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Getting to know Brandeis Marshall

January 7, 2011

Brandeis Marshall, assistant professor of computer and information technology, has been at Purdue since January of 2007. She joined the faculty of the College of Technology after about 18 months at Purdue’s CyberCenter. Marshall earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

What I teach: I teach data management, advanced database systems and information retrieval. I’ve developed a course on information retrieval for undergraduates and graduates; it’s called Data Integration on the Web. We go through the Google page ranks, which is a difficult topic. It is best to infuse current technologies and topics. I want to make sure my students have an awareness of the power of the web and what new technologies are out there. They need an understanding of the world outside of Purdue. We cover a lot of concepts. I talk about iPad, iPhone, how they compare to Blackberry. Google has not done it all. And Facebook hasn’t done the other half. I talk about old-school web and new-school web. I let students know the trajectory of technology. My first lecture is on the history of web search engines. They popped up at universities from undergraduate and graduate students. That let’s our students know that this is something relevant and current. It does take a younger generation to move technology forward. We also talk about the money-making components. Everything you do on the Web is being stored and archived. You’re being used.

How I stay current: Every day, I visit CNN Tech. I look at what’s going on and visit other geek sites; I’m always interested in learning. That’s how I pick topics. We talk about the good and the bad. Students, themselves, are current with certain aspects. And they learn something about the business of the web.

Why databases are important: Every company needs some type of information technology to deal with data. We order and pay online. How do you keep all those records? All information is stored in a series of databases to keep checks and to keep that data. You have to be able to secure your data. It’s crucial. You need to keep track of privacy requests, access controls. You have to know how to design it, browse it. Everyone has to deal with it.

My research: Data management deals with raw data. Knowledge management deals with what information you can glean from the data. So when you are flying somewhere, you have different bar codes for your flight, luggage, your ID; there’s a big paper trail. All of this information is disjointed. I’m looking at how to put that into one ball, your own personal cloud. It is a difficult and challenging problem. I’m also looking at other areas of research that are underserved. I’m working on an academic search engine for academic research areas. There are several online portals, but my biggest issue is how to find relevant papers. I’ve had a couple of papers published about how to merge the results.

Outside of work: I spend time on my other passions, one of which happens to be music. My mother shoved me into ballet when I was four. I like different types of music from all over the world: Indian pop, alternative, R&B. I love to knit – I do it while I watch TV. I knitted 4-5 blankets as gifts. I’m an action flick girl. I love to cook and bake. This was the third year I hosted thanksgiving. I love traveling. My husband and I travel once a year together, usually international, to a place I’ve had a paper accepted. We’ve been to Athens and Venice. I am also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

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