Faculty Spotlight: Xin Liu
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 majored in electrical engineering (EE) during my BS/MS study in China and then obtained my Ph.D., also in EE, at Purdue University. I joined the Department of Computer Science as a faculty member in 2003, where I am currently a full professor. I am also a co-PI in a $20M AI Institute (AIFS), and a $6M National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator project on using artificial intelligence for food and health. My husband and I have two boys, 15 and 19. We love board games, video games, skiing, and other outdoor activities as a family.
What led you to the engineering field?
I went to college at the age of 16 and had no idea what I wanted to do. Engineering seemed appealing because I thought it would be helpful to our society. I am very glad it has worked out well.
Highlight your current research. What do you love about it, why are you excited and how do you stay motivated?
My current research focuses on machine learning algorithm development and machine learning applications in human and animal healthcare, food systems, and computer networks. I love this type of interdisciplinary research - I can see its direct impact and huge potential in our society. For example, we work on AI-based sensing for healthcare to analyze a wide range of sensory data from off-the-shelf sensors (e.g., accelerometer and gyroscope in most cellular phones) to specialized medical sensors (e.g., electrodes and ultrasound) in a privacy-preserving fashion. The potential is unlimited - from gait analysis, disease prescreening, stroke recovery, healthy aging, and a better understanding of the human brain. While doing this exciting research, I learn new things every day, work with intelligent young people, and help them grow. All these keep me excited and motivated.
The 2022 International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias. How do you support gender equity and #BreakTheBias in the engineering field?
I have been working on several things to support gender equality. 1) Be a role model. I have learned to speak up and share my opinions. I actively share my experiences and lessons learned in the past twenty years of being a female STEM professor. 2) Build a supportive environment. I have found and built various support groups, mostly among female STEM professionals in different career and life stages. We support each other and share tips and suggestions. 3) Mentor students and junior professionals. I am passionate about mentoring female students and professionals to support their career development and reach their dreams. 4) Combat conscious and unconscious biases. I have been educating myself and those around me about the importance, challenges, and good practices on gender equity.