I just started my M.S. in CS program. Well actually I am taking som pre-reqs because my undergrad was in a different field, so I haven't actually started the M.S. program yet. But I have already (pretty much) decided that I want to eventually pursue my PhD. What I am deciding now is what I want to...I guess specialize in (is that the way to put it)? What I want to focus my research efforts on.
A couple of things I am interested in are:
- Something involving manned/unmanned space exploration (writing guidance/navigation systems for the next Mars rover, etc).
- Using Computer Science to find cures for diseases (folding @ home).
- Computer models of climate change, as I am very much a "Global Warming is real and needs to be dealt with yesterday" kind of guy.
But this questions isn't "what should I do research in" but more of "how can I decide what I should do research in."
I know a lot of people will counter with "if you don't know what you want to research then you shouldn't be considering getting a PhD", but I don't believe in that line of reasoning. I know I want to do research. I know I want to be involved with something that expands the boundaries of Computer Sciences as we know it. Just because I am not exactly sure what avenue I should go down in doing so, doesn't in any way change how much I know that I do want to do it.
So my question is, where to start with figuring out what I should eventually specialize in? What are my theoretical options? Where can I see if "getting my PhD to write software to guide probes to Jupiter" is even a viable option? Must I choose a area that is currently being researched at the university I attend, or am I free to come up with my own? Can/should I be reading recently released papers on Computer Science topics for some inspiration, and if so where do I go to find those?