A strong passion for teaching and an immense amount of dedication for students are what make Professor Shannon Tauro one of the most respected professors in the School of Information and Computer Science.
Tauro, who has been a lecturer in the school for one year, started college with little intention of becoming a computer scientist.
‘When I started college, I had this idea of becoming a math teacher.’
Born and raised in Riverside, Calif., Tauro attended UC Riverside with hopes of becoming a math teacher.
‘I took two computer programming classes and I did really well in them,\” Tauro said. \”It was something that was working for me so I decided to pursue it.’
Throughout college, Tauro was involved in a choir as well as a religious group on campus.
Toward the end of her college career, she was involved in a research program setting up lab environments for an upper-division digital design class.
Although this research opportunity did not prove inspirational for Tauro, one of her motives for pursuing a bachelor’s degree in an otherwise male-dominated field was her mother.
‘My mom was pursuing a degree in computer science at Riverside while she was married, a Girl Scout troop leader and PTA president,’ Tauro said. ‘My mom showed me that a woman can get a degree in computer science.’
Raised with four sisters, one of them being her twin, Tauro said that one of the most difficult things growing up was competing for ‘resources.’
‘There were six people in the house including my mom and dad,’ Tauro said. ‘We had two cars so it was pretty hectic trying to get somewhere.’
Upon graduating from UCR in 1999, Tauro worked as a computer programmer for a company
that maintained and developed proton treatments for cancer patients.
During that time she applied for graduate school at UCI to pursue a master’s degree in computer science.
‘It was a big shock going from Riverside to Irvine and it took a while to get adjusted.’
Living in Verano Place with her husband whom she married during her junior year at UCR, Tauro served as a teaching assistant and a researcher in the field of embedded systems.
Some of the research Tauro conducted included the ‘Small Footprint Java Virtual Machine,’ which is the use of embedded systems in cellular phones programmed in Java, a programming language.
Although her research never ‘took off’ because of a slow economy, Tauro was not discouraged from continuing her career in computer science.
‘I felt guilty because I had been receiving money from this company who was sponsoring me to do research and I had nothing to show for it,’ Tauro said.
Frustrated, Tauro sought advice from her advisor as to what she should do.
She came up with the idea that this area of research was dead and decided that she would take a comprehensive exam and graduate with a master’s degree.
While six months pregnant, Tauro graduated in fall 2002 and began her teaching career in winter 2003.
Currently, Tauro teaches both lower and upper-division classes in ICS.
‘I really love getting to know my students,’ Tauro said. ‘Being a lecturer for large classes is difficult because of getting to know students’ names, but I’ve gotten used to it.’
One of the biggest challenges she has is making sure that she is up-to-date with her classes.
‘I am always interested in researching alternative teaching instructions,\” Tauro said. \”If it helps it stay in your mind, then I am willing to do everything I can to make it interesting for students.’
One of Tauro’s former students was pleased with her flexibility to meet with students on a regular basis.
‘She makes herself really accessible and she’ll go out of her way to meet with you,’ said Gabriel Georgescu, a fourth-year ICS major. ‘She always goes at a pace that is good for everyone and if you still have a question, she’ll find some way to give you [an] answer.’
One piece of advice she has for students is to seize the opportunities of both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
‘Get involved in research with faculty who are willing to teach students because it will separate you from others,’ Tauro said. ‘Also, don’t rush your time in school.’
Currently, Tauro lives in San Juan Capistrano with her husband and 1-year-old son, Jacob.