Distributed Research Experience for Undergraduates: Catching up with DREU Alumna Olivia Figueira


When did you participate in DREU and what was your project about?
I participated in a DREU program in the summer of 2019 at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. I worked with Dr. Jennifer Mankoff in her Make4All lab on a project aimed at finding the contribution of correlated stressors on mental health in college students.

How did DREU shape your research career?
DREU has shaped my research career in that it was my first official research experience and I really enjoyed it! I have had the goal of going to graduate school for a while, but I did not have any research experience off which I could base that goal. But after DREU, I feel even more excited and passionate to go to graduate school than ever before. It gave me a very unique view of the graduate school experience since I worked closely with a doctoral student in the lab, and I learned so much about conducting research at the graduate level. DREU allowed me to picture what graduate school could look like for me, and I am really excited about that prospect.

What advice would you have for DREU mentors and DREU student participants?
The best piece of advice I received during my DREU program was during a meet-and-greet lunch for undergraduate interns, graduate students, and visiting research interns in the computer science and engineering school that was held in my first week at UW. The graduate students were participating in a panel, and one of them, in response to the question “What do you wish you had known before you started your Ph.D.?”, said that they wished they knew that it was okay to not have all the answers and to ask questions, especially questions that they think are “dumb.” This really resonated with me as I felt somewhat unprepared having had no prior research experience, but I embraced that piece of advice and asked questions immediately when I had doubts, even if I felt like they were “dumb” questions, because clearly no one there is “dumb”! It really enhanced my experience since I was able to understand the project better and learn more from my mentor and the other students on my team. On the mentor side of things, I would advise them to tell their DREU students this advice! It helps the DREU student feel like they are in a safe environment and that learning (and making mistakes) is okay. This enhanced my DREU experience, and I hope other DREU students and mentors do the same!

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Distributed Research Experience for Undergraduates: Catching up with DREU Alumna Sarah Ita Levitan


When did you participate in DREU and what was your project about?
I participated in DREU in the summer of 2012, before my senior year of college.  I worked at the Columbia Speech Lab under the guidance of Dr. Julia Hirschberg. My project involved studying entrainment patterns in US Supreme Court oral arguments.  Entrainment is the phenomenon where people tend to become similar to their dialogue partner in conversation by adopting characteristics of their partner’s speech.  I worked on cleaning noisy Supreme Court audio recordings and measuring and analyzing entrainment on acoustic-prosodic features (such as pitch and loudness) between lawyers and justices.  We found that lawyers entrained more than justices, supporting the theory that the less dominant speaker is more likely to entrain to the more dominant speaker. 

How did DREU shape your research career?
My DREU experience had a major impact on my career path. Spending a summer immersed in research in a large university lab, surrounded by people working on exciting projects in natural language and speech processing, solidified my interest in getting a PhD in computer science and pursuing a research career.  I returned to the Speech Lab the following summer, and ultimately joined the Speech Lab at Columbia as a PhD student, with my DREU mentor as my PhD advisor.  I feel privileged to have had such a wise and dedicated advisor, whose enthusiasm for research is contagious, and whose commitment to helping her students is extraordinary. She is passionate about encouraging women in CS and continues to mentor DREU students during the summer. Under her guidance, I have mentored some excellent DREU students. 

What advice would you have for DREU mentors and DREU student participants?
The DREU program is more than an internship where a student completes a research project — it should be a mentoring relationship as well. For mentors, it is important to take the time to get to know your DREU student.  Meetings should not just be about the project details — ask your student about their plans for after graduation and offer  guidance and support.  For students, take advantage of this rare opportunity to be  mentored.  Communicate as much as possible with your mentor, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need help.  And enjoy the experience — it will fly by!

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A Broader Case for Diversity and Inclusion: CRA-Women Transitioning to CRA-Widening Participation


By the CRA Committee on Widening Participation in Computing Research 

It is with great excitement that we share with our friends, colleagues, and broader computing community that CRA Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W) is now officially CRA Committee on Widening Participation in Computing Research (CRA-WP). CRA-W was established in 1991 with the mission of increasing the success and participation of women in Computing Research. Since that time, we have organized numerous programs at various levels to engage, encourage, and sustain women in computing. In 2004, CRA-W first partnered with the Coalition to Diversify Computing (CDC) to engage and increase the participation of individuals from additional underrepresented groups in computing. In 2008, this partnership became a BPC Alliance, further expanding and strengthening our outreach and programmatic efforts. Over the past decade, our programs have quite naturally shifted from being initially women-only or women-focused, to being increasingly co-ed, with a mission of serving a wide range of constituencies. This natural progression towards broadening our scope to address all forms of underrepresentation in computing continues to motivate and drive our extremely dedicated board of volunteers.

Expanding the Pipeline: The Second Annual CRA Grad Cohort for URMD Supports a Diverse Computing Research Community


On March 22-23, CRA hosted the second annual Graduate Cohort for Underrepresented Minorities and Persons with Disabilities (URMD Grad Cohort) in picturesque Waikoloa Village, Hawaii. The location provided beautiful scenery as students spent two days learning how to succeed in graduate school and networked with a diverse group of peers and senior researchers.

Breaking Another Glass Ceiling: Susan Eggers Receives 2018 ACM-IEEE-CS Eckert-Mauchly Award


Susan Eggers recently received the 2018 ACM-IEEE-CS Eckert-Mauchly Award, “for outstanding contributions to simultaneous multithreaded processor architectures and multiprocessor sharing and coherency.” This is a significant milestone in computer architecture because she is the first woman to receive the award in its 39-year history.

Eggars accepted the award at the ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) and delivered a moving acceptance speech. She has also inspired several women to stay in the field and served as a mentor at many CRA-W Career Mentoring Workshops.

Balancing Workload and How to Say No


By Gail C. Murphy, Joanne M. Atlee Being a female professor in computing is a great career, full of opportunities to teach others the power of computation and conduct research into computational solutions that attack some of the world’s hardest problems and shape the world of the future. For female faculty members, additional opportunities abound […]

CRA-W Distinguished Lecturers, Margaret Burnett and Rebecca Wright, Inspire Students at NJWIC


CRA-W Distinguished Lecture Series sent two speakers to the NJ Women In Computing celebration. Dr. Margaret Burnett and Dr. Rebecca Wright were a tremendous asset to the NJ Women In Computing celebration and NCWIT award ceremony. They presented awards to female high school and college students who have demonstrated great potential in computing.  Their talks […]