In a major recognition of Swiss innovation and excellence in database research, the VLDB Endowment has conferred the prestigious VLDB Women in Database Research Award on Anastasia Ailamaki, EPFL professor and co-founder of Raw Labs. In announcing the award, VLDB has acknowledged Ailamaki’s ‘pioneering research on the interaction between hardware micro-architecture and database engine performance.”

Even as a budding researcher during her undergrad days at a computer engineering school in Greece, Anastasia Ailamaki inspired gender diversity in the academic field. She was one of only 9 female students in a class of 154. Although she never encountered gender discrimination in those days, she admits that it was difficult for her to find a job as a system developer or network manager. That turned to be a blessing in disguise because it encouraged her to pursue her PhD. Today, she is a leading woman achiever not only as head of EPFL’s Data Intensive Applications and Systems Laboratory (DIAS) but also for her excellence in database research. However, she calls on woman researchers not to let thoughts on gender predominate because it’s not about “women or men in science, but just great scientists.”

At EPFL, Ailamaki has worked on data-intensive systems and applications, particularly the interaction between database software and emerging hardware and I/O devices, and automation of data management to support computationally-demanding, data-intensive scientific applications. She is currently working on developing real-time analytics infrastructures (or real-time intelligent systems) that incorporate change as a core premise.

Reacting to the VLDB award, Ailamaki said that her students are her biggest achievement:

“It’s always humbling and fabulous to win awards and I have been fortunate to have my work recognized often, but I feel that my biggest achievement, and most important contribution to my research field, are my students and post-docs. I enjoy working with young people very much and I learn from them as much as I hope that they learn from me.”

For Ailamaki, life is often an extension of her computer science approach, and she applies her systematic computational and algorithmic thinking processes to make decisions in her everyday life. She believes that “when you make a decision with all the data at hand, there are no regrets.”

September had yet another achievement in store for Ailamaki; she was elected as a member of Academia Europaea, an association that aims to advance excellence in science and research for public benefit and education.

Professor Ailamaki’s achievement is yet another distinguished addition to EPFL’s long list of impressive accolades.