In today’s episode we are joined by Liz Liddy, a professor and dean at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. Liz recounts her journey through tech, academia and entrepreneurship as well as her fascination with natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning.
Liz began her career as an academic librarian but became increasingly frustrated with search engines and their inability to connect the user with what they were looking for. Liz’s curiosity for search led her back to school to get her PhD in linguistics. She soon founded her own search engine company, motivated in part by her entrepreneurial brothers who teased her for being the most educated but the poorest!
The startup Liz founded improved search and connected users with sources not only by specific keywords, but also by overall meaning. Her company operated within the university and grew to over 50 people, serving clients such as the US Patent Office and various governmental intelligence agencies. But Liz soon got bored coming out with ‘new versions of the same product’ and decided instead to open a NLP research center.
Liz became dean of Syracuse’s iSchool in 2008 where her impact has been monumental in inspiring others and increasing overall enrollment. She believes online learning is the future of education and projects that popularity will continue to grow, especially in graduate schools.
This episode cements one of our common themes in the Develomentor podcast: the need for mentorship and support to perform at your best in any career! Liz found important mentors in her lecturers Jeff Katzer and Raymond VonDran. She says that these critical relationships helped her develop ideas and were essential in shaping her career.