Choosing electrical engineering as an undergraduate, Audrey Bowden knew it would give her a strong technical foundation to be successful in any career. Combining her EE foundation with optics and biomedical engineering has resulted in her ideal environment. Today, Audrey's teaching and research reflects her commitment and passion to address critical societal challenges.
What made you decide to be a professor, and what made you want to be at Stanford?
Sometimes you just feel called to do something specific with your life — for me, becoming a professor (at Stanford) was exactly that. Unlike many people, I didn't go into graduate school knowing I wanted to be a professor; in fact, I spent a lot of time in graduate school exploring other careers. But when I came to the end of my PhD program, a series of personal events convinced me that this is what I was meant to do with my life. That sense of destiny is really meaningful and motivating for me, so here I am! I honestly wouldn't be doing this job at anywhere else but Stanford. In fact, it's the only school that I applied to.
How did you choose your field of research?
Ever since high school, I knew I wanted to do something related to health and biomedical research. I originally chose electrical engineering for my major as an undergraduate because I knew it would give me a strong technical foundation to be successful in any future career. Some time during my sophomore and junior year I discovered optics and thought it was really neat. In graduate school I studied biomedical engineering, which allowed me to apply optics to addressing problems in medicine. It was the perfect pairing, and I haven't looked back since.
Who has influenced your work and why.
I've been influenced by so many people throughout my life, especially my advisors and mentors. Their encouragement to do good work and to think outside the box has really shaped the types of problems I'm interested in and the solutions we propose in my group. That said, the work my group does is also strongly influenced by my students. Their youthful passion and enthusiasm is refreshing, and students are full of great ideas and have lots of energy to tackle hard things. That's part of what's so great about being at Stanford.
Briefly explain a project you are currently working on.
One project we are working on relates to diagnosis of skin cancer. Using a light-based technique for imaging skin, we have developed new algorithms that can automatically classify images as healthy or cancerous. We hope these results will help improve the early detection rates and cancer outcomes.
What advice do you have for new EE students?
Go to office hours! Professors at Stanford are eager to engage with students. Even if you don't have a question about homework or lecture, feel free to stop by and see us... making connections with faculty and others at Stanford will be helpful for your future career.
Audrey Bowden in the News:
May 2016 Robust Dipstick Test
June 2016 Teaching Prize
May 2015 Student Recognition