NSF Funds Prof’s Eye-Tracking Research

Title Image Eye Tracking StoryComputer Science Professor Bonita Sharif

Computer Science Professor Bonita Sharif is the first faculty member in YSU history to win the National Science Foundation’s highly competitive CAREER Award for Early Career Development.

Sharif, an associate professor of Computer Science and Information Systems who joined YSU’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in 2011, was awarded a five-year, $416,000 federal research grant. The grant is considered the NSF’s most prestigious honor for junior faculty nationwide.

"This national recognition speaks to Dr. Sharif’s expertise and her growing prominence in her field," Provost Martin Abraham said. "It's also another indicator of YSU's rising reputation as an emerging research institution.”

"This national recognition speaks to Dr. Sharif’s expertise and her growing prominence in her field," Provost Martin Abraham said. "It's also another indicator of YSU's rising reputation as an emerging research institution with vibrant, talented faculty who benefit our students, their disciplines and our community."

Kriss Schueller, professor and chair of CSIS, said Sharif’s accomplishment reflects positively on the department and the university as a whole. “I am extremely proud of Bonita’s work,” he said. “She is building an excellent reputation in the community, and this award is a clear, national verification that valuable research is going on in CSIS.”

Sharif’s research is focused on the use of eye-tracking technology to understand software development that could help build better tools for developers. Grant dollars will purchase the latest in eye-tracking equipment, will pay students assisting with the project and will fund a K-12 school outreach program.

Quote from Bonita Sharif:   Eye tracking has been around a long time ... but we’re using it in new ways to help software engineers solve problems.   “Eye tracking has been around a long time,” she said, explaining how the technology assists people with disabilities in reading and communications. “But we’re using it in new ways to help software engineers solve problems. Only a handful of people in the world are doing this, but we’re hoping to change that.”

Sharif believes the NSF liked her application because she provided plenty of
research evidence to show that eye tracking can help improve the software development process. “We did a lot of groundwork to demonstrate that our ideas
are feasible,” she said.

A native of India, Sharif earned an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Cyprus College on the island of Cyprus, where she also met her husband, a native of Bangladesh. Together, they came to Ohio to study at Kent State University, where she earned a master’s and PhD, also in Computer Science. She taught as a graduate assistant at KSU and spent a year as an adjunct faculty member at Ohio University before coming to YSU.