(Research) Heroes

Greetings from Manhattan, where I’m visiting for STOC and for the Women in Theory (WIT) workshop.

I attended the first WIT workshop as a PhD student, back in 2008. That workshop marked the moment when I first started to feel that I belonged in the CS theory community. I realized I was finally at the point where I could get a lot out of attending technical talks, and that I could even sometimes ask a good question. And there I was at the workshop, schmoozing with some of my biggest research heroes—Dorit Aharonov, Shuchi Chawla, Julia Chuzhoy, Irit Dinur, Cynthia Dwork, Joan Feigenbaum, Shafi Goldwasser, Tal Malkin, Eva Tardos, Tiffani Williams, Lisa Zhang—what a lineup! It was so inspiring to talk with the speakers at the workshop and to hear not only about their work, but about their lives, their families, and the challenges they’d faced in their careers. There was something very special about sitting in technical talks and looking around the room to see a sea of female faces, when I’d grown accustomed to being the only woman or one of only a few in the room. Then, to top it off, I had a conversation with Eva Tardos where she suggested coming to Cornell for a postdoc, which was my dream.

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