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Communications of the ACM

Career Paths in Computing

A Computer Scientist with a Biologist's Ambition: Advance Humanity

Juji co-founder and CEO Michelle Zhou

Credit: Dean Takahashi

When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a writer like Tolstoy or Agatha Christie—until I got my first period. I realized then that women must endure much more pain than men to fulfill the human reproduction responsibilities. So, I wanted to become a geneticist who could make men pregnant to share the pain with women. My "ambition" was shattered when I was rejected by the biology department of the university I applied to. Instead, I became a computer science student without ever having seen a computer before.

Initially, I wasn't fond of computer science. The turning point came when I was studying for a master's degree at Michigan State University. Lionel Ni sponsored me to develop a graphical user interface (GUI) for power management, while the late Carl Page taught me artificial intelligence (AI) and advised me on two AI projects. I loved the dynamic nature and instant gratification of building graphical user interfaces and was attracted to the magic of AI. After completing these projects, I was determined to pursue a Ph.D. to develop AI to create GUIs in support of better human-computer interaction (HCI).


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