Cecilia R. Aragon

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Cecilia R. Aragon
Bornc. 1960
EducationCalifornia Institute of Technology
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
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

Cecilia Rodriguez Aragon (born ca. 1960) is an American computer scientist, professor, 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, her M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1987 and, her Ph.D. in computer science from the same institution in 2004.[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 1991–1994, 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.[citation needed] Until July 2009, she was an instructor at Tracy Airport, conducting aerobatic training, competition coaching, and teaching people to overcome their fear of flying.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Ball, Edmund F. (1993). Rambling Recollections of Flying and Fliers. Minnetrista Cultural Center, Muncie, Indiana; 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. Foundations of Computer Science, 30th Annual Symposium on. Washington, D.C.: IEEE Computer Society Press. pp. 540–45. doi:10.1109/SFCS.1989.63531. ISBN 978-0-8186-1982-3.
  4. ^ Cecilia Rodriguez Aragon, Improving Aviation Safety with Information Visualization: Airflow Hazard Display for Helicopter Pilots, University of California, Berkeley, 2004
  5. ^ "Cecilia R. Aragon". Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  6. ^ "Daredevils of the Sky". NOVA. February 1, 1994. PBS.
  7. ^ President Honors Outstanding Early-Career Scientists Archived July 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. WhiteHouse.gov, July 9, 2009.
  8. ^ Cecilia Aragon Honored with the Presidential Early Career Award Archived August 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. lbl.gov. July 10, 2009.
  9. ^ Obama Administration Honors DOE Scientists and Engineers with Presidential Early Career Award Archived July 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, doe.gov, July 9, 2009.
  10. ^ Wells, Stacey (August 13, 1992). "Worldwide competition leaves flier soaring". Vacaville Reporter.
  11. ^ KPIX-TV (March 10, 1999). "Evening Magazine".
  12. ^ Mitchell, Stefanie (June 23, 1993). "Computer Programmer Gets High on Aerobatics". Tri-Valley Herald (Livermore, California).

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