This article is published in the March 2020 issue.

CRA Education Committee Selects Two New Graduate Fellows

CRA’s Education Committee (CRA-E) has recently selected two 2020 CRA-E Graduate Fellows – Ian Ludden from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Jean Salac from the University of Chicago.

Ian LuddenIan is a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign advised by Sheldon Jacobson. He earned his B.S. in Computer Engineering and Mathematics at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in November 2016 and worked as a software engineer developing healthcare integration tools before starting graduate school. His research interests include algorithmic game theory, graph theory, and optimization, and his current projects apply these fields to political redistricting. On the side, he mentors undergraduate research projects developing predictive models for the NCAA March Madness men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. He has served as a teaching assistant for six semesters, primarily for CS Theory courses, and was granted the privilege of teaching his own section of discrete mathematics in summer 2020.

Ian is passionately exploring a teaching-focused academic career through experiences such as training new CS teaching assistants through the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, working as a course aide for the teaching and leadership seminar for new TAs in the Grainger College of Engineering, and attending the CRA-E academic careers workshop at FCRC 2019.

Jean SalacJean is a computer science Ph.D. student and NSF Graduate Fellow at the University of Chicago working with Professor Diana Franklin. She earned her M.S. from UChicago in 2020 and her B.S. from the University of Virginia in 2017, both in computer science. Her research interests include computer science education and human-computer interaction. Her doctoral research focuses on identifying barriers young children face when learning how to program and developing strategies to overcome such barriers. Her work has been presented at the Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE), International Computing Education Conference (ICER), Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (SIGCHI), and Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, and has also earned an honorable mention for Best Paper at CHI.

Jean is passionate about broadening participation in computing and STEM more broadly. She is active in several local diversity initiatives, from founding her department’s Graduate Women in CS initiatives to recruiting and retaining graduate students from marginalized identities with the grassroots organization GRIT. She is a co-organizer of the Chicago Women in STEM symposium and has previously co-organized the Transcending Boundaries Research Symposium for scholars of color. She has also participated in CRA-WP programs.

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.