Maritza Johnson began college as a math major when she was an undergraduate at the University of San Diego. She soon found her true interests lay elsewhere.
“The professor of my first programming class gave a lecture about a few different research areas in computer science,” says Johnson MS'08 PhD’11 CS. “The variety of interesting problems convinced me to switch from math to computer science.”
Johnson’s interests evolved into a focus on computer security, and was attracted to Computer Science at Columbia SEAS when she learned of the work faculty are doing on security research. She has already taken what she’s learned in the classroom and found ways to apply it as a volunteer and an intern.
Hometown: Imperial Beach, California
Undergraduate Degree: B.A. Computer Science 2008, University of San Diego
Favorite Band: Cross Canadian Ragweed
Favorite Movie: The Little Mermaid
Favorite spot in NYC: Running in Riverside Park
Hobbies: Yoga, traveling, scuba diving, cooking, and knitting
“As a member of a W3C standards group, I apply my knowledge of usable security toward creating advice for the display of security context information in Web browsers,” she says. “I also applied my research in usable security as an intern at Microsoft Research.”
The 24-year-old California native says her most memorable course thus far has been Computer Networks. Her best experience here, however, has been as a volunteer in the program “… Girls’ Science Day, a program organized by Women in Science at Columbia to bring middle school girls on campus for a day of experiments.”
Johnson anticipates that the skills she’s developed thus far will pay off in the long run.
“My experiences participating in various student groups have helped me become better at taking leadership roles and networking.”
They should come in handy pursuing her goal of becoming a professor of computer science.
Posted: Aug. 7, 2009