Photo: Jason Dorfman, CSAIL photographer
Where did you grow up: Grew up in Phoenix, AZ. See below for more details.
What was your academic path before coming to grad school at MIT? Attended grade and high school in Phoenix, AZ. Received undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College.
What department are you currently working in, and when did you start there? I joined in the Fall of 2001 and am in EECS/CSAIL (specifically, the computer vision group).
What are you working on and why are you passionate about it? My interests are in computer vision. I am working on object recognition, specifically on unsupervised visual topic discovery (what can you recognize given lots of images and no human supervision?). One of the fundamental reasons I am passionate about this is as a child, I hated doing chores and often daydreamed of having a robot do my chores for me (so I could play outside). One of the key components of the robot is the ability to see and recognize objects, say dishes and a drying towel. I am excited to have the privilege of working on a task that humans can do well and computers cannot yet do, and to work towards my childhood dream.
What are your future plans? I want to keep working on cool problems and with people who are passionate about what they do.
Is there anything else you'd like to share? I am Native American (Hopi and Pima, based in AZ) and am part of the first generation to grow up entirely outside of the reservation. Both of my parents are not college educated (I found that this is rare among students at MIT). To give you a better idea of where I am coming from, my father attended the high school that is featured in this Wired article (I almost attended the high school mentioned in this story (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.04/robot.html) since my family lived in the general vicinity). I would like to convey that with lots of luck and hard work, attending MIT is possible.