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GSS president Caroline Miner likes to play an active role

Caroline S. Miner taught high school for three years, but her love of Shakespeare and her desire to teach theater at a higher level eventually led her to UConn. Now Miner is pursuing a doctorate in the psychology of language. She also is president of the Graduate Student Senate (GSS).

"It is easy to become engrossed in my research and be isolated from my surroundings," she says. "However, I like to have some control over what is happening around me and being involved allows me to play an active role."

Miner has been active in the GSS since 1995 - first as a representative, then as vice president, and now as president.

She says her primary goal as GSS president is to increase the percentage of graduate students who are funded by the University. To that end, she led a GSS initiative to convert student labor positions into graduate assistantships. Another goal she has is to encourage the University to formalize plans to build new graduate student residence halls.

She also is trying to improve communication between graduate students and the administration. She feels that she has been somewhat successful in increasing graduate student knowledge about the University, but she encourages all graduate students to become more involved in the GSS.

Miner wears many hats at UConn. She is currently a member of the facilities and master plan advisory committee; the trustees, administrators, faculty and students committee; the communication strategic planning committee; and the parking advisory committee. She also was a member of the search committee for the vice provost for undergraduate education and instruction this year.

"I like the role I play. The University is undergoing unprecedented change, and I have an opportunity to have an impact on the implementation of that change," she says. "In general, I find that the UConn administrators, at all levels, are very receptive to student input."

Miner, who was born in Missouri and brought up in Texas, graduated from the University of Texas in 1986 with an English degree and taught English for three years in Texas. She left her teaching position to earn a master's degree in English from the University of Missouri.

Fascinated by the idea of figuring out how the mind works and building intelligence, she decided to study for a bachelor's degree in psychology from Missouri before coming here in 1993 to pursue her doctoral degree.

"I was attracted to the University because the psychology department is highly ranked, and the language division is affiliated with Haskins Laboratories, a research facility devoted to the study of language," she says.

After serving as a teaching assistant in the psychology department for two years, Miner is now a research assistant for Haskins Laboratories.

Her own research is on how we perceive spoken and written language. She is developing a model of the brain, or neural network, designed to simulate the early stages of speech recognition. She says this type of network has the potential to serve as the basis for a new approach to mechanized speech recognition that would be more effective than current models for office products, such as those that type as you speak, or translation systems for the deaf.

In addition to her activities at the University, Miner is an elected representative to the American Psychological Association. She is the research and academic focus member for the graduate student committee, and acts as a student advocate on issues related to psychological science.

Usha R. Palaniswamy

This is one of a series on UConn's student leaders.