Faculty of the Week: Professor Constance Royden

Hometown: Originally: Los Altos Hills, CA. Currently: Needham, MA

Current position on campus: Professor of Computer Science

What is it about your profession that you enjoy it so greatly?: I love working with students one on one.  I enjoy seeing them light up as they grasp a new concept, either from a course or from research in my lab.

Role Model: My PhD thesis advisor, Dr. Lily Jan at UCSF.  She is a brilliant, strong scientist and gave me a great model of how a woman can navigate the male-dominated field of neuroscience.

Education: BS in Biology and Engineering, Caltech; PhD in Neuroscience, UC San Francisco

Hobbies: Music. I sing in my church choir (I’m a soprano), play the guitar for fun, and dance (my husband and I swing dance).

Favorite Subject: Computer Science!  Also Neuroscience.

Favorite Animal: I love dogs!

Favorite Book: I love science fiction and historical fiction.  My favorites include “The Sparrow,” by Mary Doria Russell, “The Persian Boy,” by Mary Renault, and just about anything by Terry Pratchett.

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Movie: “Casablanca” and “West Side Story”

Favorite Song: I love Strauss Waltzes and Swing Music (for the dancing).  I spend most of my time listening to folk (e.g. Peter, Paul and Mary), classic rock, and alternative rock (e.g. Fleetwood Mac and Talking Heads).

Favorite Sports Teams: US Women’s Gymnastics team (Aly Raisman is from Needham, where I live!), US Women’s Soccer team and, of course, the Red Sox and Patriots.

Favorite TV Shows: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Breaking Bad,” and  “Game of Thrones”

Favorite On-Campus Meal: Turkey Wrap at Crossroads

Favorite Off-Campus Meal: Mexican food (especially burritos)

One Thing in Your Bucket List: Realistic: I’d like to visit Machu Picchu in Peru. Unrealistic: To be a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars”

Unique Talent: I have a black belt in Aikido.

Proudest Moment at Holy Cross: I am proudest when my former students achieve something significant, whether it be earning a graduate degree, working at a terrific company, or spending a year doing volunteer work.

Something Your Students Do that Frustrate You: Waiting until the last minute to start an assignment, and then emailing me the night before it’s due asking how to get started.

Advice to Your Students: Don’t be afraid to try new things, even if they appear daunting or scary.  Don’t be afraid to change course in your profession if you aren’t happy.  I made several large changes in my career before I found what I really enjoy doing.

Your Mantra: Breathe In; Breathe Out.

If you can change one thing about Holy Cross, what would it be?: I would move it closer to where I live.  My commute is pretty long, but I love living in Needham!

What do you admire most about Holy Cross?: I admire the dedication of the faculty and staff to the mission of educating the students as whole people, and I admire the students’ dedication to service work.

Funny High School/College Experience: I played Zaneeta in my college’s production of “The Music Man,” and had to learn to twirl a baton and throw it into the air and catch it.  I lived in fear of accidentally hurling it into the orchestra pit and beaning one of the musicians.  (It never happened, but I came close on occasion!)

Funny Holy Cross Story: Last summer I became briefly addicted to “Pokemon Go,” and after catching two Pokemon in my office I started wandering around campus chasing Pokemon.

Categories: features

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