” said Dr. Sharif.

It is her goal to release a beta version of the software by the end of the first year and to involve other researchers in beta testing and technical briefing sessions.

“At this point, many researchers have seen a demo of our system,” she said, “but really it’s still just a prototype. We want to make it to a point where it is production ready and people can just download it, install it, and use it. I believe the joint effort with Kent State will be great in moving this forward.”

The full project title is “CI-New: Collaborative Research: An Infrastructure that Combines Eye Tracking into Integrated Development Environments to Study Software Development and Program Comprehension.”

The students involved are undergraduates Ashwin Mishra, Alexander Bonnette, Nicholas Iovino, Chris Hardaway, and graduate student Sahaj Bhattarai.

View the abstract for the project and the full details of the award here.