Profile of a Female Scientist: An Interview with Chrysanthe Preza

By Gale Mamatova

Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Ring Professor of Engineering
Principal Investigator, Computational Imaging Research Lab.

Mamatova: Chrysanthe, thank you very much for agreeing to participate in our MWOSA Interviews. Can you tell me a little about your professional experiences, and how you have shaped your interest in Electrical and Computer Engineering?

Preza: As a first year graduate student I was fortunate to be involved as a research assistant in the computational optical sectioning microscopy project at the Institute for Biomedical Computing at Washington University in St. Louis. My experiences through this project have made a huge impact on my research interests to formulate and solve accurate forward and inverse imaging problems for microscopy.

Mamatova: That sounds like an interesting career path. Did you have a mentor that guided you? Can you tell me a little about how a mentor has been a professional and/or academic assistance to you as you've strived to fulfill your career goals?

Preza: Yes, I have been fortunate to have mentors guide me through decisions that I had to make in my career. My mentors are more experienced than me and have been very successful in their careers. Being able to talk about difficult situations or new opportunities that come along my way and to get my mentor's perspective is very important to me.

Mamatova: I see that you've participated in education outreach initiatives in the past. Why do you believe supporting these types of efforts is important?

Preza: Outreach initiatives are part of what I do as an educator and mentor. They provide a mechanism to raise awareness about Science and Engineering and women's active involvement in these fields.

Mamatova: What inspires you the most about your research?

Preza: Visualization of microorganisms in new ways could lead to new understanding of fundamental biological mechanisms that would inform not only basic science but also disease diagnosis, drug development and ultimately disease treatment. Developing new imaging technologies to enable this visualization and study is what inspires my research.

Mamatova: What are some of your research interests?

Preza: Integrating novel optics and computational methods to develop new imaging techniques for biomedical imaging.

Mamatova: How did you discover the science of Optics and what fascinates you the most?

Preza: My involvement in the interdisciplinary computational optical sectioning microscopy project required understanding better both basic and advanced optics. I have always been fascinated by our ability to capture information about an object/scene with different types of images through the interaction of the object/scene with light and computational optical sensors.

Mamatova: What are some difficulties or challenges you've had to face and/or currently face being a minority in your field?

Preza: Balancing teaching, doing research and serving at the Department, College and University level is more challenging for minority faculty. For example, because I am the only female faculty in my academic department, I am asked to serve on many committees for diversity purposes.

Mamatova: What advice would you give to other aspiring female scientists?

Preza: Find a mentor whose opinion and advice you can trust. Accept help from others when you need it.

Mamatova: Thank you for your time and insights!