Grad Moms: Meet Krithika

Say hello to Krithika, a graduate student and mother who is pursing a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Stony Brook University! Keep reading to learn more about her work on computer and electronic safety as well as the advice she has for new moms!

EDUCATION: M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Stony Brook University

CURRENT RESEARCH: Fun fact: There are literally 250 million battery disposals a day! What do I do? : Harvesting ambient energy to power electronic devices is gaining a lot of momentum over battery powered devices.My team has designed an encryption circuit using a novel energy harvesting technique and my research work in specific focuses on making this hardware trusted and secure from getting hacked.
FUTURE GOALS: Be a major contributor to make technology safe and secure for people to use by joining organizations such as the NSA. Just aiming 🙂

What/who got you interested in your field? Is there a story involved?

I have always been a very curious kid, right from my childhood days. I used to question the working of everything around me (infact, my friends used to called me Ms. Doubtfire :)). This naturally made me choose science as an elective in high school. I had an excellent Physics teacher and his lessons on electrical circuits were my favorite. As it is said “The influence of a good teacher can never be erased” , that led me into choosing Electronics and communications as my undergraduate major at the end of which, I was one among 3 to secure an internship in the field of circuit designing at International Business Machines (IBM). Starting from cellphones to tablets to TV to even trash cans, the applications of electronic circuits are endless. Every single day of my career I have been awe-struck by how billions of tiny transistors in each of these devices work hand in hand to make the world a better place to live in.

What do you think needs to happen for there to be more women in science?

To encourage working women, I personally feel that there should be more support and encouragement coming from organizations in general to support women during pregnancy and after by providing subsidized daycare centres at or close to the workplace, rest areas specially for pregnant women, organizing support groups etc.

For more women to be in STEM fields, I feel that present women in STEM should do more outreach to middle or high school girls, explaining what their day to day work is like so as to kindle their interests to join science and engineering majors.

Presenting a poster in Virginia. First time away from my daughter for a whole day. (Was literally a flying visit!)

How do you think that society can be more supportive and less discriminatory of mothers and would be mothers in the workplace?

First and foremost, it is very important for mothers to get adequate rest post-delivery, before returning to work. Pregnancy is like a rebirth to mothers. It is very sad that a lot of workplaces give only 6 weeks of maternity leave. I really hope that moms get at least 6 months of maternity leave.

Has becoming a mother changed your work experiences or how you feel about your work/academia?

I have realised that managing time is much more critical when you are a mother because it is not possible to work in the evenings and during weekends at home, when my baby is awake. So, I try to organize and prioritize my work better using apps such as Evernote which is very helpful.

What university or community resources have you used during pregnancy and after?

  • Childbirth Accommodation Policy (CAP) was very helpful in providing financial support during pregnancy
  • Free childbirth classes at Stony Brook University Hospital was very helpful to learn about labour and delivery.
  • Free Breastfeeding support group directed by the SBU Hospital that meets once a week was helpful when I had some nursing concerns.
  • Breastpump provided free of charge through insurance company was a saviour too.
My daughter reviewing my lecture notes with a carrot in her hand 😀

What does a typical work day, look like in your current life?

My typical schedule includes taking care of my baby from morning to afternoon and I start working in the afternoon till late evening. I work on running massive simulations and writing computer programs to hack an encryption hardware. I also do research with the underlying electronic circuits to safeguard them from adversary attacks.

Do you have any tips or advice for anyone that wants to start a family in academia? Is there anything you wish you knew before becoming a mom?

The most important advantage of having a family when you are still a student is we have very flexible schedules, especially when you finish all your coursework.  

Taking care of a baby is really fun and rewarding but at the same time exhausting so, it is challenging to stay motivated to finish your Ph.D. and manage everything well.

Author: sbugwise

We are the Graduate Women in Science and Engineering group at Stony Brook University and we are dedicated to supporting women in STEM fields.

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