What Flying an Airplane Upside Down Taught Me About Data Science - Dr. Cecilia Aragon
Date: Wednesday, September 28 (add it to your calendar)
Time: 12 noon - 1 pm PT
Join us on Zoom
In this talk Cecilia Aragon describes her journey from extremely fearful daughter of immigrants to daredevil airshow pilot — and then to using supercomputers to solve some of the greatest mysteries of the universe. She’ll present examples from a 30-year career in aviation, astrophysics, and data science, and talk about how using math to face her fears enabled her to become the first Latina pilot on the US Unlimited Aerobatic Team. She scaffolded that courage to build a career in data science, developing the new field of human-centered data science, and becoming the first Latina to achieve the rank of Full Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Washington in its 100-year history.
Dr. Cecilia Aragon is an award-winning author, former US Unlimited Aerobatic Team pilot, former staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and currently data science professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. She’s worked with Nobel Prize winners, taught astronauts to fly, and created musical simulations of the universe with rock stars. Her innovative research, and a stint at NASA designing software for Mars missions, led President Obama to call her “one of the top scientists and engineers in the country.”
Aragon earned her BS with honors in mathematics from Caltech and her PhD in computer science from UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on human-centered data science, an emerging field at the intersection of human-computer interaction (HCI) and data science. She has authored or co-authored over 130 peer-reviewed articles, 3 books, 4 patents, and over 140 other publications in the areas of HCI, data science, machine learning, and astrophysics. Her research has received over $28M in grants from government, industry, and private foundations.
Aragon received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the US government on outstanding scientists in the early stages of their careers. She is a 2017-18 Fulbright Scholar and a Distinguished Member of the ACM. In 2015, she received the HCDE Faculty Innovator in Research Award from the University of Washington. She won the Distinguished Alumni Award in Computer Science from UC Berkeley in 2013, the student-nominated Faculty Innovator in Teaching Award from her department at UW that same year, and was named one of the Top 25 Women of 2009 by Hispanic Business Magazine. In addition to her love of math and science, she’s passionate about helping others face their own fears and challenges to achieve their goals.
Her award-winning memoir, Flying Free, shares how she used math to break past her own fears and become a champion aerobatic pilot — and how facing her fear of flying enabled her to succeed in a STEM career. It debuted on five bestseller lists and is a TODAY Show and Hip Latina Recommended Read. Her book Writers in the Secret Garden, the subject of her recent TED talk which received over a million views in three months, takes a close look at the fascinating world of fanfiction to explore how young people express themselves. Her latest book, Human-Centered Data Science (2022), is an accessible guide to best practices for addressing bias and inequality in data science and artificial intelligence. Learn more at CeciliaAragonAuthor.com