How did you choose UChicago for your PhD program?

Several factors: 1) Prof. Aaron Elmore’s research interests align with the research I want to pursue. 2) UChicago CS is rapidly growing. 3) UChicago is the most prestigious University in the world.

What was your overall experience like here?

Awesome! I am well supported by the UChicago CS department with outstanding academic guidance and logistical assistance.

What person, course, or experience most influenced your time at UChicago? How?

Three professors have played key roles in my time at UChicago. The first is my advisor, Aaron J. Elmore. He is open-minded about the research ideas I propose and helps me evolve these ideas into a broader research framework. He places confidence in his students while ensuring the research is on the right track. He is also a very nice and patient person. He is always willing to explain the things that I feel confused about, doing so without imposing any pressure on me. Doing a Ph.D. is inevitably hard. I am so thankful for his support.

Professors Sanjay Krishnan and Michael Franklin are instrumental in my thesis project. Serving on my thesis committee and as co-authors of several of my papers, they each bring distinct strengths to the table. Sanjay excels in defining research problems and technical contributions, effectively distinguishing our work from prior studies. Meanwhile, Mike has a remarkable talent for presenting the broader picture; he succinctly formulated the topic of my PhD thesis in just one sentence.

What did you work on with your advisor?

We worked on two projects. The first is Adaptive Concurrency Control, the first research work that applies a machine-learning model to adaptively choose a concurrency control protocol for varied workloads. The second is CrocodileDB, which is also my thesis topic. CrocodileDB is a resource-efficient database. It leverages intelligent algorithms to minimize resource consumption while meeting the performance goal that is specified by users.

What opportunities did you have at UChicago that you particularly enjoyed?

UChicago CS has a strong database group, ChiData, which I am part of. I find the wide range of expertise and the dynamic environment within this group both educational and enjoyable. It’s a place where I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and have had a great deal of fun. 

What do you think sets UChicago’s Department of Computer Science apart from others?

UChicago CS is strong in many aspects: world-leading professors in a variety of research areas, a cohort of intelligent students, and outstanding administrative support etc. One aspect that I find particularly distinctive is the active participation of Ph.D. students in the administration of the CS department through the town hall meetings and many other measures.

Who is your current employer and what do you do?

I’m an Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Austin.

What has your career path been like? How did you end up where you are?

After graduating from UChicago in 2020, I worked as a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley between 2021 and 2024. I started working at UT Austin in Jan. 2024.

What are some of the things you like about your job?

Being a professor provides me the opportunity to contemplate significant research problems and devote substantial time to them. Additionally, collaborating with students is immensely enjoyable. Their intelligence and the novel ideas that they propose are truly refreshing. Engaging with such creative individuals is an enriching experience.

How did your professors and advisor prepare you for your current job?

I was well supported by Aaron, my advisor, and the whole ChiData group. Aaron spent hours helping me shape my job talk. I gave a practice talk in the ChiData group, where I got a lot of valuable feedback.

What are some skills you learned during your PhD program that prepared you for your career as an assistant professor?

1) The communication skills in articulating the high-level ideas of my research with clarity; 2) The ability to maintain a big research picture; 3) The skill in fostering collaboration and being an effective and supportive colleague.

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date?

Five first-author publications in VLDB/SIGMOD, the two top database conferences, and serving as a program committee member of SIGMOD (2022, 2023, 2025) and VLDB (2025). 

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