CISE-SE Students at GHC 2020

The Center for Information and Systems Engineering (CISE) and the Division of Systems Engineering (SE) sponsored seven students to represent the College of Engineering at this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration (September 26-October 3). The event aims to nurture the research and career paths of women finding inspiration in its annual commemoration of Grace Murray Hopper (1906 – 1992). Dr. Hopper was a pioneer in the field of computer programming and systems engineering, whose many achievements included inventing the first computer language compiler, which was later incorporated into COBOL.

Attending this year’s virtual event were Clara Lin (SE), Penny Kiourti (ECE), Rui Liu (SE),  Xiaoyu Li (SE), Prachi Shukla (CE), Qianqian Ma (ECE), and Samantha Puterman (CE). These women had the opportunity to network, increase visibility in their respective disciplines, engage in discourse with prominent professionals in diverse science, research and technology disciplines.

Clara Lin is a 4th year Ph.D. candidate in Systems Engineering working with Professor Sean Andersson (ME, SE) in the BU Robotics Lab. Her research is focused on Single Particle Tracking.  At GHC, Lin presented a poster entitled, Simultaneous Localization and Parameter Estimation for Single Particle Tracking in Confined Environments.  “As a presenter, I benefitted from more people knowing about my research, and I got inspiration from them,” says Lin. “What impressed me most was the powerful connection GHC gave. It provided the means to directly talk with people working in a variety of universities, communities, and companies. I also learned a lot of from the personal lessons shared by senior women in technology.”

Penny Kiourti is a 3rd-year Ph.D. student in the ECE department working with Professor Wenchao Li (ECE, SE) in the Dependable Computing Lab. Her research is primarily on the security aspect of Machine Learning systems. Says  Kiourti, “I was able to get productivity, career, and wellness advice, as well as interview preparation tips. I also had access to information about companies as they shared guidelines and information on how to apply and prepare for jobs. This event also supports and promotes all underrepresented groups in a positive way.”

Prachi Shukla is a 4th year Ph.D. student in Computer Engineering  working with Professor Ayse Coskun (ECE) in the Performance and Energy-Aware Computing (PEAC) Lab. The focus of her research is in energy-efficient computing, 3D architectures, thermal management, EDA development.  Of GHC, Shukla shares, “It was exciting to hear from women leaders from companies such as IBM or Intel talk about their leadership roles in building chips and supercomputers. GHC also offered some great workshops/sessions such as effective code review or open source, which helped me understand how I can efficiently collaborate, which is a very important skill. There were other sessions on diversity and equity, which I liked and found educational. The keynotes leave you feeling inspired and motivated to excel in your own field.”

Rui Liu, whose advisor is Professor Alex Olshevsky (ECE, SE), says, “I look forward to applying my research into industry and found the career sessions of GHC awesome.  They gave me an opportunity to communicate and build relationships with women in high-tech who have similar research and career interests with me. These connections are a tremendous help in starting and advancing my career in the future.”

Xiaoyu Li, whose advisor is Professor Francesco Orabona (ECE, CS), is a 3rd year Ph.D. student from the Division of System Engineering working in OPTIMAL Lab.  Her research is focused on understanding and designing optimization methods in machine learning, specifically, stochastic gradient descent and its variants, and adaptive gradient descent methods. About GHC, Li says, “It is great to learn from different women who share their experiences and power.  During the Amazon’s SDE session, I got several professional instructions on the resume and interview. In addition, I was told that there would be an extended virtual career fair in November, and I am looking forward to it!”

Qianqian Ma, whose advisor is Professor Alex Olshevsky (ECE, SE), is a 4th year Ph.D. in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Her research is focused on machine learning and distributed optimization.  “At GHC, some excellent women engineers and scientists shared their true experiences and thoughts about their careers as well as their lives.  I have learned a lot from this. There are also many great intern opportunities at the career fair. ”

Samantha Puterman, whose advisor is Professor Ayse Coskun (ECE), is a a junior studying computer engineering in the Performance and Energy-Aware Computing (PEAC) Lab. The focus of her research is Advancing Automated Distributed Tracing in the Cloud. Puterman says, “GHC was very helpful for networking and learning about new technologies and personal development. There is a big community of women in STEM who are trying to promote and achieve great things. What impacted me the most was knowing that though women are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, there are lots of resources, students and professionals open and excited to help each other succeed in their own career paths.”

These students were selected to represent the College of Engineering based on an application process announced by CISE and SE on September 1st, 2020. To learn more about GHC, visit:

 CISE Staff Eliza Shaw and Emma Silva contributed to this story.