Cecilia R. Aragon

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Cecilia R. Aragon
Alma materCalifornia Institute of Technology (BS)
University of California, Berkeley (MS, PhD)
Known forCo-invention of treap data structure
AwardsPresidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science
InstitutionsUniversity of Washington
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
NASA Ames Research Center
ThesisImproving aviation safety with information visualization: Airflow hazard display for helicopter pilots (2004)
Doctoral advisorMarti Hearst

Cecilia Rodriguez Aragon is an American computer scientist, professor, author, and champion aerobatic pilot[1][2] who is best known as the co-inventor (with Raimund Seidel) of the treap data structure, a type of binary search tree that orders nodes by adding a priority as well as a key to each node.[3] She is also known for her work in data-intensive science and visual analytics of very large data sets, for which she received the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).


Aragon received her B.S. in mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in 1982, M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1987 and, Ph.D. in computer science from the same institution in 2004. For her doctoral studies, Aragon worked under the direction of Marti Hearst.[4]


She is a professor in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her research interests in the field of human-centered data science include eScience, scientific and information visualization, visual analytics, image processing, collaborative creativity, analysis of spontaneous text communication, dynamic affect detection, and games for good.[5] Prior to her appointment at UW, she was a computer scientist and data scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for six years and NASA Ames Research Center for nine years, and before that, an airshow and test pilot, entrepreneur, and member of the United States Aerobatic Team.[6]

Presidential Early Career Award[edit]

On July 9, 2009, Aragon received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers.[7][8]

She was recognized for "seminal research in workflow management and visual analytics for data-intensive scientific research, including the development of the Fourier contour analysis algorithm and Sunfall."[9]

Aerobatic career[edit]

Aragon first won a slot on the United States Aerobatic Team in 1991. She holds the record for shortest time from first solo in an airplane to membership on the US Team (less than six years),[10][11] and was also the first Latina to win a slot on the Team.

A team member from 1991 to 1994, she was a bronze medalist at the 1993 U.S. National Aerobatic Championships and the 1994 World Aerobatic Championships. She has also won over 70 trophies in regional aerobatic competitions at the Unlimited level and was California State Unlimited Aerobatic Champion in 1990. Aragon has also flown airshows (as distinct from aerobatic competitions) professionally since 1990.

Aragon has been a flight instructor since 1987. In 1989, she founded one of the first aerobatic and tailwheel flight schools in Northern California.[12]

Aragon helped develop an "unusual attitude recovery training", whereby flight students are taught how to recover from emergency situations in flight.[13] Between 1987 and 2008, she was a flight instructor at Oakland, Livermore, and Tracy Airports, giving over 2400 hours of flight instruction and over 3000 hours of ground instruction.[14]


In September 2020, Aragon's memoir, Flying Free, was published by Blackstone Publishing.[15] Her autobiography was listed in September 2020 Ms. Magazine book list.[16] Her book won the 2021 PNWA Nancy Pearl award.[17]


Selected scientific papers[edit]

  • Aragon, Cecilia R.; Seidel, Raimund (1989). Randomized Search Trees (PDF). Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science. IEEE Computer Society Press. pp. 540–545. doi:10.1109/SFCS.1989.63531. ISBN 0-8186-1982-1.
  • Johnson, David S.; Aragon, Cecilia R.; McGeoch, Lyle A.; Schevon, Catherine (November–December 1989). "Optimization by Simulated Annealing: An Experimental Evaluation; Part I, Graph Partitioning". Operations Research. 37 (6): 853–992. doi:10.1287/opre.37.6.865.
  • Seidel, Raimund; Aragon, Cecilia R. (October 1996). "Randomized search trees". Algorithmica. 16 (4–5): 464–497. doi:10.1007/BF01940876. S2CID 9370259.
  • Pritoni, Marco; Meier, Alan K; Aragon, Cecilia; Perry, Daniel; Peffer, Therese (July 2015). "Energy efficiency and the misuse of programmable thermostats: The effectiveness of crowdsourcing for understanding household behavior". Energy Research & Social Science. 8: 190–197. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2015.06.002.

Non-science non-fiction books[edit]

Short stories (fiction)[edit]



  1. ^ Ball, Edmund F. (1993). Rambling Recollections of Flying and Fliers. Muncie, Indiana: Minnetrista Cultural Center. ISBN 0-9623291-8-5.
  2. ^ Miller, Claudia (December 25, 1998). "Berkeley Pilot Flies High in Aerobatics". San Francisco Chronicle.
  3. ^ Aragon, C.R.; Seidel, R. G. (October 1989). "Randomized search trees". 30th Annual Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science. Washington, D.C.: IEEE Computer Society Press. pp. 540–45. doi:10.1109/SFCS.1989.63531. ISBN 978-0-8186-1982-3. S2CID 47386481.
  4. ^ Aragon, Cecilia Rodriguez (2004). Improving Aviation Safety with Information Visualization: Airflow Hazard Display for Helicopter Pilots (PDF) (PhD thesis). University of California, Berkeley. OCLC 70627830. ProQuest 305213155.
  5. ^ "Cecilia R. Aragon". Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  6. ^ "Daredevils of the Sky". NOVA. Season 21. Episode 3. February 1, 1994. PBS.
  7. ^ "President Honors Outstanding Early-Career Scientists". whitehouse.gov (Press release). July 9, 2009 – via National Archives.
  8. ^ "Cecilia Aragon Honored with the Presidential Early Career Award". Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. July 10, 2009. Archived from the original on August 4, 2009.
  9. ^ "Obama Administration Honors DOE Scientists and Engineers with Presidential Early Career Award". Department of Energy. July 9, 2009. Archived from the original on July 16, 2009.
  10. ^ Wells, Stacey (August 13, 1992). "Worldwide competition leaves flier soaring". Vacaville Reporter.
  11. ^ "Evening Magazine". KPIX-TV. March 10, 1999.
  12. ^ Mitchell, Stefanie (June 23, 1993). "Computer Programmer Gets High on Aerobatics". Tri-Valley Herald (Livermore, California).
  13. ^ "Aragon Aviation, Inc". Aragon Aviation, Inc. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  14. ^ "Cecilia R. Aragon, CV". faculty.washington.edu. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  15. ^ Aragon, Cecilia (September 22, 2020). Flying Free by Cecilia Aragon. Blackstone. ISBN 9781982642464. Retrieved September 16, 2020. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  16. ^ Strand, Karla (September 2, 2020). "September 2020 Reads for the Rest of Us". Ms.
  17. ^ "2021 Contest winners". Pacific Northwest Writer's Association.

External links[edit]