Tanya Berger-Wolf

Professor of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Chicago; Co-founder and Director, Wildbook.org

Dr. Tanya Berger-Wolf is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she heads the Computational Population Biology Lab. As a computational ecologist, her research is at the unique intersection of computer science, wildlife biology, and social sciences. She creates computational solutions to address questions such as how environmental factors affect the behaviors of social animals (humans included). Berger-Wolf is also a co-founder of the conservation software non-profit Wildbook, which recently enabled the first-of-its-kind complete species census of the endangered Grevy's zebra, using photographs taken by ordinary citizens in Kenya. As a legitimate part of her research she gets to fly in a super-light airplane over a nature preserve in Kenya, taking a hyper-stereo video of zebra populations.

Dr. Berger-Wolf changed continents for every degree: she was born and grew up in Vilnius, Lithuania, attended highschool in St. Petersburg, Russia, received her dual major (math and computer science) from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, and, finally, her Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has received numerous awards for her research and mentoring, the US National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Association for Women in Science Chicago Innovator Award, and the UIC Mentor of the Year Award.

Dr. Berger-Wolf was always interested in math (her parents claim a statement at the age of 5) but came to computational ecology thanks to her husband, and ecologist, and his colleagues, who were asking questions and made her think of innovative answers.


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