Marzyeh Ghassemi finds the right guiding star

Marzyeh Ghassemi, 2022 principal investigator for AI and health at the MIT Jameel Clinic, credits her mentor, MIT professor of computer science and engineering Peter Szolovits, as a deciding factor in her path to obtaining a PhD from MIT. Marzyeh says: "It's not the project that makes you successful. Having the right mentor, and the right people around you, should always be your guiding star."

Peter sees the mutually beneficial nature of their collaborative work, noting that she sparked his interest in the issue of AI bias and its implications on healthcare.


During a 2019 interview on Stanford University's Women in Data Science podcast, Marzyeh Ghassemi PhD '17, the Hermann Von Helmholtz Career Development Professor, declared that having a supportive mentor contributed greatly to her success as a graduate student.

"It's not the project that makes you successful," she said. "Having the right mentor, and the right people around you, should always be your guiding star."

In Ghassemi’s case, the right mentor was Peter Szolovits, a professor of computer science and engineering, who served as her PhD and postdoctoral research advisor. Ghassemi first spoke with Szolovits in early 2010 when she was thinking about where to apply for graduate school, then contacted him again in December 2010 after she’d been accepted to MIT and had to decide which lab to join. Szolovits is an expert on applying artificial intelligence (AI) methods to the practice of medicine, which closely aligns with Ghassemi’s interests. During that conversation 13 years ago, Ghassemi’s infant daughter cried repeatedly, and Ghassemi apologized for the interruptions, worried that she was making a bad impression. “That’s OK,” Szolovits assured her. “She’s just asking for her fair share of your time.”