Photo: Jason Dorfman, CSAIL photographer
Where did you grow up: My family moved about every 2 years but I spent most of my time near Seattle.
What was your academic path before coming to grad school at MIT? I obtained a bachelors in computer engineering and physics at the University of Washington. I started studying computer engineering on a whim: I figured it was something I should try to learn a bit about. I loved my first class and just decided to keep taking computer science classes until it stopped being fun. Three years later I had a degree in it.
What department are you currently working in, and when did you start there? joined computer science (area 2) of EECS in Fall 2000. After my first year I left for 2 years to go study neuroscience at Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship. I returned after that to complete my PhD.
What are you working on and why are you passionate about it? My most recent research has been assisting with a group research project to make a small quadruped robot walk across rough terrain. Legged robots have the potential to go many places that are tough to impossible for wheeled robots, and therefore have important applications in search and rescue, exploration and home assistant robotics. It's been exciting to work closely in a group to accomplish this goal.
What are your future plans? I'm interested in an academic career where I would have the opportunity to conduct research and teach students. I'm also interested in careers which look at the role computer science and information technology can play in aiding development and reducing poverty. One great thing about MIT is that in addition to their excellent engineering research, they also are strong supporters of public service, and give interested students the chance to apply their knowledge and skills to real world problems across the globe. I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on several such projects on the side.
Is there anything else you'd like to share? I continue to be impressed and excited by the range of careers which people with computer science backgrounds can enter. There's the traditional computer science companies, industrial and governmental research labs and academia. But there's also tons of opportunities in biology, banking, and management consulting, to name just a few. Computer science provides people with a large array of strong quantitative and problem solving skills that can be used in a wide array of fields.