Meet the Intern: Somaye Farhadi Discusses Hyperspectral Imaging and Her Journey to PARC

Somaye, please tell us about your background.

My background is in physics. I studied soft condensed matter physics, which is the study of soft materials such as colloids or gels. My Ph.D. thesis focused on granular (grain-like) materials. It’s important to understand their physics, because they can be used for many different applications.

What or who inspired you to get into the field of physics?

I was born in Iran and a huge inspiration and role model for me was Iranian mathematician, Maryam Mirzakhani. She was the only woman to ever win the Fields Medal, which is the most prestigious honor in mathematics. She inspired me to pursue a career in math and physics.

What project are you currently working on at PARC?

During my internship, I’m working in the area of optics and remote sensing, with a focus on hyperspectral imaging technology. The technology captures the full optical spectrum at each point of an image. This allows us to gain a great deal of information about an object’s material or chemical composition in a very short amount of time. I’m working on building a compact camera for this technology that can be used for motion-based imaging. I’m also working on the algorithm to extract the spectral information from raw images, which can be used for many different applications.

What types of applications would hyperspectral imaging technology be used for?

This technology has many different applications. For example, it could be used in agriculture to detect defects in crops. In the case of motion-based imaging, this technology could be used for drone or satellite applications, as well as for conveyor inspection systems in manufacturing.

How did you arrive at an internship with PARC?

You might consider my internship at PARC to be somewhat unconventional, in that I am not currently a student. I actually obtained my Ph.D. in early 2013 and held subsequent postdoctoral positions in academia.  

Last year I decided that I wanted to transition to a new field and try something completely different. I had previously applied for a permanent position at PARC which didn’t work out. Later, PARC contacted me about the hyperspectral imaging internship, which appealed to me. Although I had done a lot of image processing in the past, the optical component was completely new to me. I am very excited to be working on this project. I’ve learned so much since joining PARC this summer.

What do enjoy most about your internship?

I like the fact that there is a lot of application-based research here at PARC. I feel that I am working on state-of-the art technology that can have significant commercial impact. I also like the fact that I am able to interact with smart and talented people.

Where do you see your career in the next 5-10 years?

I want to start my own business. I’m interested in data-driven advancements in technology like machine learning. I also enjoy the role of mentoring and management. I would like to be at the intersection of these two and find my niche.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I really enjoy hiking and reading. 

What are you reading at the moment?

Right now, I’m reading Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre.

Find out more about PARC’s current internship opportunities.

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