Women Who Reign: Julia Geist

“What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning” -Heisenberg

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
Hey! My name is Julia Geist. I’m currently studying iOS development intensely, while pursuing a triple major of Computer Science, Physics and Engineering and a double minor of Philosophy and Eastern Religion.

I have an intensely deep fascination of how I come to define the words “reality”, “existence” and “truth”. In pursuit of defining these words, I study the subjects that attempt to describe reality— physics, mathematics, philosophy and religion. I study computer-related fields as well because technology has transformed virtually every industry. In other words, having the skill of working with technology gives me a reach that stretches over almost every discipline.

I believe that creativity is a matter of connecting pieces of knowledge that I already have. For this reason, I am focused on building an eclectic foundation of knowledge so I am able to create efficiently and effectively. This also includes seeing the same thing from different perspectives. Marcel Proust said “the true voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”


What # would define your life journey?
I think the number to define my life journey is zero. I think of zero because I am always experiencing reality in the present moment. I am always at zero. Life is transient. Opportunity, at any point in my life, is either blooming, withering, or has yet to bloom. (This is actually the concept behind my first and only tattoo.)

Using this analogy, I choose zero because at any point in my life (including now) I was, and will be, at zero with respect to new opportunities. (Personally, I include death as an opportunity for new “experience”.)

Favorite website / app:
My favorite application is Universe Sandbox. It’s a realistic simulation of interactions in space. You can watch stars evolve, see the effects of certain elements on a planet, and cause havoc if you please (like freezing over Earth). Definitely gives me perspective. My entire life, everyone I know, my conception of history… all of it has happened on this tiny blue dot in space…. Makes me think about how human consciousness even had the conditions to emerge from this environment… But that’s another discussion.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Didn’t Cha Know by Erykah Badu is one of my favorite songs:

“Love is life, and life is free,
Take the ride of life with me,
Free your mind, and find your way,
There will be a brighter day”

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I recently built a web spider in Python that aggregates all reporting of gun violence from 2015 for Report US. I actually JUST got it up and running autonomously which I’m so proud of doing!! I never built something like this before so it was definitely a challenge to be able to grab content off of a variety of news sites because most of the sites keep the article content within different elements on the page. I love the self-sustaining open-source community that technology created. Love the flow of free tools and information to help one another. I honestly wouldn’t have been able to build this project out without the help of Goose, Beautiful Soup, lxml, urllib2, Chrome Driver, the list goes on…

Ideal Job:
My ideal job would be one that advances my own understanding of reality and allows me to transfer that knowledge to others. I’m not sure of the path I’m taking to accomplish that (huge) goal, but I know I’ll be able to get where I’m going because of my skills in technology.

There are roughly 1,000 incidents of gun violence PER WEEK, in the United States ALONE. This project is collecting and presenting these gargantuan statistics in a physical form. I believe the massive volumes bring the statistics down to a personal level. “Until meaningful gun legislation is passed, we all have blood on our hands.”

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
As I mentioned earlier, creation is a matter of connecting things you already know. I believe that there is a serious moral obligation, to technologists especially, to be conscious of the possible uses of our creation(s). Bjarne Stroustrup, when I met him, responded to this in a way that I’ve kept in the back of my mind ever since. He said something along the lines of “anything that is useful, whether your intentions are good or not, will be used maliciously.” So my advice to not only women, but everyone, is to create efficiently, however, mindfully.

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