Bianca Zadrozny (PhD '03): Developing Novel Approaches to Natural Resources Discovery and Exploration
San Diego, Calif., Jan. 8, 2020 -- Since earning her PhD in 2003, Bianca Zadrozny has pursued her computer science career, in both industry and academia, in two countries. Her path has led her to IBM Research in Brazil, where she oversees natural resources analytics research.
Her group’s mission is to conduct research projects in data-driven and physically driven analytics, aiming to develop novel technologies that can help in smarter natural resources discovery and exploration.
“I manage a group of researchers who are working on machine learning, and energy efficient techniques in general, applied to the geosciences,” said Zadrozny. “We support geologists and geophysicists working in natural resources areas, such as mining, oil and gas.”
It’s a career that started at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Jacobs School, where her dissertation focused on cost-sensitive learning, a machine learning discipline that assesses the value of different misclassifications.
“The training data could have some bias,” said Zadrozny, “This helps us know if the model is correct.”
After graduating, Zadrozny went to work at IBM’s Data Analytics Research at the T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York where she had interned during the summer while working on her doctorate.
In 2006, she returned to her native Brazil to become a computer science professor at Federal Fluminense University. “I wanted to see what it was like to work in academia as well, so I left IBM and went to the university for five years.”
But in 2011, IBM opened a new research lab in Brazil and recruited her to come back to big blue, where her machine learning studies came in handy.
“The work I do now goes back to my PhD work at UCSD,” she said. “Now I use those skills to work on things associated with the geosciences.”
Zadrozny is also an active researcher in machine learning and data mining communities and has published over 40 articles in those areas.
She reflects on all she learned about computer science—and life in general—while at the Jacobs School. She recalls discussion with professor Francine Berman and other computer science professors about their careers and picking up tidbits she would never find in a textbook.
“Nowadays, reflecting back on the mentorship, I can really see how important it was,” said Zadrozny. “I learned about things like imposter syndrome, which I had never heard about before. It’s been quite helpful.”
She says her computer science classes were rigorous and allowed her to learn outside of her main focus, giving her a strong and broad background for her career. “Besides my dissertation subject, I have a very good idea about other areas in computer science.”
And that would be her main message to current students: focus on your primary interest, but leave room for other disciplines that might come in handy. In other words, it’s important to be well-rounded.
“Now, computer science is more and more about having a view of industry, business problems and other areas to do good applied work,” said Zadrozny. “Be deep in the areas you like, but get a broader view of computer science that might be interesting for future interdisciplinary work.”
Jacobs School of Engineering