CRA-E Graduate Fellows Program

The CRA-E Graduate Fellows program provides opportunities for Ph.D. candidates in a computing field to contribute to the Computing Research Association’s Education Committee (CRA-E) projects, network with computer science education advocates on the committee, and engage in advocacy for undergraduate research education. 

CRA-E’s activities focus on promoting the health of the computing research pipeline including promoting undergraduate research, providing resources to faculty to prepare talented students for research, and encouraging undergraduates to pursue graduate education and research careers in computing fields. Current and past CRA-E activities can be found here.

Call for nominations

CRA-E seeks one Ph.D. candidate to serve as a Fellow. This is an opportunity for graduate students in computing-related fields to gain experience serving on a national committee of the computer research community.

CRA-E typically has two fellows and appoints one new graduate fellow per year with each fellow serving for two years in staggered appointments. Given the two-year term length, in order to be eligible, nominees need to be current graduate students with at least two years left of study.

Fellows provide a graduate student voice to the committee. And they attend the annual CRA-E meeting, manage the research highlights series, and contribute to the CRA-E’s SPARC site, (previously Conquer).

Nomination process:

Faculty members are invited to nominate one graduate student from their institution (multiple nominations are permitted by distinct faculty members from the same institution).

A nomination package includes:

  1. One faculty recommendation letter describing the student’s interpersonal skills and evidence of interest in mentoring undergraduates. Importantly, this letter should describe the student’s involvement in PhD research and their experience mentoring undergraduates in research.
  2. The student’s C.V. including their research interests and accomplishments.
  3. A one-page statement written by the student describing their interest in the CRA-E Fellow position, experience mentoring undergraduates, and long-term aspirations.

Typically, faculty member nominating candidates will be in the student’s department, but they do not have to be the student’s advisor.    

Selection process:

CRA-E members will select the CRA-E Fellows, with preference given to students in their third year (or later) of graduate school in computer science, computer engineering, or information sciences. Moreover, criteria for selection include interest in undergraduate education, evidence of interest in mentoring undergraduates in research, interpersonal skills, and interest in professional service at the national level.

Applicants are encouraged to examine the CRA-E website and indicate what aspects of CRA-E activities are of interest to them.

CRA-E Fellow Responsibilities:

  • Attend the annual CRA-E meeting (typically in June; travel expenses reimbursed by CRA-E)
  • Manage the undergraduate research highlights series
  • Contribute to CRA-E’s social media
  • Provide a graduate student perspective for material on the CRA-E’s SPARC site, (previously Conquer).

CRA-E Fellows are expected to contribute approximately 5 hours per month.

Selection Committee:
Denys Poshyvanyk, William & Mary
Monica Anderson, U of Alabama
Yasra Chandio, UMass Amherst
Alejandro Velasco Dimate, William & Mary

Applications Open: Friday, November 10, 2023

Application Deadline: Friday, January 19, 2024

Decisions will be made and communicated by early March.

The Fellow’s term starts June 1, 2024; it is a 2-year appointment.

Current and Past Fellows:

Alejandro Velasco Dimate, College of William and Mary (2023 – present)
Yasra Chandio, U of Massachusetts, Amherst (2022 – present)
Nadia Ady, U of Alberta (2021 – 2023)
Ian Ludden, UIUC (2020 – 2022)
Jean Salac, U of Chicago (2020 – 2021)
Joslenne Peña, Penn State  (2019 – 20)
Robert Bowden, Harvard  (2018-20)
Booma S. Balasubramani, UIC (2017-19)
Keith Feldman, Notre Dame (2016-18)
Max Grossman, Rice  (2016-17)

New Fellow Announcements: 2023, 2022, 2021, 20202019, 2018, 2017, 2016

Current CRA-E Graduate Fellows:

Headshot of Alejandro Velasco Dimate, a graduate fellow for CRA-E Alejandro Velasco Dimaté

CRA-E Graduate Fellow
College of William and Mary

Alejandro (he/him/his) is a Ph.D student in Computer Science at the College of William and Mary, currently advised by Dr. Denys Poshyvanyk. He earned both his Bachelors (2015) and Masters (2019) degree from Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
Alejandro’s research interests lie in the domain of Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, and Deep Representation. His current research focuses on Interpretability and Explainability of Language Models trained on source code generation. During his studies at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, he was awarded with assistant professorship in both 2016 and 2017, as well as a Graduate Payment Waiver Scholarship in 2016. In 2010, he ranked fourth in his home country on the ICFES exam.
As an advocate in the field of Software Engineering, Alejandro has an extensive career in industry. He previously worked for top companies in Latin America, including Scotia Bank and Mercado Libre. During his time in industry, Alejandro collaborated with his alma mater, presenting state-of-the-art industry challenges and opening up opportunities for undergraduate students. This interaction between academia and industry allowed Alejandro to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field while contributing to the education of future generations of computer scientists.
As a graduate fellow, progressing towards his goal of conducting high-quality academic research, Alejandro is eager to collaborate with talented, diverse, and passionate undergraduate students who are committed to making a meaningful impact in the field of Computer Science. When he is not busy doing research, he loves to play the guitar, sing and listen to music.

Yasra Chandio

CRA-E Graduate Fellow
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Yasra (she/her) is a third-year Ph.D. student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst). At UMASS she is working with Prof. Fatima M. Anwar and her research interests lie in the domain of extended reality (XR), embedded systems, and security.

Before starting her Ph.D. at UMASS, she earned her Bachelor of Engineering focused on Software Engineering from Pakistan in 2014 and MS in Computer Science from Binghamton University (State University of New York) in 2019. Over the years, she has served different roles of mentors as teaching assistant, guest lecturer, research mentor, K-12 engineering workshop instructor, and organizer. She was a student scholar at Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) in 2019, CRA-WP Grad Cohort (2021, 2022), N2Women, and Google CSRMP (2020).

In addition to mentoring, she has been a part of competitive reviewing committees in the past including GHC (2021) and EuroSys shadow program committee (2022).

Currently, in her research, she is investigating the stealthiness of the multi-modal attack surface that is present in the mixed reality systems, by launching coordinated spatiotemporal attacks on sensor data. When she is not solving computational problems, she is either playing card games with her friends, baking bread, or cooking food from all over the world for her family and friends.