Rising Star Honored for Early Achievements and Promise

| September 30, 2019

Computer science PhD student Yixue Zhao will participate in the 2019 Rising Stars Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Workshop at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Zhao's research focuses on using software engineering techniques to improve mobile user experience. Photo/Yixue Zhao.

Zhao’s research focuses on using software engineering techniques to improve mobile user experience. Photo/Jing Chen.

USC computer science PhD candidate Yixue Zhao will join around 90 women from across the country at the 2019 Rising Stars Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Workshop at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, October 29 to November 1.

Previously held at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford and UC Berkeley, the annual workshop seeks the brightest and most promising women in the field during the early stages of their academic careers.

“This is a great opportunity for me to meet other successful researchers, inspirational role models, potential mentors and collaborators that could make a lifelong impact on me,” said Zhao.

“I’m very grateful to be offered the opportunity to learn from brilliant minds to guide my academic journey.”

“I’m very grateful to be offered the opportunity to learn from brilliant minds to guide my academic journey.” Yixue Zhao

Launched in 2012, the workshop unites up-and-coming female graduate students who are interested in pursuing academic careers in computer science and electrical engineering.

Participants will present their research, interact with faculty from top-tier universities and receive advice for advancing their careers. Past Rising Stars attendees have gone on to secure faculty positions at top universities or research positions at leading industry labs.

Zhao is a sixth year PhD candidate, advised by Professor Nenad Medvidović. Her research focuses on developing software engineering techniques to improve mobile user experience. Specifically, she explores ways to speed up mobile apps using techniques such as prefetching and caching, which boost performance.

“Along with the increasing popularity of mobile apps, new challenges are also emerging that need research attention, such as performance, which I focus on in my dissertation, security, privacy, usability and more,” said Zhao.

“These important problems have a large impact in our daily lives and this motivates me to do research in mobile computing.”

Before joining USC, Zhao received her bachelor’s degree in software engineering from the Harbin University of Technology in China, where she received a China National Scholarship award.

Earlier this year, Zhao won Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant and a USC Women in Science and Engineering Merit Award. She also participated in the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, 2015, and the Computing Research Association’s Grad Cohort, 2017, where she met dozens of senior women in the computing community who she said provided invaluable advice and insight.

Tackling real-world problems and being a role model to other female students are two factors that push Zhao to pursue a career in academia. Her advice for other female engineering students?

“I highly encourage other female students to explore different opportunities where you can learn valuable lessons that suit your own needs, meet female role models that inspire you, develop beneficial relationships in the long term, and find a community to which you belong.”

She recently wrote about many of these opportunities in a blog post.

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