Hiram College

Computer science major Rachael Purta ’12 conducted research this summer, part of which will be presented at the 2011 Workshop on Interactive Systems for Health Care (WISH 2011) in Washington, D.C., this Saturday, Oct. 22.

Purta participated in the Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates (DREU) program for 10 weeks over the summer, which aims to increase the number of women and underrepresented groups entering graduate studies in computer science and engineering. Through the program, she was partnered with Erica Poole, assistant professor of computer science, at Penn State University.

There, Purta, Poole and another student in the program began the research “Dogs Walking People: A Sensing and Feedback System for Increasing Participation in Dog Walking.” The research involved a database-driven website which encourages dog owners to enter exercise data about their dog, to, in effect, improve their own well-being.

“You’re using the dog as an exercise partner,” Purta said. “You’re wanting to make your dog healthier – and that makes you healthier, by exercising the dog.”

Purta was involved in completing initial research, recruiting participants and building the website’s database. She said was able to use her knowledge from the Database Design course she took at Hiram in Spring 2011.

She also co-authored a paper examining the results at the two-week point of the study. The study went on longer than the 10-week DREU program, so Poole and a Penn State graduate student wrote the final paper and incorporated Purta’s work.

Purta was invited, but unable to attend the conference this weekend. Her name is listed as one of four authors. Learn more about the Workshop on Interactive Systems for Health Care.