Life at Graduate School
August 2004 I landed in Chicago and started a this phase of my life - graduate student life. I got my MS degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in Computer Science (CS) in 2006. Now, I'm working on my PhD. in CS at UIC.
When I joined UIC I worked at the National Center for Data Mining on a number of projects for Dr. Robert Grossman.
My PhD adviser is Dr. Leland Wilkinson and I'm looking at extending my MS work on
"Graph-theoretic Scagnostics" (see Publications).
For 2011-2012 I was elected the Chair of the Chicago Chapter of the ACM. Also, I have been
selected to be one of the student members of the Board of Trustees of the Anita
For 2009-2011 I was elected the President of the Computer Science
Student Association and President of the Women in Computer
Science group. I was
also elected the Secretary of the Graduate Student Council
which is the graduate student government @ UIC.
I was selected to serve as the student representative for UIC on the search committee
for the new President of the University of Illinois! Read about it here. Dr. Michael Hogan was instituted as President of the
University of Illinois on July 1st 2010.
Life before graduate school
At the beginning...
I was born and raised in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Here's a photo of where I lived most recently.
This is the Buhaira Corniche or the Khalid Lagoon in Sharjah.
I did my O-Levels in 10 subjects and A-Levels in Pure Math. and Physics in 2000.
Getting closer to the present...
In Fall 2000 I joined the American University of Sharjah (AUS) to do my Bachelors in Computer Science (CS). AUS
had been built from the sands in 1997 and was the first co-education university in Sharjah as well as the only one following the American model of college education in
terms of having general education course requirements on top of major course requirements. That was the most exciting part to me - the ability to experiement and explore
different fields. That's mostly because I wasn't sure at the time what I wanted to do and started out freshman year taking Architecture studio courses as well as
introduction to programming and discrete math. courses. Long story short, CS is what satisfied and stimulated me above all else.
AUS was an experience! I must say, the highlights were the all-expenses paid trips with friends as part of the programming teams representing
AUS at the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Arab and African Regional Programming
Contests. In 2002, the ACM Regional was held in Cairo, Egypt.
Cairo is a tantalizingly amazing city - a bustling, polluted, modern hub with the awe-inspiring, mysterious Pyramids at Giza as a testament
to the ages in the background.
The ACM Regional in 2003 was held in Kuwait City, Kuwait - a city and country still nursing the wounds of the Gulf war of 1990-91 in
It was in 2003 that I took a course in Artificial Intelligence and got fascinated by Neural Networks (NN). The idea of figuring out how the human
brain works and simulating human intelligence in a machine was intoxicating and I worked on a research project developing a modular NN system for facial recognition.
Another highlight of my AUS experience was my minute of fame, shaking hands with the President of the university and ruler of
Sharjah, His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi. That was when I recieved the President's Cup for the highest G.P.A at my graduation ceremony in 2004.