Graduate Student Spotlight: Toluwanimi Odemuyiwa

Ph.D. Student, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Toluwanimi Odemuyiwa

This spotlight is a part of our 2023 International Women's Day Feature.

What inspired you to study engineering? Describe your path to graduate studies at UC Davis. 

Inspired by my parents who have backgrounds in chemical and biological research, I always thought I would be a medical doctor who also did research in microbiology. Then, in grade 10, I took an online course in Java programming and immediately fell in love with how I could use logic to solve problems. For undergrad, I decided to go with the engineering science program at the University of Toronto, where I planned to specialize in biomedical engineering. After taking a robotics class, a digital systems class, and a computer architecture class, I realized I was really interested in computer systems. This led to me specializing in electrical and computer engineering. After I graduated, I worked for two years as a verification engineer at Microsemi/Microchip, while also doing a master’s program to help me better learn the skills I needed for the job. At work, I realized the folks with Ph.D. degrees seemed to be doing really interesting things: exploring new architecture designs, trying out new ISAs, etc. I decided I wanted a career where I could explore new things. Cue my decision to pursue a Ph.D.! I chose UC Davis as the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering had a great variety of professors and a great connection to Silicon Valley. 

Highlight your current research. What do you love about it, why are you excited, and how do you stay motivated? 

I’ve started exploring new ways to express graph algorithms in the language of sparse tensor algebra. Graph algorithms are the foundation of several applications, and fundamentally help us compute on anything that can be represented as a network of connections. Expressing graphs as sparse tensor algebra will enable us to leverage existing work in that area for faster graph algorithms. 

The 2023 International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity. How do you embrace equity in the engineering field? 

I embrace equity through mentorship! I am where I am today because of those who have encouraged me along the way. Through mentorship, I can pay that forward. 

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