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Lara Schenck | Lover of programming, maker of monsters
Three illustrated monsters peeking from the corners of the image looking at a photo of a white woman with brown hair drinking a cocktail. The photo is in a frame and the monster on the right is thinking, "Who's that?"

Hello! My name is Lara.

I am a PhD student in the Human-Centered Computing program at Georgia Tech where I will work with the DataWorks team and Dr. Betsy DiSalvo. My research is broadening pathways to computing careers for adults; you can see my evolving research direction here and keep an eye out for research-related writing on my blog.

Before changing careers to research, I worked as a software developer for about 10 years after getting my undergraduate degree in studio art. Outside of my work, I learn the Nepali language, semi-maintain an art practice, roast my own coffee, read, and run and bike outside.

On this website, I chronicle my career trajectory and share the things I make and learn.

At this point, I have well over 10 years of content!

As well as publishing periodic blog posts about things I’m working on or thinking about, I chronicle my current focus on my Now page, I log miscellaneous thoughts and musings on my Updates and Think-Alouds page, I chronicle my evolving career/research direction on my Compass page, and I keep a timeline of my career on my About page. Oh, and be sure to check out the Monsters.

Recent Updates

April 17, 2024 – I have officially passed my PhD qualifying exam!

January, 2024 – Submitted a paper to CSCW! Haven’t kept up with these updates…currently focusing on my qualifying exam and gearing up for v3 of Career Dev with DataWorks.

June 8, 2023 – My poster and lightning talk, “From Data Work to Data Science: Getting Past the Gatekeepers”, was accepted to ICER 2023!

April 1, 2023 – I was selected for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!

March 23, 2023 – I submitted a journal article! Can’t say more about it yet, but need to write about it here, too.

August, 2023 – Moved to Atlanta and started a PhD!

Recent Blog Posts

  • What is Middle-Skill Computing Work?
    Middle-skill computing work is an emerging theme in my research to describe the kinds of work and jobs in computing that are not always considered “computing jobs”. Doing this work doesn’t require theoretical CS knowledge, and the jobs tend to be in $40-100k USD salary range. I think “middle-skill computing work” has significant promise for increasing access to computing careers, and I’d love to talk with more people about this idea.
  • Updates and Think-Alouds: Aug. 16 ’22 – Aug. 19 ’23
    A whole year of notes from the, um, “Updates” page on my website, where I haphazardly write as I feel inspired to do so. This update includes notes about language learning, research updates, and think-alouds as I figure out academia.
  • From Data Work to Data Science: Getting Past the Gatekeepers (ICER 2023)
    This post outlines my lightning talk and poster for the 2023 International Computing Education Research conference. It’s a nice update regarding where my research is headed and what I’m working on lately.

Greatest Hits

From 2015-2021, I was active in the CSS and front-end communities, writing blog posts and speaking about CSS all over the world. What I learned during these years set me on my path to research, and I developed a following based on my conference speaking and writing on this blog. Here are some “greatest hits” from this period.

  • Is CSS Turing Complete?
    I took a deep dive into this question, and the answer is: kinda, mostly, yeah! CSS + HTML + user input is Turing complete. Is it possible to remove the user input part? Then I can re-title this post to be more, ahem, declarative.
  • Writing CSS Algorithms
    The methods for white-boarding algorithm questions serve us quite well when writing CSS algorithms. This post is a written portion of the second half of version 1 of the Algorithms of CSS.
  • CSS is a Declarative, Domain-Specific Programming Language
    Over the past year, I’ve been giving a talk called The Algorithms of CSS, originally created for CSSConf EU. This post covers the first part of my presentation, and breaks down how CSS fits into the categories of programming languages.

Thanks for reading!

Really, I put a lot of effort into my website, and it is forever in-progress. I work on it with the hope that others will read my content and find something interesting, inspiring, or worthy of a smile.

I do not allow comments on this site, but I am interested in what you think about my work, and I love to meet new people. Feel free to email me at lara notlaura dot com with any questions or comments.