Simon Swenson

PhD Student

Office: GS 756

Interests: Machine learning and data visualization


I grew up in Boise, Idaho and was interested in computers from a young age. However, when it was time to choose a college, I still did not know what I wanted to study, but enjoyed learning in general, so I opted to attend a liberal arts college, Wheaton College, in the Chicago suburbs. It was there that the field of Computer Science entered the radar for me, and I earned a BS in Computer Science and Mathematics from Wheaton in 2015. After graduating and spending some time in industry in Chicago, I realized that industry was not the best fit for me at that point in my life. I returned to school at, thankfully, a warmer place: the University of Arizona. Even after just a semester, I am enjoying my time here. The research project that I am involved in is interesting, and the department is close-knit, similar to Wheaton.

​​​​​Research Interests

My love of the liberal arts and learning has never left me. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult to specialize, as I find many things interesting! I am currently working on a computer vision project, but I could see myself involved in many different research areas.

What long-term project do you want to work on?

My current project, involving predicting changing geological formations, is full of interesting and difficult research questions. I suspect that it will become a long-term project if I continue to work on it. Otherwise, I have not been here long enough to learn about the breadth of the different research projects available in the department. In my computer vision seminar, I learned of a new project that several machine learning faculty want to start: a project involving differentiating ill shrimp from healthy shrimp. That sounds like an interesting research project.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy the interdisciplinary nature of it and the clear goal that it tries to solve: identifying changing rock formations. While computer science in a vacuum is interesting, the more interesting aspect of it, for me, is when it can be used in the context of other fields in more concrete applications. Usually, those specific applications end up being useful in other domains, as well.

What are your career goals?

Part of my motivation to return to school was the feeling that industry was not the best fit for me. Though that could change, I see myself more likely staying in academia for now, becoming a post-doc and, then, hopefully, a professor.

​​​​Tell us something interesting about yourself!

I enjoy hiking, the outdoors, forests, and mountains. Tucson is the perfect place for that. The city is surrounded by mountains. Many of them have pine forests at the higher elevations. In the desert surrounding the city, you can find interesting desert plants, like saguaro cacti, and creatures, like javelinas.