Career Profiles

Explore profiles of real professionals and students to learn how they got started, what they love about computing, and all about the fascinating work they do.

Jill Gostin

Senior Research Scientist, Atlanta, United States


Master of Science in Mathematics, Georgia Institute of Technology
Bachelor of Arts (mathematics), Greenville College
“Never be afraid to try something new. Opportunities don’t always just “appear”, sometimes you have to make them happen. Joining a professional society in whatever field you choose will help you create those opportunities!”

I loved math and numbers from birth, I think; I remember, maybe in kindergarten, being given a 3rd grade math workbook as a birthday present, and thinking it was the best present ever! During my elementary thru high school years, computers were becoming a bigger part of society. As I started college as a math major, it was a natural thing for me to include computer classes; I ended up with a minor in computer science. Those classes were a big selling point on my resume, and as I began my career, computers were integral to everything I did. Now, after many years in my field, my reliance on computing has expanded. High-performance computing hardware and software is essential to the system and software development and testing I do.

My day begins getting my kids off to school, driving to work thru the wonderful Atlanta traffic, then I start my day at work reviewing all the emails that came in overnight. Throughout the day, I manage programs, write proposals, design experiments to test software, run those experiments (sometimes in millions of runs), and assess the results. I write papers and presentations based on my assessments. I try to keep up with emails throughout the day, and at the end of each day I leave myself a list of things that need to be done the next day.

My major was mathematics; my job title is currently “Senior Research Scientist”. I enjoy the fact that I have varying responsibilities throughout each day. The focus of my research has also changed over time. It’s good to have a wide variety of experiences to draw upon. I also like the opportunities I have here to help others; I serve as the Chair of the GTRI Awards Council, helping others get the recognition they deserve for their work.

I began and completed my Master’s Degree while a full-time employee at GTRI. As part of my Master’s Degree program, I took some courses in Fractal Geometry. At that time, researchers were just beginning to explore the many ways that fractal geometry techniques could be applied to real-world applications. Before I graduated, I had to perform and present the results of a research project to the math department. I decided to integrate my work in radar systems with my new understanding of fractal geometry. At the time, I was investigating innovative, automated techniques for deciding what a radar had “seen”, based on the returned radar signature. For my project, I chose to use the Fractal Dimension of the returned signature as a new technique. I tested this technique using measured radar data. The technique was successful, and I was subsequently able to turn that initial research into several funded contracts.

I spend a lot of my free time participating in and volunteering for IEEE activities. I also love to sing, and sing in the Praise Band at my church. I’m an obsessive reader, often reading 4-5 books/ week.

EAB Awards 2013



2011 Sections Congress

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Explore profiles of real professionals and students to learn how they got started, what they love about computing, and all about the fascinating work they do.

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Sandra Lerner

It is difficult to imagine a time when computers were not capable of sharing information and resources with great ease. Sandra Lerner pushed the boundaries of network computing as one of the co-founders of Cisco Systems, which introduced one of the first commercially viable routers. The router was born while Sandra was working at Stanford University in the 1980’s after earning her Master’s degree there in Computer Science. To avoid the tedious task of transferring information between computers using floppy disks, she and co-founder of Cisco, Leonard Bosack, created a local area network, or LAN, between their campus offices using a multiprotocol router that Bosack developed. Shortly thereafter the pair started Cisco Systems, and began selling the router which was a success, because it could work with so many different types of computers. After Leaving Cisco in 1990, Lerner started the trendy cosmetics company Urban Decay and became a philanthropist and avid activist for animal rights.

Turing machine
Alan Mathison Turing
Alan Mathison Turing

Did you know that computing has been used in military espionage and has even influenced the outcome of major wars? Alan Mathison Turing designed the code breaking machine that enabled the deciphering of German communications during WWII. As per the words of Winston Churchill, this would remain the single largest contribution to victory. In addition, he laid the groundwork for visionary fields such as automatic computing engines, artificial intelligence and morphogenesis. Despite his influential work in the field of computing, Turing experienced extreme prejudice during his lifetime regarding his sexual orientation. There is no doubt that computers are ubiquitously part of our lives due to the infusion of Turing’s contributions.

King's Quest
Roberta Williams

Video games immerse users in a world of high tech thrills, stunning visuals, unique challenges, and interactivity. They enable users to become a warrior princess or a gruesome ghoul, create a virtual persona, or even develop worlds that other gamers can play on. But before the games of today became reality, they were the dreams of a few innovative individuals.

Roberta Williams is considered one of the pioneers of gaming as we know it today. During the 80’s and 90’s along with husband Ken Williams through their company On-Line Systems, she developed some of the first graphical adventure games. These included such titles as Mystery House, Wizard and the Princess and the popular King’s Quest series. Williams also helped introduce more girls and women to the world of gaming by bringing games developed from a woman’s perspective to mainstream market.

RISC processor
John Hennessy
John Hennessy

Have you ever wondered how computers can execute complex commands in mere seconds? John Hennessy is a pioneer of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architecture which employs small, highly-optimized sets of instructions to greatly enhance computer performance. He was instrumental in transferring the technology, specifically MIPS RISC architecture, to industry. He co-founded MIPS Technologies and co-authored the classic textbook with David A. Patterson, on Computer Architecture.

As Stanford faculty he rose to be the Chairman of the Computer Science Department, Dean of the School of Engineering, then Provost and finally the President of Stanford in 2000 (and till date). Hennessy holds a Master’s and Ph.D. in Computer Science from SUNY Stony Brook. He is an IEEE Fellow and was selected to receive the IEEE Medal of Honor in 2012. Hennessey also launched significant activities that helped to foster interdisciplinary research in the biosciences and bioengineering at Stanford.

Punch card from a COBOL program
Jean Sammet

Jean E. Sammet was one of the first developers and researchers in programming languages. During the 1950’s - 1960’s she supervised the first scientific programming group for Sperry Gyroscope Co. and served as a key member of the original COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) committee at Sylvania Electric Products. She also taught one of the first graduate programming courses in the country at Adelphi College. After joining IBM in 1961, she developed and directed the first FORMAC (FORmula MAnipulation Compiler). This was the first widely used general language and system for manipulating nonnumeric algebraic expressions. In 1979 she began handling Ada activities for IBM’s Federal Systems Division. Ada is a structured, object-oriented high-level computer programming language, designed for large, long-lived applications, where reliability and efficiency are paramount. Jean has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. from the University of Illinois, both in Mathematics. She received an honorary D.Sc. from Mount Holyoke (1978).

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