The Secret Lives of Millennial CS Assistant Professors (Part 2)

Slide from my CSE 234 and DSC 102 on the many data-centric hats that data scientists/ML engineers wear in the Data Sourcing stage of the ML lifecycle. Most prior ML/data mining courses fail to cover such tasks in depth, while most prior DB courses cover them too generically, ignoring ML-specific nuances.

Lesson: Creating new courses is a lot of work but it can be rewarding and impactful. Do so prudently to fill key curricular gaps and bring structure to an area. Use course research projects as filters to recruit advisees.

Grand Prize Winners in my DSC 102 Meme Competition. AWS/cloud and Dask are just so memeworthy. :) See more memes by the students on my Tumbr page:

Lesson: Academic integrity is crucial; enforce without fear of teaching evals. Separate wheat from chaff in (noisy) student feedback. Use precise grading criteria and learning evaluation rooted in pedagogical research.

At the fun HDSI Faculty Retreat in Fall 2021. Some of us hiked down to Black’s Beach.
A panel from another memoir I wrote: “The arc of the moral universe is long” and dotted with dehumanization and injustices that still cast a long shadow over our present. It “bends toward justice” only if we — all of us — consciously work to bend it. Being oblivious, callously ignoring inequities, living in denial, or covering up truths will not help.
At the oSTEM National Conference in Fall 2018 with the student contingent from UCSD. CSE/UCSD was an academic sponsor that year. I helped run a booth to answer questions and recruit students to apply to UCSD. We also handed out pamphlets and swag from various UCSD departments/divisions.

Lesson: If you are troubled by inequities/discrimination/marginalization of people in CS, step up with DEI service. Do not sit on the sidelines. Reach out to relevant people. Educate yourself. Choose activities that work for you, ranging from short-term student mentoring to long-term systemic efforts.

Only the bridge is supposed to be dark orange in this photo. :-/ California is especially vulnerable to the climate change crisis. Photo credit and copyright:

Lesson: Welcome constructive criticism of DEI efforts to improve them. Partner with CS industry to amplify DEI impact. Also: Haters gonna hate, hate, hate. Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break. Shake it off. Shake it off. :)

Lesson: Make peace with not getting tenure and even not staying in academia. Figure out the lifestyle you want for yourself. Work backward from that to fulfill your mix of Asst Prof duties. A happy lifestyle can raise productivity.

L to R: San Diego Comic-Con in 2018. Shockingly, I was the only one there with an Infinity Gauntlet! Munich for VLDB’17. View of the historic Marienplatz. Rio for VLDB’18. Likely the most relaxing urban beaches I have ever seen, San Diego included! Amsterdam for SIGMOD’19. Near the Anne Frank House with my husband.

Lesson: Your loved ones will matter more than you think. Communicate with your spouse/SO honestly about stresses. Seek help from close family and friends. Being vulnerable is a strength. And hang in there!

Joking about what makes an “ML researcher” in the era of expanding work on ML systems.
A still of Buddhist nun and chef, Jeong Kwan, from one of my favorite Netflix series, Chef’s Table. This episode is a beautiful lesson on expressing one’s creativity without letting envy destroy it. Read more about her life here:



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