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Goodstein and Schweizer Earn Luce Fellowships

Michelle Goodstein

Vanessa Schweizer
Look into the faces of doctoral students Michelle Goodstein and Vanessa Schweizer and you look into the future of women in science. Both women, who compiled an impressive list of honors and awards for their work as undergraduates, have earned a Clare Booth Luce Fellowship, which promotes the advancement of American women through higher education in the sciences, engineering and mathematics.

Goodstein, a Ph. D. student in computer science, completed her undergraduate degrees in computer science and mathematics at the University of Washington. In additional to being named to the dean's list for three successive years, she was a Sophomore Medalist—the highest academic achievement for second-year students at the University of Washington. Only one student receives the distinction each year.

As a university honors student, Goodstein began her research in computer science by investigating data mining. Her thesis explored collaborative filtering, or using sparse amounts of data from many users to make recommendations. This project led Goodstein to apply to graduate school to further her research in computer science. She chose Carnegie Mellon for its top-ranked academics and cutting-edge research in computer science. "Applied theoretical computer science research allows me to use my mathematics background while still working on real-world problems," she said.

Manuel Blum, the Bruce Nelson Professor of Computer Science and Goodstein's advisor, recognizes her talent. "Michelle is amazing. I've had—and I have—some great students, but none have ever gotten into research as fast as she has," he said.

Schweizer, a doctoral student in engineering and public policy, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Nevada, Reno and went on to earn a master's degree in environmental studies at The Evergreen State College. Her honors range from ranking 14th in the nation in the National Parliamentary Debate Association to being a Foundation Fellow at Evergreen State. Her graduate research topic investigated the relationship between the institutional history of the World Bank and biodiversity hotspots. Schweizer was drawn to Carnegie Mellon by its reputation for interdisciplinary research, specifically in the cross-disciplinary field of engineering and public policy. "Too many scientists and technical experts have little or no experience with policy, while many policy experts know little about science and technology," she said. "EPP bridges this gap and, in doing so, enables better public policy."

Schweizer is now a research assistant at the Climate Decision Making Center, where she focuses on changes in the United States electricity industry, especially the future uses of various energy sources and how this will affect the global climate. She hopes to apply her research to global energy practices, especially those in emerging economies.

Granger Morgan, Lord Chair Professor in Engineering and professor and department head for EPP, has high hopes for his student. "Vanessa has a strong technical background but has decided that she wants to work on a set of broader issues that will allow her to apply that background to help solve some of the pressing problems which face society today."

The Clare Boothe Luce Program is the largest source of private support for women in the areas of science, engineering and mathematics. The program has supported scholarships and fellowships for more than 800 undergraduate and 390 graduate students.

Vijay Jesrani
November 1, 2005

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