Research freedom, an open publication policy, and Preston McAfee were just a few of the reasons why Research Scientist Justin Rao joined Yahoo! Labs.
Today, Yuan works with Yahoo! Labs scientists to build prototypes for various projects. He enjoys what he does at work and sees it as a full circle back to his childhood. “Just as it was when I was a kid, I liked to build stuff then and that’s what I’m doing now,” he said.
Research Scientist Nilesh Dalvi couldn’t get enough of puzzles as a child. “My father is a connoisseur of puzzles and brainteasers,” he said, describing how he was deeply influenced. “I couldn’t wait to go to the stores to find the newest puzzles and games.”
The Yahoo! Academic Relations team consists of campus relations managers and program managers to create a customized approach to campus engagements. Covering about 30 schools in the U.S. and more than 10 in India, the team works with key contacts on campus to strengthen Yahoo!’s relationship with academia and get the most value for Yahoo!’s business. We recently caught up with the team’s campus relations managers last month to capture what they do on their visits.
“I always thought I’d go into medicine, but honestly, I mostly didn’t think about it,” says Research Scientist Sharad Goel. Born and raised in Madison, WI, Goel grew up with three older sisters, two of whom eventually became doctors. His parents naturally thought he would follow in their footsteps.
However, Goel took a different direction and chose to major in something he felt wasn’t really his strength: math. “I was always interested in science, but not math,” says Goel.
Researcher Deepak Agarwal was about to start a career in physics at the Presidency College in Calcutta when a professor ignited his interest in statistics. “He encouraged me to focus on statistics instead after he reviewed my answers to some probability theory questions in the physics entrance exam,” said Agarwal.
“My work involves application of principled techniques from a variety of fields as well as developing new approaches to practical problems,” he says. “Yahoo! is also well-positioned because of the huge amounts of data and computational power that we routinely use in our work.”
Research Scientist Erik Vee always loved math. As a young child, he would draw all the time. “I thought I was going to be an artist because I loved to draw,” says Vee. However, in 5th grade, math became his new passion.
Bohannon’s early interests included reading science fiction and fantasy books, and playing with computers. He attended Birmingham-Southern College where he earned a B.S. in computer science. “If you can succeed in doing something that seems more like playing, then it’s hard to go wrong,” explains Bohannon.
Tej Kasturi was three years old when he first came to live in the U.S. “My earliest memory was getting off a plane in Texas with my mom,” recalls Kasturi. At the time, his father was working on his doctorate at Texas Tech in Lubbock. Four years later, the family moved to Pennsylvania when his father accepted a teaching position at Penn State’s Department of Electrical Engineering.
We recently asked Duncan a series of questions to find out more about the past, present, and future, and his thoughts on life. Here’s what he had to say.
Kishore Papineni grew up in a “small” town in India. With a population of over a half a million people, it seemed like his childhood in Guntur positioned him for a career in engineering. “That’s what the top of the class did – either engineering or medicine,” he says.
Vanja Josifovski will proudly tell you there are plenty of computer geeks in his native country of Macedonia. “Half my high school class used the Commodore 64 and the other half had the Sinclair ZX Spectrum” he jokes. “It’s how we defined each other.”
“I have a strange optimism about technology,” says Yahoo! Research scientist Bo Pang. “I don’t think technology will overtake us. But I wouldn’t have predicted the Web as it is today 10 years ago.”
Before joining Yahoo!, Lance Riedel helped develop search engine technologies for other companies. But, by his own admission, he was “a little on the outside, hooking everything together, but never actually building a search engine from scratch.”
Keerthi Selvaraj was a professor at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore when a colleague first sparked his interest in machine learning. "My focus was large scale optimization and my friend informed me that machine learning offered ample scope for optimization," Keerthi says.
Hugo Zaragoza was 17 when he left his hometown of Barcelona, Spain. It would be another 16 years before he returned for good.
Like many young kids, Brian Cooper got a personal computer for his eighth birthday. The difference, of course, is that back in 1983 most people had never heard of a PC. “I’m pretty sure I was the first kid on the block with one,” says the 32-year-old Cooper.
This year, only fifteen Yahoo!s out of over ten thousand employees were honored as Yahoo! Superstars. Michael Schwarz of Yahoo! Research was one of them. “Yahoo! is an ideal place to do rigorous microeconomic theory and turn it into practical applications,” he says.
A psychologist by training, Churchill has devoted her career to studying people—especially how they adopt and adapt technologies into their everyday lives.