Center for Advanced Computation and Telecommunications

Dr. Rahul Sen '87

Interview with Dr. Rahul Sen ’87 Director at BlackRock

Rahul Sen is an alumnus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), graduating with his PhD. in Engineering Science. Rahul conducted his PhD dissertation under the advisement of Professor Charles Thompson’s. Rahul was Professor Thompson’s first PhD student and CACT’s first Post Doctoral Fellow. He is a former Boeing research scientist, conducting modeling and experimental work in acoustics, wave propagation and fluid mechanics. After concluding his tenure at Boeing, Rahul entered the financial services arena as an Associate Director of Risk Management at Quellos Capital Management and continued on to become the first vice-president of home loans risk management at Washington Mutual Bank (JP Morgan Chase). Rahul is currently a Director at BlackRock (Seattle, Washington), the world’s largest asset manager with over $4.77 trillion in assets under management. He assist, trains, and advises clients on fixed income analytics covering credit, rates, inflation, structured products, and derivatives.


1. How did you break into your field?

I more or less wandered into acoustics. For my Masters I was looking for a research project in marine hydrodynamics, but happened to get a start in an ocean acoustics project. That got me into wave propagation and scattering, and after my MS I was kind of hooked. Charles had just started an acoustics group and computer lab at Virginia Tech, and I was among the first group of students who joined the lab.


2. How has your research experience aided your career?

 In Charles’ lab the work culture encouraged hands-on discovery, experimentation, and learning. I think we all got in the habit of keeping an open mind about following where a research problem logically took us – you could call it getting comfortable with getting outside your comfort zone. And there was always a hands-on culture – if it’s not available, build it. There was also great collaboration all around, so you ended up learning lots of things from everybody in the lab. I think these are key research habits, and I can say that they’ve stayed with me and probably all other graduates of the lab through different career phases.


3. What advice would you give current lab students?

Pretty much what we learnt in the lab: keep an open mind and definitely don’t miss out on getting your hands dirty and building whatever the research problem calls for, whether it’s code, math, hardware: it’s great learning.

Dr. Sylvia Isler '96

Dr. Sylvia K. Isler, VP of Architecture VM Turbo

Dr. Isler a CACT alumnus, was selected to receive the 2003 Francis Cabot Lowell Young Alumnae Award. Dr. Isler was a senior software engineer at Mathsoft, Inc. At MathSoft, Dr. Isler developed graphics and image-processing software, and was a lead developer of S-PLUS, MathSoft’s computational engine for statistics for Unix Systems. Dr. Isler joined MathSoft as a research scientist in 1996. In 2000 she became the Vice President of Software development for Kodiex Inc. Dr. Isler also worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories and was a recipient of the prestigous Bell Laboratories Cooperative Research Fellowship. Dr. Isler earned a BS in computer science for Hampton University in 1989, a MS in computer science in 1993 from the University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in computer science in 1996 from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell