Q. What do you do for Persis?
I perform quality testing and produce software architecture documentation for a Persis client’s systems integration software.
Q. What's is your area of expertise?
I’m a cognitive scientist with peer-reviewed publications on visual attention, learning and memory. For my doctoral dissertation, I studied the role of context and familiarity on eye movements and designed a computational model for predicting what scene regions will attract attention. More broadly, I have expertise in problem analysis, as well as the design and implementation of experiments to study human behavior.
Q. How did you get into this field?
Throughout childhood, I participated in competitive athletics, which is where my fascination with the science of human performance began. The subjective nature of reality was my first clue that I wanted to become a neuroscientist.
When I entered the University of Texas at Austin, I decided to get a dual-major in Electrical Engineering and Biology because I knew those fields would give me the technical foundation and knowledge-base to pursue graduate studies in neuroscience.
In 2004, I began studying Systems Neuroscience at MIT and was introduced to Dr. Aude Oliva, an innovative vision scientist who pioneered scene-based approaches (in contrast to object-based approaches) in human and computer vision. During a lab rotation, I learned how to run eye-tracking studies and was instantly enthralled by the ability to measure human attention in real-time. My interest in learning and improving performance translated into a series of experiments on memory, eye movements, and image-based visual cues.
I am presently working with language scientists at UT Austin who study dual-language learning and abnormal language development in children.
Q. If you weren’t working with Persis, and you could do anything you wanted to do, what would your dream job be?
In my dream job, I spend large swaths of time analyzing data, developing insights, and designing software to help make people smarter.
Q. What is your favorite book and/or TV show and/or movie and/or food?
Favorite books as a function of age: My teens - The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand), My twenties - House of Spirits (Isabelle Allende), My thirties - Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card).
Favorite TV or movies: Game of Thrones (HBO), Homeland (Showtime), Daily Show (Comedy Central)
Favorite foods: Wine, cheese, steak
Q. What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I like to run, bike and swim long distances. In 2014, I will do my first marathon (February) and half-ironman triathlon (April).
After exercising, I adore reading mystery and science fiction novels. Any spare time after that is spent with my wonderful family, preferably outdoors, in beautiful Austin, Texas.
Q. Is there something you’ve done, some talent you have, or some other interesting fact about you that people are surprised to learn about?
With my average height and stature, people are surprised to learn that I was on the University of Texas Women’s Rowing team (1998-2000).