Faculty Highlight: Dr. Tamara Bonaci, Khoury College of Computer Sciences

For January’s intersession, Khoury College’s teaching assistant professor in Seattle, Dr. Tamara Bonaci, was motivated by pop-culture and sci-fi. Dr. Bonaci grew up in Europe, in beautiful Croatia. Prior to moving to the Pacific Northwest, she lived in Vancouver, BC. As a former international student herself, she often did not pick up on pop-culture references.

Dr. Bonaci teaches a couple of Align courses, CS 5002: Discrete and Data Structures as well as CS 5004: Object-Oriented Design. In addition, she has a sequence of security and privacy graduate-level courses that she teaches, including CY 5770: Software Vulnerabilities and Security and CS 6770: Introduction to Privacy Engineering. 

When we’re teaching and empowering the next generation of computer scientists, software engineers, and people focused on technology in some way, we want to make them aware that the technology has impact on people’s lives, both good and bad. We want to make them aware of potential dangers…It seemed to me that science fiction might be exactly the way to go because it allows us to think about all these super technologies that we don’t have yet – or maybe are just about to have.”  

– Dr. Tamara Bonaci 

As a teaching assistant professor on our Seattle campus, Dr. Bonaci gets to interact and collaborate with many amazing students, through classes, mentoring, and various research projects.  She designed a course that blended popular science fiction, everything from Star Wars, to Stark Trek, to The Matrix, Ex Machina, and Black Mirror, in order to help students, talk about privacy, fairness, and access. She wanted to create a space where she was not talking at the students about the possibilities of technology but instead discuss emerging technologies and ask pointed questions to help develop critical thinking skills, all under the sci-fi context. 

Dr. Bonaci’s focus is on privacy engineering and brings a unique perspective to Northeastern Seattle students with her technical background and experience working in interdisciplinary research labs. Privacy issues have continued to lead her research with her newest research topic focusing on fitness activity trackers and the privacy implications of COVID-19 shifting our exercising and other healthy habits to the virtual world. Dr. Bonaci is passionate about working closely with her students to recognize opportunities and interesting topics to examine together.  

Learn more about Dr. Tamara Bonaci’s class and her incredible work around privacy engineering by reading the full interview here. 

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