Adrienne Sands

Adrienne Sands
I enjoy testing new algorithms to improve our detection and tracking capabilities and demonstrating these capabilities to sponsors.

What was your background coming in to the Laboratory, and what led you here?

Prior to joining the Lab full time, I was working on my doctorate in math at the University of Minnesota. I learned about the Lab at the GEM Consortium Annual Conference in 2017, where I gave a talk on my graduate research in the Technical Presentation Competition. Dr. Evans (Lincoln Laboratory Director) attended my talk and thought I’d be a good fit for an internship at the Lab. During the summers of 2018 and 2019, I worked on thru-wall sensing with Raoul Ouedraogo’s team. Although the project was unrelated to my graduate research, I enjoyed the work and the team enough to join the Lab full time.

What are you working on today? 

I work on the algorithms that allow us to detect and track human subjects thru-wall using radar. 

What do you enjoy about your work?

I enjoy testing new algorithms to improve our detection and tracking capabilities and demonstrating these capabilities to sponsors. Recently, my team had a live demo where we set up the radar behind a wall and I hid under a table. Although the sponsors could not see anyone in the room, our radar detected me by my breathing and subtle limb movements. It gave me great pride to come out from under the table and surprise the sponsor, proving that we could successfully detect a hidden, stationary human target through walls.

How did you get interested in your field of study?

I had always liked my math classes, but my interest grew in high school when I took calculus with Mrs. Howes. The day she showed our class how to make beautiful fractal flowers, I was hooked. Soon after, I joined our local chapter of Mu Alpha Theta, a mathematics honor society, and competed in several math competitions. As I’ve progressed in my mathematics career, I’ve been inspired by Sofya Kovalevskaya (the first woman to be appointed professor of mathematics), Benjamin Banneker (the first African American mathematician), Euphemia Haynes (the first African American woman to earn a math PhD), and many other field pioneers. 

What is something outside of your technical work that you are passionate about? 

I love to fish. I find peace staring out into clear water and great excitement when a bass or musky bites on the line.

What is a goal you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime?

I’d like to publish a book in my lifetime — a graduate math textbook, a mystery, or both.