Laura Biester

Computer Science PhD Student

About Me

I am a second-year PhD Student at the University of Michigan, where I work with Dr. Rada Mihalcea on natural language processing and computational social science. I am interested in gaining a better understanding of people through language data and AI for social good.

After completing my PhD, I hope to stay in academia as a faculty member.

Before I was a graduate student, I spent two years at Pinterest as a software engineer, and earned my BA in computer science from Carleton College in 2016.


University of Michigan

Computer Science and Engineering, PhD

Expected 2023

Adviser: Dr. Rada Mihalcea

Completed Coursework: Advanced Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Database Systems, Microarchitecture, Natural Language Processing, Psychology of Language, Research Seminar in Science, Tech and Public Policy

Carleton College

Bachelor of Arts, Computer Science

June 2016

Elective Coursework: Artificial Intelligence, Computational Models of Cognition, Natural Language Processing, Operating Systems, Parallel and Distributed Computing


University of Michigan

Graduate Student Research Assistant

September 2018 - Present

Research assistant for Dr. Rada Mihalcea, focusing on natural language processing and computational social science. My current project focuses on applying NLP and machine learning techniques to data from students at the University of Michigan. From the data, we hope to be able to build a profile of students using numerous factors that may predict their academic success and mental health.

University of Michigan


September 2019 - December 2019

Primary instructor for EECS 198, Discover Computer Science. Responsibilities include weekly lectures, grading, curriculum/assignment design, and managing a team of two undergraduate teaching assistants.


Software Engineer

August 2016 - August 2018

Worked primarily on large scale storage systems on top of MySQL and HBase. Projects include an inconsistency detection framework for distributed graph databases, and sharding strategies/implementation for advertiser data.

Carleton College

Computer Science Grader

April 2016 - June 2016

Graded three assignments per week for 30 students in Mathematics of Computer Science, the introductory discrete mathematics course for computer science majors.

Carleton College

Computer Science Prefect

August 2014 - March 2016

Spent three terms as a prefect for Mathematics of Computer Science and two terms as a prefect for Data Structures. Responsibilities included preparing worksheets and leading twice-weekly study sessions for 10-40 students (depending on the class), in addition to providing 1-1 tutoring for students as requested.