Faculty Spotlight: Nina Amenta
This spotlight is part of our 2022 International Women's Day feature.
Describe your personal and professional background and current role in the College of Engineering.
I am a professor and former chair of the Department of Computer Science. I work on algorithms for geometry problems, mainly with computer graphics. I'm also interested in using computers to prevent or adapt to climate change.
What led you to the engineering field?
I was a classics major in college. But then I started programming, learned a lot on the job, and did some night-school and extension classes. Eventually, I got into grad school through UC Berkeley's Reentry Program, later a casualty of California's Prop. 209. Right place, right time, I guess.
Highlight your current research. What do you love about it, why are you excited and how do you stay motivated?
I am now working on a mathematical description of the way shapes deform over time. This grew out of some research I did a long time ago about visualizing how the shapes of monkey skulls evolve, but it has turned into the development of some cool new math.
The 2022 International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias. How do you support gender equity and #BreakTheBias in the engineering field?
There is still a big gender disparity in computer science. Why? I think some men major in computer science to make money, and women don't as much, which is fine! But sometimes, women discover programming through other paths and realize that they love it. I try to create these paths at UC Davis through web design and our new data science major.