From a young age, I wanted to "invent something". Fortunately I grew up at a time (the 60's-70's) and in a context (with two professional parents and two older sisters as role models), when there was plenty of opportunity to do so. In middle and high school I was part of an experimental math class in which I began to self-identify as being interested in math and science and so I went straight into Engineering as a 17 year old freshman at UC Berkeley. Through my graduate (MIT) studies, and continuing on as a young professor, it was an amazing time to be around the development of computing generally, and networking in particular. Long before the term social media was coined, the Internet was emerging as a vector for technical, organizational, and social innovation, and presented a myriad of design challenges and opportunities associated with scalability and heterogeneity in a highly collaborative international community that spanned academia and industry. In the later 90s i started working on distributed sensing (aka wireless sensor networks) and through that work became very engaged with developing new technologies in the context of scientific applications, and most recently that work has brought me to working in an area we call Participatory Sensing that leverages mobile phones and web services to support systematic data capture for a range of applications ranging from citizen science to community data gathering and personal-health applications. All along I have had the great fortune of working with creative and collaborative students and colleagues from a wide range of disciplines. All along, the plasticity of computing, the breadth of applications and challenges, the iterative and rapid pace of technology evolution, have made it a continually captivating field of work; 25 years after finishing my graduate studies I am as excited about it, if not more, than I was on day one.
From my earliest days at Berkeley, I always wished there were more women colleagues around and actively sought out those that there were, while appreciating the many male collaborators, colleagues, and mentors who were both supportive and welcoming.