January 6, 2020
Kartik Singhal was born and raised in Ghaziabad, India. He holds a bachelor of technology in computer science and engineering from the National Institute of Technology Calicut and a master of science in computer science from Brown University. He also worked as a software engineer at Oracle India. He is now in his third year of pursuing a doctorate in computer science at the University of Chicago. We interviewed him about his experiences below.
What have you been studying or researching as part of your program?
I study the design and verification of programming languages for quantum computing. I look for ways to expose useful abstractions specific to quantum computing as programming language features and come up with ways to make sure the programs we write for quantum computers are bug-free.
Why did you choose the University of Chicago?
I chose the University of Chicago for a few reasons:
- I found a good intersection of research interests with my advisor John Reppy.
- It was a chance to live in a big city like Chicago.
- The CS department here was growing (moving to a new building and hiring a lot of new faculty). My previous advisor at Brown suggested that it meant they wouldn’t be complacent like other big and famous CS schools and would be receptive to student voices and needs (my experience has been positive in this regard).
- Since the College at UChicago is a private liberal arts school, I thought it would be much like Brown, where I was exposed to new disciplines and people—an experience that helped me grow a lot as a person.
Please describe something you are proud of accomplishing at UChicago.
I helped start the volunteer organization in CS that represents PhD students’ interests to the department and helped build systems that lead to more interaction among CS PhD students who may not be in the same lab.
What’s something you love to do outside of the classroom and lab?
Biking (when the weather permits).
What are your plans post-UChicago?
I am not entirely sure yet. Perhaps industrial research or perhaps teaching, and there is always the fallback option of software positions in the tech industry. I am teaching an intro to CS course in Winter 2020, which will help me gauge whether I would enjoy teaching as a career.
If you were speaking to someone who wants to learn about UChicago, what would you tell them?
UChicago is full of opportunities like most other big schools; one needs to take an active role in seeking them.
How has your background or experience prepared you to contribute to an environment where diversity and inclusion are valued?
I went through several layers of exposure to a diversity of people in my life. I grew up in a relatively homogenous region in Northern India and then spent six years in Southern India: first as an undergrad in a national institute (with students from all states of a huge and diverse country with their own regional languages and customs) and then working in Bangalore where none of my immediate teammates or managers spoke my native tongue. This was then followed by these last four years in the US where I lived in three different states (Rhode Island, California for two summers, and Illinois) and was exposed to a diversity of people, languages, and viewpoints. At each of these stages of my life, I was in a leadership/mentoring role where I helped develop an environment where everyone’s voice was heard and respected.