CRA recently selected CRA-W board member Maria Gini as the recipient of the 2019 A. Nico Habermann Award. The award is given to a person who has made outstanding contributions aimed at increasing the numbers and/or successes of underrepresented members in the computing research community.
Gini is a professor of computer science at the University of Minnesota. She is an outspoken advocate of diversity in computing. Throughout her career, she has worked tirelessly to recruit and retain students from underrepresented groups in computing at the local, national, and international level. Gini is a respected and prolific researcher in the areas of intelligent agents, multi-agent systems, and robotics, and has been named a Fellow of both AAAI and IEEE. In addition to graduating 34 Ph.D. students and nearly 100 Master’s students, and mentoring dozens of undergraduate researchers, Gini has used her visibility and prominence to make the field more welcoming for everyone. She has spoken at numerous venues about the importance of diversity in computing and the need to create a culture that embraces it.
She is deeply committed to diversity and possesses the combination of generous spirit, organizational skill, and boundless energy to carry out that commitment. Gini has created and run programs for women and minority men high school students, and co-directed the CRA-W Distributed REU (DREU) program for many years. She currently co-directs CRA-W’s Grad Cohort for Women program, and regularly organizes and mentoring programs at AI and robotics conferences. Gini created and continues to run the Minnesota Regional Celebration of Women in Computing, and has long been involved in the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, recently serving as program and general chair.
Gini has had a tremendous, positive impact on countless individuals as well as on the computer science community. Her efforts in these programs have directly resulted in hundreds of students choosing to pursue research careers.