Dr. Mijung Park speaks about her interview process with UBC Computer Science (UBC CS) for the role of Assistant Professor, as though it was a dream.
“I wasn’t sure if it had actually happened or not! In the mornings during the process, I would wake up and wonder if it was a dream instead of reality. I had to pinch myself.”
With an infectious smile and laugh, Mijung elaborated this was actually because the interviews were held across three consecutive late nights for her, thanks to her time zone in Germany.
“I had interviews with four or five different people each night, three nights in a row,” she said. Perhaps the late-night interview process was more like a nightmare than a dream… but no matter. Mijung was ecstatic to land the job.
“UBC is such a great university,” she said. “I had already met some extremely accomplished researchers in the Computer Science department when I attended the NeurIPS conference in Vancouver back in 2019. Dr. Frank D. Wood and Dr. Mark Schmidt were both in attendance, and I was just so impressed with the work they were both conducting at UBC.”
Mijung let them know she would soon be looking for another job because her 5-year contract in Germany with Max Planck Intelligent Systems and the University of Tübingen (funded by the Cyber Valley initiative) was coming to an end. She applied for the UBC CS Assistant Professor position that same year, and the interview process was conducted in April 2020. Upon her successful candidacy, Mijung and UBC CS agreed on a deferred start date of this summer.
“I will begin by teaching an undergrad machine learning course in January 2022, and I am building a grad course about privacy-preserving machine learning for the fall of 2022,” she said. “I am very excited to be working in Canada!” she said.
Home is where the heart is
Mijung has studied and worked in more than one or two countries. After completing her undergrad in Electrical and Computer Engineering in Korea (Mijung’s birthplace), she completed an MSc in Engineering and her PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas Austin. She interned in the US for Amazon, was a research associate in England at University College London and prior to that, in the Netherlands at the University of Amsterdam. Most recently Mijung was a research group leader in Germany for Max Planck Institute.
And yet, Mijung has always had an affinity for North America. “I wanted to return to North America, but I did not necessarily want to return to the US. The competition is so high there to get funding dollars for research. In Canada, you have funding support like CIFAR. I actually had an interview with the University of Toronto years ago, and it gave me a very good impression of research in Canada. Academic positions here are very appealing and in high demand,” she said.
Mijung’s area of research focus is algorithms to preserve privacy while analyzing data through machine learning. “Vancouver truly is an up and coming force in this area,” Mijung said. “By joining this force, I am so excited to direct and enhance the future of this very important aspect of computing.”