6 out of 200: Promoting women in computer science
Meet Omowunmi Isafiade in this Q&A series with 6 out of 200 computer scientists and mathematicians participating at the 3rd Heidelberg Laureate Forum, August 23–28, 2015. 26 Laureates (Abel Prize, Fields Medal, Nevanlinna Prize, Turing Award) will attend the forum together with them. For a full week Heidelberg in Germany will be the hot spot of mathematics and computer science.
Name? Omowunmi Isafiade
Where are you based? South Africa
What is your current position? PhD Candidate at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa
What is the focus of your research? Most cities in the world today have to face diverse challenges – notably crime issues. It is widely recognized that a “safe and secured” environment is critical for promoting a sustainable “smart city”. I am using a crime data mining approach for improved public safety outcomes.
Public safety and security agencies archive a great deal of crime information. These can be explored for a knowledge driven decision support. Hence a crime mining solution approach can assist security and public safety organizations to channel their resources in an optimal fashion, in order to achieve a focused and effective crime prevention strategy. This can promote the idea of a “safe and smart city“.
What are you passionate about? I am very passionate about mentoring the younger generation, especially in the area of science and mathematics education. I am also passionate about using my skills in helping to dismantle barriers that keep women and minorities from entering science and technology fields.
This means, I am the co-founder of the Digit_inspire Foundation and also very much involved in promoting women in computer science in my current affiliation/institution. There we organize events and talks to create a continuous motivation for encouraging more women to get involved in computer science, a field largely dominated by male. Thus, I am co-founder and co-chair of the Women in CS Society, that supports female students, arranges talks by female IT role models, etc
Why did you become a computer scientist? Computers used to be very expensive and scarce in my home country. Gradually, however, I realized that computer science is a field that is used in virtually every domain of life, from health to public safety to finance. Computer science steadily became my hobby, and my hope is that pursuing a degree in this field can provide me with the knowledge and skills required to bring changes to some of the challenges facing humanity.
What about your life beyond research? I love playing table-tennis, designing and enjoys singing as well, as such I am a member of the choir in my church.
Why did you apply for the HLF15? HLF15 is such a fantastic platform. I look forward to meet and interact with the world’s brightest minds and laureates. This will not only create a continuous motivation, but will also be an amazing, exciting and inspiring experience. And not at least the forum is an opportunity to network with great minds of scientists, at different stages of their career, in order to uncover new opportunities and develop valuable relationships.
Any Laureates on your list you would definitely love to talk to? My very first “move” would have been to speak to a female laureate but unfortunately it appears this year no female laureate will make it to Heidelberg. However, it would be interesting to know what has thus far been the major driver behind these Laureates’ success and/or achievements, in spite of the challenges some of them might have faced at some point in life. I really haven’t picked any name yet….
Wish you an inspiring time in Heidelberg!