“Girls in AI” project shares testimonies of CMU Portugal female Ph.D. students

The “Girls in AI project” is an initiative by Instituto Superior Técnico led by Professor Isabel Trancoso (Técnico/INESC ID and CMU Portugal faculty member & researcher). The project aims to share short testimonial videos of former and current Técnico students who followed a career in Artificial Intelligence (AI), showing the endless career opportunities in this area and inspiring more girls to follow them.

In this group of testimonies, we will find CMU Portugal students from different Dual Degree Ph.D. Programs willing to share their experience and inspire other female candidates to pursue the Artificial Intelligence area, and who knows, pursue a CMU Portugal Ph.D. Program!

Here are their stories – and more about the Girls in AI initiative.

Maria Casimiro

Maria Casimiro is a CMU Portugal Dual Degree Ph.D. student in Software Engineering at INESC-ID/Instituto Superior Técnico and the Software and Societal Systems from Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science. In her 3mn video, Maria shares what drove her into AI and Machine Learning and what inspires her most in this field.

I initially became interested in Machine Learning when I was studying in Italy, as part of the Erasmus program, and took a course on it. I further worked with Machine Learning on my master’s thesis and when I started my Ph.D. I knew I wanted to continue working on it, not only due to its potential, but also due to its limitations.

In her brief testimony, she focuses on her research work, her Dual Degree Ph.D. Program experience, and her internship at Feedzai last summer under the scope of the CMU Portugal project CAMELOT.

Thanks to the CMU Portugal, I’ve had the opportunity to present my work at multiple events, such as the CMU Portugal Symposium and Encontro Ciência 2022. These events are always a great way to publicize our work. The Program has also allowed me to collaborate with top researchers, professors, and students and has exposed me to a completely different culture which is turning me into a better researcher.

 The “Girls in AI” initiative aims to inspire younger women to follow this research field and the CMU Portugal Program is happy to contribute to this goal.

Maria’s testimony is available online. We are proud to share it and to have such inspiring female students under the Program.

CMU Portugal Inside Story with Maria Casimiro here.
Profile on CMU Portugal Website here.

Margarida Ferreira

Margarida Ferreira is a CMU Portugal Dual Degree Ph.D. student in Computer Science at Instituto Superior Técnico (Técnico) and the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Under her Ph.D. she expects to develop research in program synthesis further and find new ways to help people quickly and safely use a computer to automate daily tasks, advised by Inês Lynce at Técnico and Ruben Martins at CMU.

In her “Girls in AI” testimony she shares how she started working in AI:

It was in the third year of my undergraduate studies in Computer Science at Técnico that I started working in AI. I was offered the New Talents in Artificial Intelligence grant, by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. This grant allows undergraduate and Master students to develop a project in collaboration with a University Professor. I got to work with Professor Inês Lynce, now my Ph.D. advisor.

In the last year of her Master’s, she learned about program synthesis, the task of automatically generating a computer program from a description of its desired behavior. She developed her Master’s thesis under on that topic supervised by Ruben Martins, CMU Portugal Faculty member at CMU, as part of CMU Portugal’s Large-scale Collaborative Research Project GOLEM.

Now, I’m halfway through the second year of my Ph.D. I’ve been exploring more applications of automated reasoning and program synthesis. As part of the CMU Portugal Dual Degree Ph.D. program, I’ve had the fortune of spending the first 2 years of my Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University. My time there has been a wonderful, eye-opening experience, which allowed me to grow as a researcher. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some of the world’s top researchers.

To know more about her experience, watch the video below!

CMU Portugal Inside Story with Margarida Ferreira here.
Profile on CMU Portugal Website here.

Carolina Carreira

Carolina Carreira is a CMU Portugal Dual Degree Ph.D. student in Human Computer-Interaction enrolled in 2022 both at Instituto Superior Técnico (Técnico) and at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human Computer Interaction Institute. Her main research topic is Usable Security and her research interests are focused on users’ motivations and concerns when using security software. She is advised by João Ferreira (Técnico) and Alexandra Mendes (FEUP) in Portugal, and by Nicolas Christin at CMU.

Carolina´s shared that it was her Master’s work that first guided her towards the areas of Cybersecurity  (her Master’s major), Usability, and Programming Languages. After her master’s, she applied to the CMU Dual Degree Ph.D. Program and was accepted in 2022. She has plans to go to CMU next year to develop further research at the Human-computer interaction Institute.

In her “Girls in AI” testimony she briefly explained her main research topic:

“Usability problems are a major factor in users disregarding security mechanisms. For example, despite experts recommending password managers, the adoption of these tools is still low, partly because users distrust them. I’m passionate about this research field and believe that usable security is a very important research field that can contribute to a more reliable and secure society.

More about her experience in the video below:

Profile on CMU Portugal Website here.