Past Member

Fernanda B. Viegas

Former Alumna, Sociable Media

PhD 2005
Senior Staff Research Scientist, Google Brain

After graduating from the Media Lab in 2005, Fernanda joined Martin Wattenberg at IBM Research and worked on democratizing interactive data visualization online. Our Many Eyes system was the first that allowed non-expert users to upload data and create cutting-edge interactive visualizations online without having to code. In 2010, Martin and Fernanda left IBM to create FlowingMedia, a visualization studio. Three months into their startup life, they were acquired by Google.  Currently, Fernanda co-leads the PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative at Google and the Big Picture data visualization group, part of Google Brain.

How did your experience at the Lab influence your next step?

My experience at the Lab was crucial for what came after grad school. It showed me the importance of (and the opportunity in) pursuing interdisciplinary work and prepared me to think about research questions from a number of different angles. It also prepared me to effectively present my work to just about anyone regardless of background and interest.

Be ambitious and tackle hard problems. Be in touch with academic and intellectual communities outside the Lab. Intern if you can.