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CRA Education Committee Selects New Graduate Fellow


Joss Pena

CRA’s Education Committee (CRA-E) has recently selected its 2019 CRA-E Graduate Fellow – Joslenne (Joss) Peña. Joss is a Ph.D. candidate and Sloan MPHD Scholar in Informatics at Penn State University (PSU) under the direction of Mary Beth Rosson. She earned her M.S. in Information Sciences and Technology in 2015 (also at PSU). Joss completed a 14-month internship as a research intern in the Human-Centered Systems group at Honeywell Aerospace. Broadly, her research interests are in human-computer interaction, design, computer science education, and human factors psychology. Specifically, her dissertation work is investigating non-programmers’ behaviors and attitudes in higher education through small exposures to coding and how their trajectories relate to a reexamined view of computational thinking.

Joss has presented at the iConference (2018 and 2016), ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, and EDULEARN. She is the Coding Workshop Consultant for Code for Her (a beginner’s coding workshop series for female and gender-diverse individuals at PSU), and has previously taught coding for iD Tech Camps and local initiatives like iTech Academy.

Joss has demonstrated a commitment to broadening underrepresentation in computer science by immersing herself in several local efforts such as mentoring summer undergraduate researchers, hosting potential PhD students, and advocating at multicultural events on campus and at conferences. Being a minority herself in several ways, she understands the path many of those seeking to pursue research and graduate school walk. She is excited and honored to be the next fellow!

CRA-E Fellow Booma Sowkarthiga Balasubramani (University of Illinois at Chicago) ends her term this year. Booma has significantly contributed to the CRA-E Conquer site by identifying and curating resources to help students understand the process of getting involved in research and gain insights on getting into graduate school, and also to provide resources to the faculty for mentoring undergraduate students. She has worked extensively on the Undergraduate Research Highlights series, which highlights outstanding research done by undergraduate students. Booma was also instrumental in creating a presence for CRA-E in social media to help reach out to more people in the computing community, and in proposing new contents and categories that helps both faculty and students. Booma will continue her PhD at UIC, focusing on her research on geospatial data integration. In the long run, she is interested in researching and developing solutions for social good, and is very keen to continue her contributions towards bridging the gender gap in the computing community. CRA-E Fellow Rob Bowden will continue for a second year.

The CRA-E Graduate Fellows Program was established in 2015 to give graduate students the opportunity to contribute to CRA-E projects and promote computer science research and undergraduate education at the national level.