Annika (Anna) Valerie Rift has always been fascinated by computers, and has experimented with code for a decade. That passion translated into a dedication to academics at Boise State University’s Computer Science Department. In their second semester, Anna began working as a tutor for a second year-level data structures course, and discovered the joy of talking about and collaborating on computing problems with others.
Soon after, they joined Dr. Catherine Olschanowsky’s Adapt Dataflow Optimizations Lab to work on more significant challenges. This work, which involves optimizing scientific programs run on supercomputers, quickly became the focal point of their academic experience at Boise State. During their time in the lab, Anna has contributed to multiple publications, presented at Boise State’s Research Computing Days, collaborated with teams from the University of Utah and the University of Arizona, and attended the International Workshop on Languages and Compilers for Parallel Computing. They also volunteered as a programming mentor for Boise State’s FIRST Robotics Team, The Chickadees.
Anna has been out as transgender since enrolling at Boise State, which has led to some unique challenges and increased isolation. Recognizing they weren’t alone in this experience, in Spring 2020, Anna and their partner Paisley founded the Queer STEM Club to create a community for themselves and other queer students in similar fields. After a slow start due to the pandemic, the club has been an enormous success, reaching more than 60 members and becoming one of the primary queer groups on campus. QSTEM helped Anna and many other students find their place in the STEM community at Boise State.
Anna Rift is from Boise, Idaho and hopes to become a professor and pursue a career in CS research.
Congratulations to Anna for the distinct honor of being named a Top Ten Scholar in the graduating class of 2022!