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New awards support future leaders of computing research

October 21st, 2020

From 2018 to 2019, the number of students from underrepresented groups who completed a Ph.D in computer science decreased by 13 percent. Computer science research has broad implications for billions of people—which is why it’s so important that researchers doing this work represent the experiences, perspectives, and concerns of people all around the world. So we’re working with the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (CAHSI) and the CMD-IT Diversifying Future Leadership in the Professoriate Alliance (FLIP) to increase the diversity of Ph.D graduates in computing.

In 2019, together with Google Research, CAHSI and CMD-IT FLIP established separate competitive dissertation awards programs across their network of institutions. They invited doctoral students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to apply for the awards to be used for the last year of the completion of the dissertation requirements.

Meet the 11 graduate students who received this award. By pursuing research in computer science and related fields, they’re positively influencing the direction and perspective of technology. Here’s what they’ve shared about themselves, their aspirations, and dreams for the future.

New awards support future leaders of computing research
Adrian Veliz – The University of Texas at El Paso (left):  I want to show underrepresented students they too can succeed in STEM and academia. I aim to achieve tenure and grow the Computer Science Department at Olympic College.

Alexander Moreno – Georgia Institute of Technology (right): After completing my PhD, I plan to pursue a postdoc in academia or industry. I would like to continue to focus on methodology and theory for healthcare applications.

New awards support future leaders of computing research
Amber Solomon – Georgia Institute of Technology (left): After completing my Ph.D., I first plan to work as a research scientist creating interventions that promote equity and inclusivity in computer science classrooms. Eventually, I plan to work on policy related to computer science education.

David Reyes – The University of Texas at El Paso (right):  When I begin my transition to academia, my goal is to use the knowledge that I have gained to not only advance the current state of work in cybersecurity but to also teach students and prepare them for a career in computer science or cybersecurity.

New awards support future leaders of computing research
Emmanuel Utreras – New Mexico State University (left):  Upon completing my Ph.D, my ultimate goal is to return to my country of Puerto Rico as a faculty researcher, actively participate in research training programs focused on underrepresented minorities, and encourage students to pursue a doctorate degree in STEM.

Felix Gonda – Harvard University (right):  After completing my Ph.D, I plan to pursue opportunities in an industry where I can apply my research and computing skills to solve real-world problems that have a direct impact on the quality of life of citizens such as in health care, assistive robots, and neuroscience.

New awards support future leaders of computing research
Gabriel Fierro – University of California, Berkeley (left): After completing my PhD, I plan to pursue a faculty position in a computer science department where I am able to pursue non-traditional and cross-disciplinary approaches to long-standing problems in sustainability and the built environment.

Juan Lopez – The University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (right): I look forward to finishing my doctorate so that, through an academic position, I may help many other Hispanics obtain the education necessary to fulfill their academic and professional goals.

New awards support future leaders of computing research
Michael Rivera – Carnegie Mellon University (left) : After completing the PhD, I plan to pursue a postdoctoral position followed by a position as a university professor.

Oscar Veliz – The University of Texas at El Paso (right): I have experience being the “one-and-only” and want to do everything I can for supporting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with the Latinx community in computer science.

New awards support future leaders of computing research
Wing Lam – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: After completing my PhD, I will pursue a research position in academia or industry labs.