2020-01-01: Himarsha Jayanetti (Computer Science Master’s Student)

My name is Himarsha Jayanetti. I am an international student from Sri Lanka. I joined Old Dominion University as a Master’s student in Fall 2019 under the supervision of Dr. Michele Weigle. My current research project involves observing access patterns of robots vs. humans in Internet Archive and studying whether the patterns prevalent in the Internet Archive are present across other web archives. My collaborator, Kritika Garg, and I are working on this project by extending prior research by WS-DL alumna Dr. Yasmin AlNoamany
My intrinsic strength has always been my quantitative and analytical potential, embedded with a special passion for mathematics from my early schooling days. This in turn made me choose mathematics, physics, and chemistry at my high school. An exceptional result in the advanced level examinations in Sri Lanka helped me get the Nehru Memorial Scholarship offered by the Ministry of External Affairs of India. Under this scholarship, I started my undergraduate studies in Computer Engineering at Gujarat Technological University, India in 2013. In addition to academic performance, the extracurricular activities I had done during the period of my schooling played a significant role in making myself outstanding at the selection of the students for the scholarship.
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from Gujarat Technological University, India in 2017. During my Bachelor's degree work, my main area of focus was on computer networking and network security. As I was highly fascinated by the subject, I followed a certification course (Cisco Certified Network Associates) in networking in my leisure time, as I realized it covers a vast area of this particular subject. Furthermore, during summer vacation, I was offered an internship at the Department of National Archives, Sri Lanka for two months (June 2016 - August 2016). During this training, I was exposed to the implementation of desktop application development, web design, networking, and hardware engineering.
Pertaining to the degree, I had completed the final year project which was a website for the International students in Gujarat. As I was among the first batch to get an admission in any university in Gujarat as an international student, the exposure we had was very limited at that time. Through a survey, we got to know that the main reason was the lack of information and communication among the international students. The Regional Officer of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Mr. Shri Jigar Inamder, personally formed a group of elite Computer Science students to create a website for the international students in Gujarat. I, along with four other fellow students from different countries, designed and implemented this website. Our project was highly recognized by the college and the website iccrgisc.com (Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Gujarat International Students’ Cell) was launched at the certificate awarding ceremony on March 31, 2017.

Development team of iccrgisc.com - During the website launch
at the certificate awarding ceremony 
This brought a lot of appreciation from the student body as well as the officials present at the venue. Unfortunately, it is no longer available on the web proving that not only implementation and initial hosting, but maintenance and continuation are equally important in hosting a website. This website was available on the web for over a year but, there is no archived copy available across different web archiving sites. This, in fact, is a good instance which implies that not everything is indeed archived. Finally, with this project and continuous hard work and commitment, I completed my degree in 2017 with a First Class Distinction.

A screen capture of the website home page - During the website launch at the certificate awarding ceremony 

Soon after I returned to my country at the completion of my Bachelor’s degree, I was selected to work as a Network Engineer at Exetel Private Ltd affiliated to Australia (July 2017 - July 2019). I was involved in basic networking, problem-solving, and technical support as a Network Engineer. Also, I was able to acquire IESL (Institute of Engineers Sri Lanka) membership in the year 2019, which is the apex body for professional engineers in Sri Lanka.

During my first semester as a graduate student, I took three courses:
Upon completion of the data visualization course, I have learned the theory and application of data visualization along with R language, data analysis techniques, and several visualization tools such as Tableau and Vega-Lite. The web server design class was focused on understanding the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and the implementation of a web server. I have built a web server from scratch using the Python programming language. This indeed was the most challenging course I took in the Fall semester but through this course I have learned more than I could have ever imagined in a single semester. During the web programming course, I built a search engine using Elasticsearch with the help of programming languages like HTML, CSS, and LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). 
Moreover, I was thrilled to become a part of the WS-DL (Web Science and Digital Libraries Research Group) as a research assistant starting this Fall. Even though the thought of joining a research group was overwhelming, the hospitality provided by the faculty and colleagues of the group was impeccable. A few things I noticed during the first semester working in this group are that they will go all the way to make sure that we are very well understood about a certain topic through discussion and explanation, provide continuous feedback on performance and most of all provide a fun work environment. The most recent event that caught everyone's attention was the Trick-or-Research event on Halloween organized by the Computer Science Department. 
Ten different research groups from the department participated in this event. WS-DL also participated in the event where we gave out candy to visiting undergraduate/first-year graduate students, and demo our research. Halloween passports (maps included) were provided to the students and they were encouraged to visit different labs in the Computer Science department. Students could get their passports stamped when they visit a lab, and all students who visited at least 5 labs were eligible to win some prizes. This was an amazing opportunity for students to network with Computer Science faculty, find opportunities to join a lab to do some awesome research, and become a paid Research Assistant. My colleague, Kritika Garg, and I also showcased our current research work at the event (Slides). During the first couple of months into the WS-DL group, Dr. Michael L. Nelson gave an overview presentation about WS-DL's approach to scholarly communication. The presentation was about but not limited to journals, conferences, blogs, and tweets (Slides). I would say that no better place encourages not only timely but also high-quality work than the WS-DL research group. I am really glad to be a part of this group and determined to contribute to the group in all my abilities.

-- Himarsha Jayanetti --