When you were a child, what was your response to this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I really wanted to be a veterinarian and did everything possible to become one. A family friend was a vet at the time, and after relentlessly bothering my family about it, they finally convinced him to let me shadow him for a day. Fun fact: I neutered a cat at the age of 10.
RESEARCH IN 5 WORDS:
“Artificial intelligence that reads, succeeds.”
Share the pivotal moment in your life that helped you choose your field of study.
During my early years of undergrad, I started doing research in a linguistics lab using my programming knowledge, but I was only minoring in computer science at the time and and I knew only one other girl doing the same. One day, while walking back from class, she said, “I think I’m going to switch my major to computer science. Will you do it with me?” And I agreed. Once I took on computer science as a second major, I realized that studying language through the lens of computer science was what I wanted to do with my life. But I would never have realized this — even though it is so obvious to me now — if I hadn’t seen someone like me want to pursue computer science.
Tell us about a time you encountered a tricky problem. How did you handle it and what did you learn from it?
The summer after junior year, I suffered a severe sports injury to my leg — and after nine months of crutches my injury had not improved. I had a choice: continue into my senior year of college with no guarantee of healing, or take a semester of medical leave at the expense of extending my undergraduate career by a semester. I chose the latter, and unknowingly made the best decision of my life. I not only allowed myself to finally heal, but also took a break from the stress of homework and exams to explore my actual academic interests. I put all my time and energy into remotely doing research. I was not only maintaining my work using natural language processing for a dysgraphia treatment study, but also exploring a new field via a machine learning project detecting mitochondria in brain scan images. I realized that I truly loved doing research and was ultimately inspired to pursue graduate school. After having this experience, I never underestimate the importance and necessity of self-care.
What are your passions outside of science?
I enjoy ballroom dancing, working out, and spending time with family and friends. It is important to take care of yourself and partake in activities outside of research to stay healthy and productive.