Pictured, from left: Top row — Child Family Professor of Engineering Chen-Nee Chuah and undergraduate student Zbynka Kekula. Bottom row — undergraduate student Kavya Khare and Associate Professor Marina Radulaski.
Pictured, from left: Top row — Child Family Professor of Engineering Chen-Nee Chuah and undergraduate student Zbynka Kekula. Bottom row — undergraduate student Kavya Khare and Associate Professor Marina Radulaski.

UC Noyce Initiative Researchers Recognized in Honor of International Women's Day

Four questions with Chen-Nee Chuah and Marina Radulaski

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, the University of California, Davis, College of Engineering recognized some key female engineers  in recognition for how they inspire inclusion in engineering. Among those recognized were two researchers from the UC Noyce Initiative: Child Family Professor in Engineering Chen-Nee Chuah and Associate Professor Marina Radulaski.

The following are excerpts from the Q&A featuring Chuah and Radulaski:

Q: What inspired you to pursue engineering and can you describe your journey to UC Davis? 

Chuah: I was born and raised in Penang, Malaysia. Math and Physics were my favorite subjects in high school, and I was attracted to engineering because it is a nice combination of both. I was also inspired by two older siblings who got their degrees in electrical engineering. My older sister sponsored me to continue my education in U.S. That brought me to New Jersey, where I got my B.S. in electrical engineering from Rutgers University. Subsequently, I received my M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from UC Berkeley. I have always liked teaching and so I applied for academic positions after graduation. I joined UC Davis as an assistant professor in November 2001.

Chen-Nee Chuah

Radulaski: I love the interdisciplinary (nature) of engineering and its impact to real world solutions. I studied physics and computer science as an undergraduate student in Serbia, then applied physics and electrical engineering for my Ph.D. and postdoctoral training at Stanford University. Joining UC Davis half a decade ago allowed me to combine all these fields into a research program that builds and uses quantum information hardware which is the revolutionary technology in computing, communication and sensing.

Q: What is your current research and can you share some of the impact its made

Chuah: My current research focus on applying smart edge devices/IoTs, data science, and machine learning techniques to advance human health, e.g., AI-assisted disease screening and prognosis, pathology image analysis and behavior screening.

Radulaski: My group develops the next generation of quantum information hardware by exploring principles of light and matter interaction at the nanoscale. Our goal is to connect people and services that want to communicate in a secure way, perform advanced computing at multiple locations or correlate ultra-precise sensors. We design nanoscale optical devices that contain light emitters called color centers and harness the quantum nature of their photon emission and correlation with the electronic spin. Using tools uniquely available at UC Davis clean room and techniques developed in my lab, we have developed the first scalable process to making such devices which can propel the experiments from proof of principle to the actual industrial use.

Q: The 2024 International Women’s Day theme is #InspireInclusion. Why is it important to "inspire inclusion" in the engineering field?

Chuah: Women are still underrepresented in engineering field due to complex reasons and there remain non-technical barriers that hinder the retention of women in the engineering field. True inclusion calls for better understanding of the unique challenges faced by women (as well as other under-represented groups) in engineering and a fundamental shift of family/societal support structures.

Radulaski: Engineering solutions serve the whole humanity in our daily activities. Inspiration and perspective from engineers’ lives lived under various circumstances makes this mission more complete and our lives more suitably served.

Marina Radulaski
Q: What people or programs have inspired inclusion throughout your journey in engineering?

Chuah: Society of Women Engineers (while I was in college), Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (while I was at UC Berkeley), informal College of Engineering female faculty lunch group at UC Davis, male/female mentors I met along the way (professors, colleagues, collaborators) and many others.

Radulaski: Formative influences were all the excellent high school programs that provided me with a strong STEM training at a young age, including Mathematical High School in Belgrade, Petnica Science Center in Serbia, XLAB science camp in Germany, and the International Physics Olympiad and the First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics competitions. After these programs set me up for success in science which took me to other centers of excellence, the refining factors have been groups that were designed to promote inclusion such as women in engineering groups and optical professional societies which helped me identify invisible biases that have affected my experience and strategize in navigating my career.

Read the full article from the UC Davis College of Engineering.

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