This article is published in the March 2024 issue.

Mary Ann Leung Wins the 2024 CRA A. Nico Habermann Award

By Matt Hazenbush, Director of Communications

The Computing Research Association (CRA) has selected Dr. Mary Ann Leung, Founder and President of the Sustainable Horizons Institute, as the recipient of the 2024 CRA A. Nico Habermann Award, in recognition of her work developing and leading programs to increase the numbers and successes of computing researchers from groups minoritized in computing. 

The award, now in its 30th year, honors the late A. Nico Habermann, who headed the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate and was deeply committed to increasing the participation of people from groups that have been minoritized in tech. 

“Mary Ann’s extraordinary vision, leadership, and service to broadening participation in computing has touched the lives of so many people over the course of her career,” said Tracy Camp, CRA Executive Director and CEO. “As her nomination letters attest, her impact in building educational and career pathways for groups minoritized in tech is tremendous. It’s our privilege to include her among the distinguished group of past recipients of the CRA A. Nico Habermann Award.”  

Well known in the community for her impressive track record for impactful programmatic work, she is also a highly sought-after speaker on diversity, equity and inclusion, and has served on many conference, review, and advisory committees, including the DOE Advanced Scientific Computing Research Advisory Committee (ASCAC), one of the most important federal

advisory committees for the US computing sciences community.

“I am truly honored to be the recipient of the CRA A. Nico Habermann Award,” said Leung. “I do this work because of my passion for helping others, never expecting to get this kind of recognition.”   

A Career of Impact 

While earning her PhD in theoretical and computational physical chemistry from the University of Washington, in 2001 Leung became a recipient of the US Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (CSGF). She would later go on to serve as a program manager for the CSGF, which under her leadership saw major successes in increasing the number of members of underrepresented communities applying to the program. 

Her experience as a previous fellow brought a deep understanding of the perspectives and struggles of students from diverse backgrounds, which would become a theme of her career. 

“Working with so many gifted people from marginalized communities over the years has been a true gift to me,” said Leung. “When I came up with the idea for Sustainable Horizons Institute, I never imagined we would have the opportunity to open doors and collaborate with such gifted emerging scientists, technologists, and allies.”

In 2014, Leung founded the Sustainable Horizons Institute, a non-profit corporation that provides a platform and framework for her to collaborate with others on a variety of impactful broadening participation efforts. Soon thereafter, Leung and her organization began a partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on Sustainable Research Pathways (SRP), an innovative program that creates opportunities for a diverse group of university faculty and students to engage with research staff at the Berkeley Lab on science projects during a summer research experience. Under her guidance, the program has blossomed into one of the Lab’s principal vehicles for recruitment, and many program alumni have gone on to pursue graduate degrees, be hired full-time at the Berkeley Lab and other noteworthy institutions, and win prestigious national awards.

Leung has also led the organization and operation of the Broader Engagement (BE) Program at several recent SIAM conferences, which have expanded with each iteration since she originated the program in 2015. Based on the success of these programs, the BE Program was added to the 2022 SIAM Conference on Mathematics of Data Science. Anecdotes and data from participants demonstrate how the program helps participants make the most of the conferences, and how its post-conference mentorship activities expose them to professional opportunities and collaborations. 

In 2021, the DOE Exascale Computing Project (ECP) tapped Leung to join the ECP Task Force on Broadening Participation, through which she helped to establish the ECP Broadening Participation Initiative, which has the goal of expanding the pipeline and workforce for DOE high-performance computing. In 2023, the program expanded through a partnership with ECP and seven labs from the Computational Research Leadership Council (CRLC), and in summer 2023 the program facilitated nearly 200 faculty and student collaborations at 10 DOE national labs.

Congratulations, Dr. Leung!

Please join CRA in congratulating Dr. Leung on winning the 2024 CRA A. Nico Habermann Award! 

If you’re among the many whose life and career have been positively touched by Dr. Leung, consider reposting our announcement of her award on LinkedIn and share how her efforts to broaden participation in computing have impacted you, your colleagues, and our community.