This article is published in the February 2017 issue.

2017 CRA-E Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentoring Award Winners Announced

The Education Committee of the Computing Research Association (CRA-E) is proud to announce three winners of the CRA-E Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentoring Award. Congratulations to the 2017 award recipients: Margaret Burnett from Oregon State University, Nayda Santiago from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, and Margo Seltzer from Harvard University.

These outstanding individuals are recognized for providing exceptional mentorship, undergraduate research experiences, and, in parallel, guidance on admission and matriculation of their students to research-focused graduate programs in computing.

The 2017 selection committee includes Nancy Amato (Texas A&M University), Jeff Forbes (Duke University), Pat Morreale (Kean University), Manuel Pérez Quiñones (UNC Charlotte), and Barbara Ryder (Virginia Tech, committee chair).


Margaret Burnett, Ph.D., is a distinguished professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Oregon State University (OSU), a member of the ACM CHI Academy, and an ACM Distinguished Scientist. Burnett has contributed pioneering research on how ordinary users interact with software and optimizing that interaction. This resulted, in part, in the development of a new subarea, which is at the intersection of human-computer interaction and software engineering, called end-user software engineering.

Throughout her academic career, Burnett has continuously worked with undergraduate researchers and even accommodated high school students in her lab. She has mentored 39 undergraduate students in research; 21 were from underrepresented groups in computing, 32 co-authored published research papers, and 25 went on to graduate studies. A selection of the honors of her highly accomplished mentees includes three Google Scholarships, three NSF Graduate Fellowships, and two National Physical Sciences Consortium Graduate Fellowships. In her nomination, several mentees attested to her personal influence on and involvement in their lives and careers.

Impressively, Burnett influenced the culture of faculty undergraduate research mentoring in her school, increasing it to 50% participation. She has also led efforts to better support a diverse undergraduate population through trips to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the adoption of a diversity plan, and new experimental scholarships for incoming freshmen women in computing. She has received awards from NCWIT, Microsoft, and OSU for her mentoring and research.


Nayda Santiago, Ph.D., is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. Her research areas are computer performance evaluation and engineering education. Santiago is a founding member of the Computing Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institutions (CAHSI). For the past 12 years, she has been promoting undergraduate research and the Affinity Research Group model among the Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and in her own department. She also is active in FemProf, an organization aimed at encouraging undergraduate female computer science and computer engineering students to attend graduate school. Santiago has been recognized as a Distinguished Computer Engineer by the Puerto Rico Society of Professional Engineers and Surveyors, and has received honors for her educational achievements from the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference.

Santiago has an impressive record of caringly mentoring of undergraduate researchers into high-quality computing graduate programs at Research I institutions. She communicates the possibilities for graduate study and a research career to her students, and since 2004, 21 of her 56 undergraduate research mentees have entered graduate school.

In fall 2015, there were 35 undergraduate researchers working with her on 6 different projects, a department record. Santiago co-authors papers with her mentees and has them present their work at technical venues. These achievements are extraordinary because she is mentoring in a Hispanic-serving Masters I institution with limited internal resources for research support.


Margo Seltzer, Ph.D., is the Herchel Smith professor of computer science and the faculty director of the Center for Research on Computation and Society in Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Her research in computer systems, broadly defined, includes systems for data provenance, transaction processing, new architectures for parallel execution, and healthcare informatics. Seltzer also conducts research in pedagogy and the retention of women in computer science. Seltzer is an ACM Fellow, a Sloan Foundation Fellow in computer science, and has won awards for mentoring and teaching from Harvard. She is a member of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academies, and a past president of the USENIX Association. 

Seltzer has thoughtfully mentored 49 undergraduate students over her career, 16 of whom have matriculated into computing graduate studies. And many of these students have entered academia. She has co-authored 29 papers with her undergrad mentees, and has included them in her research team as full-fledged members. Seltzer takes deep personal interest in her mentees and interacts with them and their families beyond the research relationship. She serves as a role model and an effective advocate for the women undergraduates in the Harvard program. One of her mentees remarked, “I credit my undergraduate experience with Margo as the genesis of and essential training for my research career.”