Enhancing the Learning Experience of Mathematics and Statistics for Non-specialist University Students
Lucy alumna Dr Meena Mehta Kotecha talks about her multidisciplinary career and journey between mathematical sciences and education
Lucy Alumna, Sandrine Müller, talks about her research, her time at Lucy, and her work at Google.
How did you end up working at Google? What did you study?
I grew up with a French mother and a German father (and a little brother) in the North of Germany, where my family had a catering service. After high school, I enrolled in a dual university program, studying for a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration while gaining work experience and vocational certification. The studies and work experience really piqued my interest with regards to, for example, group dynamics and relationships in the workplace, and understanding motivations and experiences of customers and employees, but didn't even begin to answer all the questions I had, so I ultimately went back to university to study psychology. I did an MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology, followed by a PhD in Psychology - both while being at Lucy. In my PhD work, I used smartphone sensor data to study human behaviour. In particular, I examined how mobility patterns (e.g. The places people visit, their daily routines, distance travelled, etc.) can inform our understanding of personality and mental health. During my PhD, I did an internship with Disney Research, research visits to UT Austin and Stanford University, and got to attend numerous national and international conferences. After completing my PhD, I did postdoctoral training at the Data Science Institute at Columbia University, after which I joined Google in New York City, where I now work as a Quantitative User Experience Researcher.
What inspired you to pursue this career?
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with wanting to understand people's behaviours and motivations. I discovered my love for research while at Cambridge, and am particularly fascinated with the unique opportunities new technologies are offering us for understanding people and improving their lives. I believe that there is a lot of opportunity for good and that everyone should benefit from the advances of technology. I'm hoping to keep building on my experiences to contribute to this vision.
What have been the best and worst moments of your study or career so far?
By far the best have been the people - I feel very lucky to have met and worked with some incredibly interesting, talented, and driven people. I'm so grateful for all the friends I have made along the way. It was actually one of my housemates from Cambridge who referred me to my current job! And on the other end - Saying goodbye can be really tough - to people, to places, to stages of life. I guess we always keep memories, but it can be scary to feel them fade and to wish to be able to bring back something that is gone.
Why did you choose Lucy Cavendish College?
I come from a non-academic background, which made studying (especially abroad and at an institution with so many unique traditions and such a long history as Cambridge) daunting. Lucy always felt welcoming, everyone there was always very approachable, and it felt like having a family away from home. I joined the rowing team at Lucy for multiple terms, which was great fun. I also loved to have lunch in college and go to formal halls. My favourite spot on the college campus was always that little reading nook on the very top floor of the library overlooking the college gardens. It's the cosiest spot with the most gorgeous views at any time of the day and at any season.
Lucy supported my studies with the Lord Frederick Cavendish Scholarship, which covered my fees, and awarded me two travel grants to attend and present at the main conference in my field. In addition, I received a maintenance scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, as well as fieldwork funding from the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge. When I returned to Cambridge for my viva, I got to stay on campus for a week, which was really nice too.