Photo Essay: My Spring 2024 Semester at CDS

Hi there! My name is Isabella Boncser, and I'm currently a sophomore in the six-year Accelerated BS/DPT program in Boston University's Sargent College (2026/2028). In addition to my academic pursuits, I have a passion for photography, and am currently the CDS student event photographer. I love capturing student life within CDS, whether that be taking pictures of students studying in the building on a rainy day, attending 24-hour civic tech hackathon on the 17th floor, or a faculty and staff appreciation event. Over this past semester, I had the honor of working with the CDS communications team, led by Maureen McCarthy, director, and Alessandra Augusto, events & communications manager.

I was asked to highlight some of my best and brightest work from the semester. The following images were captured this spring, and are some of my favorite images. They showcase the versatility of student life within CDS and BU Spark!

BU Spark! hosted a Tech For Change Civic Tech Hackathon, where students spent 24 hours at BU to developed a new project with teamwork and technical skills at the forefront. I had the opportunity to meet students from 19 different schools, all of whom spent (literally) day and night on the 17th floor of the Center for Computing & Data Sciences working together and using their hacking skills to create a difference in the world. Pictured here are two students celebrating after discussing their individual projects and asking for some advice regarding their presentations.

CDS serves as home for a variety of people and their furry friends! This image shows Miss Belle, the beautiful English Setter (who loves birds) who shares office space with her owner, Chris DeVits, CDS Director of Administration.

The Center for Computing & Data Sciences truly has a place for everyone at BU. The main level has become the campus living room, where students can meet to chat over coffee, or catch up on emails on the staircase. On a rainy day, students can find a "cozy corner" and focus on their work in a relaxing environment. This is a glimpse of the "sit steps" - the large staircase with over two dozen conversation spaces that has become popular for students to relax and get some work done between classes.

You may have heard people refer to the Center for Computing & Data Sciences as the "Jenga Building" because of its Jenga-like architecture. The building, which is home to the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences, the Departments of Mathematics & Statistics and Computer Sciences, and the renowned Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computation Science & Engineering, embraces its beautiful yet fun architecture while focusing on community! Next time you are craving a fun study break, join the CDS Events Team for a night of Jenga and try some delicious popcorn!

Driving down Commonwealth Avenue, the building stands out amongst its peers and shines bright along the Boston city skyline. Illuminating the streets during dusk, the building is one of my favorites the photograph. The 17th floor is home to many events hosted by CDS faculty and staff, as well as the general BU community.

The students pictured had been working tirelessly on their TFC Civic Tech Hackathon project. This photo exemplifies teamwork, collaboration, and partnership. Although students were working on their projects for 24 hours on the 17th floor of CDS, they were all smiles for the camera during final presentations!

Yoga at the Top of BU has become a staple for students to come and enjoy a one-hour yoga session. The class is open to all students across BU, and is a great way to take a study break and get your body moving. If you are a zen master, or have never taken a yoga class before, come join us for the next session!

The BU Spark! team gathered for a group picture during the Civic Tech Hackathon which took place on the 17th floor in February. Over the Spring 2024 semester, I've had the pleasure of getting to know the ambassadors from each track, and their passion for their work within the BU community is truly inspiring. BU Spark! hosts numerous events, talks, and community-building programs like Cookie O'clock, town halls, and much more. Visit the BU Spark! space on the second floor to learn more about their involvement on campus!

Computational Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences (CHASS) hosted a variety of tutorials ranging from "An Analysis on Emerson's Work" to large language model discussions throughout the Spring 2024 semester. These sessions are a great way to learn about the data science industry and how your skills will be used in the real world. Check out the CHASS video tutorial library on YouTube.

I am heading to Dublin, Ireland to live and study abroad for the Fall 2024 semester! I am so thankful to Maureen McCarthy who gave me the opportunity to work with and celebrate the CDS community. I would also like to shoutout Sebastian Bak (QST'25) who recommended the position to me, and spoke so highly of the CDS community!