Pragya Katyayan

Doctoral Researcher in Computer Science at Banasthali Vidyapith

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STEM has the potential of changing lives with a visible effect.

What do you do?

My job, in one word, is 'research'. To explain it in a easy, simple and better way, I would like to put it like this- I study about existing techniques of working with computers and try to use (or invent) new techniques that can be used to make them much more efficient. This is much more challenging than it sounds, but its fun to try everyday and come up with something out-of-the-box. It keeps juggling my brain and is ultimately very satisfactory, because the positive results have the power of benefitting the world.

Why did you choose this field?

Computers fascinated me since childhood. My father introduced me to a computer system and taught me basic skills and software. Later he also made me join several computer workshops, crash courses every year in the summer vacations. As soon as I started understanding how to work with computers, my hunger to learn even more, grew. As a result, I pursued my graduation with an Honors in Computer Science followed by an MBA. My love for computers didn't end there. The very first job I joined was of a school teacher to teach Computer Sciences with Python to CBSE class XI and XII students. It was a great experience to learn while I taught. Meanwhile, I got a golden opportunity to work on a year long project with Microsoft Inc., Hyderabad. This brief yet very important experience proved as a turning point in my life, as I got introduced to research, data science, natural language processing and artificial intelligence in a very raw form. This kindled the researcher in me and with the determination of learning more and more about these fascinating terms, I pursued an M.Sc. in Computer Science and currently I am enrolled in Ph.D. Computer Science with specializations in natural language processing, quantum computing and machine learning.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I really wish I would have known the importance, adventures and fun of being in research when I was young. I guess I would have started a research oriented career much sooner.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I really love working in a challenging environment. As it is rightly said, 'the path of least resistance will never make you proud'. The exponential growth of STEM everyday makes it very very challenging and I wake up every morning looking forward to the next challenge I'm gonna encounter in my research work and how I will conquer it with my knowledge and hard work.

Best advice for next generation?

STEM has the potential of changing lives with a visible effect. Everybody round the globe is affected by technology in some way or the other each day, be it at work, at home or while picking up coffee from the nearby store. Girls in STEM, hence, get an opportunity to directly reach so many people with extra-ordinary work. I feel it is equally important to see your work's significance in the real world. If you can work towards helping human-kind actually live an easy life in future, I think there's nothing more satisfying and rewarding than that. STEM gives you that platform.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"All birds find shelter when it rains, but Eagle avoids the rain by flying above the clouds." - Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

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