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Dr. Mariane R. Petraglia graduated (Magna Cum Laude) in Electrical Engineering with emphasis in Electronics from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in 1985. She obtained the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1988 and 1991, respectively. She is a Professor at the Department of Electronic Engineering at the Polytechnic School and at the Electrical Engineering Department (PEE), COPPE, of UFRJ, which she joined in 1993, having been Academic Coordinator at PEE in 2008-2009 and in 2018-2020. She was a visiting researcher at the Adaptive Systems Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2001, and at the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California in 2014. She served as associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing in 2005-2006 and in 2019-2021, and as reviewer for IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems, Electronics Letters, Signal Processing, among others. She participated in organizing committees of the Chip in Rio 2007 and ICA 2009 conferences. She has supervised 40 M.Sc. theses and 15 D.Sc. dissertations in different areas of Signal Processing. She has also developed projects in the field of computer vision inspection for Brazilian Petroleum Company (Petrobras) and General Electric (GE) (research center, Rio de Janeiro). She was honored for her professional career by the IEEE SPS Chapter and IEEE Women in Engineering at Unicamp in 2015. She is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Society, and a Senior Member of the IEEE. Her main research areas are adaptive filtering, multirate processing, blind source separation, and computer vision.
1. Why did you choose to become faculty in the field of Signal Processing?
After graduating from UFRJ, I went to Santa Barbara, California, to accompany my husband, who was starting his doctorate. The following year, after preparing for the entrance exams, I also joined the Signal and Image Processing Laboratory of UCSB, to pursue a doctorate under the supervision of Dr. Sanjit K. Mitra. The support of the Brazilian government and of Prof. Mitra were essential for us to do the doctorate. I was fortunate to choose the area of signal processing, which involves mathematics and analytical reasoning, which I always liked to study. When I returned to Brazil, after completing my doctorate, I was invited by Prof. Jacques Szczupack, who had been the first student mentored by Prof. Mitra, to teach at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RJ). Despite my shyness, I really enjoyed transmitting the knowledge acquired in my doctorate and carrying out research. The following year, I applied to become a professor at UFRJ.
2. How does your work affect society?
I believe that my greatest contribution is in the training of qualified personnel in Electrical and Computer Engineering in Brazil, where there is a shortage of qualified labor. Several alumni work in cutting-edge technology companies in Brazil, USA, Canada, and Europe. Others became academics at Universities in Brazil. I also believe that my teaching and research trajectory helps to encourage female students to dedicate themselves to a technological career. The development of projects for companies brings improvements to society, through increased productivity and revenue.
3. What challenges have you had to face to get to where you are today?
In my undergraduate studies, there was a very small number of female students in the class. There was a thought that "feeling" was necessary to understand circuit design and develop computer programs. Later I came to understand that such a feeling is gained with study and experience, which many male colleagues had more for having studied in technical high schools. During my teaching and research career, I have often found myself at a disadvantage as having the primary responsibility for raising my two children, despite my husband sharing much of the effort. Also in the meetings, I felt less empowered to debate with male colleagues, who were the vast majority. I believe that today women are more aware of their potential and seek to have greater influence on the direction of their work.
4. What advice would you give to scientists/engineers in signal processing?
I would recommend engineers in signal processing, especially women, to believe in their learning potential, in order not to be discouraged when they do not understand some new topic necessary for the development of their work. I always remind my students that they are being introduced to the subject for the first time, and that maturity in the presented content comes with dedication to studies. For researchers in signal processing, I suggest looking for topics and applications that are important to them, and for unconventional approaches to problems. I also recommend valuing diversity in the workplace, with respect to gender, race, and culture, which adds different views and experiences to the project.
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