Wrapping Up 2018

Dec 30, 2018 | 9 minutes read
Share this:

This post is going to be a culmination of both my research update for December along with one of those “things that happened this year” posts. I’m going to cover a wide array of things because grad school is only one aspect of my life. It’s going to be a long post, so sit tight. Time to start out with that research update.

December Research Update

To be honest, I don’t have that much to report. I did wrap up all the interviews for my research. I also had a good convo with my advisor about how I will create my apps. My advisor is all about getting done by May(and I am on that same train) but also creating an app that can be easily accessible, whether it’s on your computer or mobile phone(regardless of operating system). So changes have been made and I’m not saying anything else right now about that. 😎

You can forget about manuscript #2 being done by the end of the year. The day after I finished my final interview, I went to Japan and South Korea for two weeks and while I lived it up, I got tore up as well. I was too busy having fun on the trip to do work and when I got back, I got destroyed by jet lag and allergies. Because of that, I’m just going to have to say mid-February at the latest.

I also booked my ticket to Texas so woot.

Stuff I did + Stuff that Happened

I’m going to have to divide this into sub sections. I suck about writing about these kind of things nor am I keen on doing it, but I know it needs to be done so you can plan out what to do the next year. So here it goes.

School and Research

Well first off, I applied for three grants/awards and I got rejected for two. I was feeling like I hit rock bottom after I got two rejections two days in a row, but then found out about a third award. I only had a few days to apply because the notice came out last minute, so I had a Project Runway Make it Work moment and got it done. I ended up winning that award which was the UGA Dean’s Award. It really has helped me out in getting the research done. Also, the kindness of people(colleagues, old friends, new friends, family members, etc) has helped me get my research done. It truly takes a village to get things done and I wouldn’t have gotten as much done without the kindness of others.

I finished my comprehensive exams and I seriously don’t know what to say anymore than that. I felt like I was Rocky Balboa doing a training montage when it came to preparing for it and I’m glad all those hours spent paid off. Yo, Adrian, I did it!

I(well actually my team) got a manuscript published in the Journal of Technology in Human Services which is about the project that I worked on with the Atlanta Community Food Bank when I was participating in Data Science for Social Good: Atlanta. I’m working on a couple more manuscripts to submit to other journals as well. I also finished a rough draft of the first manuscript for my dissertation. Two more to go.

I was also able to put into fruition the R course that I developed in my instructional design class. I guest lectured this course two times this year on how to collect tweets and map them. If you’re interested in those course materials, then here you go. I’m planning to put that into a Bookdown book next year.


I didn’t really go to many conferences this year due to recovering from the hot mess that was known as 2017 and changing my outlook on going to conferences(which is an overdue blog post). I’ll talk about the two that stood out for me this year.

Attending the rstudio::conf() was one of the highlights of 2018. I got one of those lovely diversity scholarships and I presented an e-poster on a project I did for Data Science for Social Good: Atlanta. I’m telling you, that is a FUN conference. I have a variety of interests(reality TV, animated series, MMA, etc) and I am not ashamed of such interests despite people being haters about it. At most conferences I’ve gone to, I don’t hear people talking about these interests in the more casual parts of the conference experience so I just felt I was an oddball because I love chatting with people about these things regardless of where I’m at. But I found my people at rstudio::conf(). When I attended Mara Averick’s talk which included Archer references and another talk by Giora Simchoni in which he did some data driven analysis on America’s Next Top Model and Rupaul’s Drag Race, I knew I found my people. Yes, I did learn a lot about R both in the sessions and on the training days(I went to an Intermediate Shiny workshop), but it is good to know that the R community is made up of people with shared interests other than R and it’s cool to see how they used R in order to explore their interests. Here are some examples:

Network Analysis of RuPaul’s Drag Race Contestants on Twitter by Giora Simchoni

Beyond the Tip: A Data-Driven Exploration of Archer by Mara Averick and Elijah Meeks

I also went to the ESRI Conference as a student assistant. This was an extremely valuable experience and allowed me to not only meet people with similar interests, but also get an up and close look at ESRI as an company, which was one purpose of the assistantship. It was pretty cool to hear that Dawn Wright, chief scientist of ESRI, also started out as a student assistant, and many people who currently work for ESRI starting out as student assistants. I also saw some famiilar faces at the conference and it was good to re-connect with them after not seeing them in person for years. I also saw Jack Dangermond in person and that was pretty cool. He dropped by to personally thank us student assistants which was icing on the cake!

In addition, this gave me the chance to meet other members of Women in GIS in person. I am currently serving on the Outreach Committee and we had a couple events. Once was a brown bag lunch and another event was a mixer. Both events were highly attended and the first one had so many people that the room was filled to capacity!


I completed a 100 Days of Code coding challenge. I did not consecutively code for 100 days, but I consistently coded for 100 days. During these 100 days, I was able to update a Shiny app and I created a personal website along with a showcase website with Blogdown. Verdict is out whether I will do this next year or a similar challenge. I do think these kind of challenges help improve your confidence and profiency in coding.

I also completed half of the Data Camp data scientist track.


In 2018, I travelled a LOT both domestically and internationally. Travel always make me a happy person. I went to Florida and went down to the Florida Keys, Everglades, and of course I had to go to Miami. I also went to San Diego twice this year, which was a treat. I also went to Austin as well. For international travel, I went to Mexico(Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta) for the first time and I went to Japan and South Korea. A trip to Japan was overdue. The last time I was there was 11 years ago so I’m happy I had the frequent flyer miles to pull it off. I was able to go back to the town I lived in when I studied abroad and that brought back a lot of good memories. A lot of the town did stay the same, but some things have changed, most notably the train station and a new shiny City Hall building. As for Korea, I’m happy my friend gave me a tip on a dirt cheap ticket. I used to teach English in Korea and I was able to meet up with old students, co-workers, and friends. I took a lot of pictures from all my trip which I plan on doing something with them next year other than have them live on my Instagram.

I also decided to be consistent in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu(BJJ). Like coding, you have to be consistent in doing it in order to get better, and I guess I am getting better. Stuff is finally starting to stick in my brain. I decided to compete in two tournaments and I placed in both of them. I won silver for gi and no-gi in one tournament and I won gold for gi and bronze for no-gi in the last tournament I participated in. I love my gym and I feel that BJJ kept me grounded this year. I also participated in one women’s BJJ seminar. Both the touraments and seminars gave me the chance to meet other women who do BJJ. I am lucky to have two other women in my gym, but overall the number of women participating in BJJ is low(even though the number is increasing). Tournaments and seminars are the only chances in which many of us(especially those who are blue belt and above which I am not but the two other women in my gym are) can train with other women. Other than keeping me grounded, BJJ gives me a good workout, and allows me to work on my ground game(I have more experience with stand up martial arts) so you can count me doing BJJ as long as I can.

I volunteered almost every Thursday at the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia with an group I am a part of called Serving Hearts and Diversity. We also volunteered at the International Street Festival and at an open house for a local mosque in the area. Our organization recently received membership in ServeUGA which is dedicated to promoting a culture of service at UGA. This membership status allows us to receive support from the university which allows us to further our organization’s mission which is to serve the local community by mobilizing a united platform of diverse students from all experiences. If you’re at UGA and are interested, hit me up. We always are in need for volunteers and the amount of committment is up to you! 😁

Well that’s 2018 in a nutshell. Now that I got that done, it’s time to do one of those “New Year’s Resolutions + Affirmations” post. But not today.

comments powered by Disqus