Denise Koessler is working on the big picture.
An academic superstar from her undergraduate studies at Ohio’s College of Wooster (where she was also captain of the swim team), the native Knoxvillian is completing her doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science at UT on a National Science Foundation fellowship. Her research on how our online interactions leave behind unique identifiers that form a “social fingerprint” couldn’t be more timely—it’s already led to presentations at major conferences from San Diego to London and drawn the interest of such tech industry giants as Microsoft Research and Apple.
But nailing down her own success wasn’t enough for Koessler, who is slated to complete her PhD in the spring. She has also become a leader in addressing the underrepresentation of women in her field. In April 2013 she founded Systers: Women in EECS to recruit, mentor, and retain women in UT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Last fall Koessler participated in a conference sponsored by the Anita Borg Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on the advancement of women in computing. There it was announced that she had been selected to lead the “first and founding” ABI Lean In Circle.
The circles, established through a partnership between ABI and LeanIn.Org, bring together women who are pursuing or considering a technology career. UT’s circle, which started with seven students, now has more than sixty members from UT, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and other Knoxville-area tech organizations and businesses. Koessler is also working to launch a nonspecialized Lean In community for the UT campus.
Photo by Dustin Brown