Never underestimate the power of sibling rivalry. One of the newest scholars to come out of USC Marshall’s Data Sciences and Operations Dept., Negin Golrezaei Ph.D. ’17, cites it as an early reason she did so well in math as a child.
“I was passionate for math and numbers even when I was very young,” she says. Proud aunties reminded her that at the age of three she could count to 1,000.
Growing up in Tehran, her older sister attended the top technical school. “I forced my parents to let me go to school early so I can keep up with my sister,” says Golrezaei. “Along the way I realized that I could keep up, and in fact, that I am enjoying math.”
She went on to earn her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the Sharif University of Technology in Iran, where for her undergraduate work she ranked first in cumulative GPA. In 2011 she was offered the Provost’s Ph.D. Fellowship to USC's Viterbi School of Engineering.
Given its worldwide reputation, Golrezaei arrived eagerly at Viterbi. There she studied mechanism design, machine learning and optimization algorithms. But she increasingly grew interested in the practical applications of her research.
“I attended a workshop by Amazon, and I hadn't realized people in business were doing this technical stuff," she says. "I realized there is a need for new research in the areas I’ve been studying. It was fascinating to me!” After a year and a half at Viterbi, she applied to USC Marshall's Dept. of Data Sciences and Operations, and found her home.
Not surprisingly, given her deep technical expertise, she has interned with Google—twice—and will be finishing up a project for the company by way of a one-year post-doc. "I designed a new model for online auctions in display advertising," she explains, simplifying it for a non-technical inquirer.
By the Numbers
Golrezaei officially earned her doctorate in a hooding ceremony held Thursday, May 11. As with her undergraduate record, she was an academic standout at USC Marshall.
For her remarkable academic achievements, including two journal papers, she was honored with the 2017 USC Ph.D. Achievement Award, a distinction given to only six doctoral candidates campus-wide.
She also received the CAMS prize for excellence in research with a substantial mathematical component. That little girl who could count to 1,000 at 3-years-old? She is still very, very good with numbers.
Dr. Golrezaei will be an assistant professor of operations management at the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2018 (after her one-year post-doc at Google Inc. in New York City.) Her husband, Sajjad Beygi, also a new Ph.D. in engineering from Viterbi, will join her.