What do you do?
I do research in transportation tackling various different problems. My projects have ranged from creating a mobile app to provide greener travel suggestions to users to creating a high performance computing cluster of Raspberry Pis to simulate autonomous vehicles in cities. The work I do helps us prepare and learn about emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles and also better understand what individuals habits are within the world of transportation.
Why did you choose this field?
I never planned to go into transportation at all. During my undergrad I applied for a research assistant role which happened to be developing an eco routing app and since the RAs were immersed in the lab environment and got to hear about the work that the graduate students in the lab were doing I realized I was really interested in this kind of work. I was looking for an area related to computer science where I could primarily focus on the mathematical aspects of the given field instead of software engineering. Transportation was the perfect place for that especially as the field is growing and we are working towards better understanding how individuals make transportation mode choices, what are people willing to pay for certain services, and how can we use this data to be more environmentally friendly. The ability to apply math so heavily in this field also made me realize I want to pursue a Masters degree in transportation engineering and continue to develop my knowledge and skills.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
Being able to be a researcher at Cornell University. Even around a year ago I would have never even considered the possibility that I would be able to or even good enough to have such a role. Competing for positions like this as someone who doesn't attend that institution, let alone doesn't go to school in the United States makes it a lot harder to be considered for these kinds of positions. Without the years of research work I did previously during my undergrad I definitely would not have been a contender for this. I also have the incredibly supportive lab environment and guidance from senior lab members to thank for preparing me to do my best in this role.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love that there are a lot of open ended problems that each individual can take a unique approach to and still have meaningful results. There are no boring days because you aren't tackling the same problem in a cycle, there is always a new challenge ahead so it doesn't get boring. Computer Science as a field has grown so much over the years that you really get to choose what to specialize in and you can spend your whole career doing a deep dive on a certain area. The ability to have such a vast amount of choices can be overwhelming at times, but at the end of the day it lets a lot of great minds interact and come up with some great solutions that can have a lasting impact on the tech world.
Best advice for next generation?
Demand excellence of yourself. If you are putting your best foot forward every day and trying your best, you are going to succeed. There are so many opportunities in STEM that are just waiting for you, and there is nothing that you should see as "impossible to achieve".
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
With regard to excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have and use it. - Aristotle