at Autonomous Vehicle Security
Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in 1995
PhD in Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame in 2000
I was a bunch of different majors, like philosophy, computer science, exercise science, etc. but always took a math class. I knew that if I took a semester off from math, I might never go back. Some time around my Junior year I became a math major. One of the appeals to me was that there was a correct answer. You didn’t have to try to convince people that you were right or worry what they thought about your answer, it was provably right or wrong.
I do cybersecurity for the self driving vehicles being produced at Cruise Automation which is a subsidiary of General Motors. I’ve been in the cybersecurity space for around 15 years. I was hired as a cryptographic mathematician at the National Security Agency and while I was there I transitioned into computer security.
How I use math in my job:
I don’t use math exactly but I do use mathematical reasoning extensively. I often times have to break complex problems into smaller more achievable problems and work my way towards the ultimate solution. One of the most important things I learned in graduate school is how to work on very difficult problems and one of the many things I learned is that its okay to pick hard problems to work on and when you do, it will take some time to solve it. Hard problems are hard and that’s okay.
Advice for students getting ready to hit the job market or apply to graduate school:
Almost as important as choosing your graduate school is choosing a professor you’d like to work with. Instead of just picking a school that is well ranked, think about what particular types of problems you want to solve and find some professors who are doing really cool work in that area and apply to the schools they work at. After all, you’ll be spending a few years working very closely with that professor, regardless of the school you will attend.