Ph.D. Information and Computer Science, 2010
Why did you choose this degree?
While I have always been interested in the larger Computer Science field and how diverse it is, Software Engineering at UCI’s Bren School allowed for so much flexibility and applicability to a wide variety of problems.
What has been your career path since graduating with a Ph.D.?
Since graduating in 2010, I joined a Navy research laboratory in San Diego as a federal employee. In my current position, I serve as the Lead Researcher for the Cyber Security Division. In this role, I work on developing new cutting-edge ideas to secure our nation’s systems, networks, and infrastructures.
What do you enjoy most about your current position?
While what I do everyday is truly fun, I very much enjoy knowing that I am solving problems that matter to our country as well as empowering our warfighters with new technologies that one day can save lives.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
As any researcher will tell you, a typical day is often times an illusion. I wear many hats in my current role, and on any given day I am developing new ideas, seeking funding, working on publications, briefing audiences, as well as mentoring junior scientists and engineers. The one thing I can say though, is that now that I have graduated and have a career, I can (for the most part) decide when my workday is over and not take any of that work home; trust me, you will get there sooner than you think.
What was the best part of your experience at UCI?
Location aside (come on, how can you say no to Orange County?), the people at UCI is who made the best part of my experience. UCI, and The Bren School in particular, believe in exploring beyond your boundaries and learning from others, especially those far from your field. In addition, the fact that UCI is still a fairly new campus makes for an experience where students are encouraged to engage and contribute to the way the campus operates.
In what way(s) did your studies prepare you for your career to date?
While my studies definitely provided a sound basis for my career, UCI encouraged me to think on my own, solve difficult problems, and be proactive about mentoring others. These three life lessons have become the basis of my career so far, and have enabled me to be an effective researcher and leader.
What would be your advice to incoming students who might want to follow a similar career path?
First of all, remember that you are there to learn and that learning will come in different forms. With that said, cherish your time as a student and don’t be afraid to explore, oftentimes we learn more from failures than we do from things going according to plan. Lastly, recognize early in your career that you are not there by chance; though you earned your way to UCI, there are many people in your life who played a role in you getting there- this is your chance to give back by supporting others along the journey.