I jumped down the computer science rabbit hole in my freshman year at the University of Nevada-Reno. My family lived outside of the Carson Valley, with amazing views of the Pine Nut Mountains and Sierra Nevada, so naturally, I trekked across acres of sagebrush to photograph every sunrise and sunset. After some time, I wanted to show my work on the Web and set out to build a photo gallery. Finding off-the-shelf software to be lacking, I embarked on a journey to build my own photo gallery. More than eight years later, I still don’t have a photo gallery of my own.
I am self-taught like most programmers, and I paid for food and gas during my undergrad by building websites in my spare time (in addition to donating plasma). Programming soon became my favorite hobby, but I was too far into my biology and chemistry undergrad to change majors. Once I graduated, I contemplated becoming a medical technologist, but out of curiosity, I browsed UM’s computer science catalog. “Bioinformatics! I wasted a whole week reading about that and cheminformatics instead of doing my organic chemistry homework”. And thus, I began the two years of prerequisites before starting a master’s in computer science.
The breadth of this program allowed me to explore a number of fields like bioinformatics, machine learning, cryptography, data visualization, and human-computer interaction. While I was originally interested in bioinformatics, natural language processing and human-computer interaction have become my primary areas of academic interest. Professionally, I am very interested in software engineering best practices — delivering robust, well-tested software — as I’ve worked as a full-time programmer throughout my entire degree. For hobbyist computing, once I graduate, I intend to pursue my backlog of data visualization projects because it’s visual (!), challenging, and rewarding.
I’m most proud of the projects listed in the sidebar. Every graduate project I’ve completed has been incredibly challenging and frustrating at times, but the end-results are very rewarding. Through these projects, I’ve learned practical skills, but I also learned how to overcome fear of failure and to become motivated by the work itself and not the grade at the end. It was an incredible shift in thinking from “It’s not good enough for an ‘A’” to “It’s not good enough for me”. Also, I will probably be guilt-ridden for the rest of my life.
After graduation, I am moving to Portland, OR, to work at The Clymb as an application engineer. I’m thrilled to join such a dynamic company! I’m also looking forward to filling my former homework-time with plenty of side learning projects. My every-growing text file includes trying my hand at generative art, practicing data visualization, implementing an interpreter, gaining more practical experience with low-level multiprocessing, and working through my copy of Theory of Computation.