Graduate Spotlight: Siddharth Khullar

College of Science

Siddharth Khullar

Siddharth “Sid” Khullar never lets an opportunity pass, especially if it’s bound to push him out of his “research comfort zone.”

Khullar befriended and embraced the concept of risk as an integral part of education and research. His successes enrich the doctoral degree he will receive this May from the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

Momentum from a string of positive research opportunities has positioned Khullar to stretch his imagination as an employee at one of the world’s most famous corporations. Earlier this year, he knocked on the window of his dream job at Microsoft and the window opened wide.

Khullar joined Microsoft’s Computational User Experiences group in January as a post-doctoral researcher. The team applies machine learning, visualization, mobile computing, sensors and devices to advance human-computer interaction, health care, home technologies and computer-assisted creativity. He worked closely with the same group during an internship last summer.

“I definitely think my internship at Microsoft helped convince me that this was the place, team and organization I wanted to start my career at,” Khullar says.

He arrived at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Wash., after finishing a fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab where he and a select group of graduate students applied imaging solutions to societal problems. Khullar’s team developed an award-winning mobile imaging device for diagnosing eye diseases that impressed the researchers at Microsoft and segued into his internship and introduction to the company.

Fast-forward to January and Khullar’s grueling two-day marathon job interview at Microsoft. He gave a presentation to a room full of researchers and stayed sharp through 11 one-on-one interviews.

“I call this a dream job because I can work on whatever I want,” he says. “Stepping out of the ‘research comfort zone’ involves taking a lot of risk, especially at the beginning of a career, and I hope it works for me. If it doesn’t, well there are a million other problems to solve. I’ll continue to step out. I’m confident that I’ll solve at least one big one through this lifetime.”