USC PhD Profile: Fei Fang

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Fei Fang, a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science in the Viterbi School of Engineering, successfully defended her thesis this month and is about to accept a tenure-track Faculty position at Carnegie Mellon University! We caught up with Fei to congratulate her and do a short Q&A.

Did you hold any Fellowships while you were at USC, if so, how did that help you succeed in your studies and in your career?

Yes, I was a recipient of the WiSE Merit Fellowship in 2014. The Merit Fellowship is offered to PhD students at USC who demonstrate exceptional work in their field. Receiving the Fellowship was a great encouragement to me! I was in my third year, and I had finished two projects where I was a main contributor. My new project had just started and I was struggling to find the right direction and to make progress. Getting the Fellowship made me believe in the potential of my research and the new project resulted in a paper which won the Outstanding Paper Award at IJCAI’15 in Computational Sustainability!

What kind of support did you receive from USC?

I would like to give special thanks my committee members who gave me a lot of support and guidance, especially about my career path. After my qualifying exam, I talked to my committee members to get suggestions from them. They generously shared their experience with me about why they chose to stay in academia and how to build a research group. They provided me vision, which was super helpful to me.

What kind of advice would you give PhD students at USC so that they can be successful in their educational endeavors?

It is important to have a deep understanding of your own research topic but at the same time have broad knowledge of the general area of your research. Doing research is not like finishing homework or completing course projects, so be prepared to get stuck and keep trying different options. If you feel frustrated, take a deep breath under the sunshine and talk to your labmates and friends! You may get inspired! Keep doing good work, great opportunities are waiting for you!

About Fei Fang

Fei’s hometown is Changzhou, a city close to Shanghai, China. She received her undergraduate degree from Tsinghua University in July 2011 and then joined the CS Department at USC as a PhD student in August 2011. Fei would like to thank her advisor Milind Tambe and her dissertation committee members Shaddin Dughmi, Leana Golubchik, Jelena Mirkovic and Suvrajeet Sen for their support during her time at USC.