This year, the CRA board of directors selected two recipients of the 2018 A. Nico Habermann Award: Juan E. Gilbert of the University of Florida and Manuel A. Pérez Quiñones of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Both individuals are being recognized for their contributions aimed at increasing the number and success of members of underrepresented groups in the computing research community. Gilbert has had an incredible impact on diversifying the field of computer science, especially on increasing the number of African-American Ph.D. recipients and faculty members in all of the institutions in which he has worked. Pérez Quiñones has tirelessly and passionately worked throughout his career for diversity and inclusion in computing at all levels, spanning from high school to Ph.D., especially for Latino/as.
Juan E. Gilbert is the chair of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Department at the University of Florida (UF). He is a role model for being an effective change agent in the field of computing, and he has demonstrated a model for how to attract people of color to computer science and help them thrive. Gilbert is the single leading producer of African-American Ph.D. recipients in computer science and a leading producer of minority Ph.D. recipients. Since 2006, he has produced 13 African-American, three Hispanic and nine women Ph.D. recipients across three research institutions. Gilbert has also been incredibly effective at attracting African-American faculty at each of these institutions.
Gilbert leads the Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences (iAAMCS) program, which is part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Broadening Participation in Computing Alliance. Under his leadership, the primary goal of iAAMCS is increasing the number of African-Americans pursuing and receiving Ph.D.s in computing sciences. iAAMCS works with CRA-W, and previously with the Coalition to Diversify Computing, to increase African-American participation in the Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates (DREU) program. Within DREU, iAAMCS has mentored more than 50 undergraduates. Since 2013, Gilbert has personally mentored 21 undergraduate DREU students. He has also published several articles pertaining to the state of African-Americans in computing, successful strategies for mentoring students, using culture with technology to advance learning, and making voting accessible.
Manuel A. Pérez Quiñones is the associate dean of the College of Computing and Informatics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). He has effectively led diversity efforts by computing professional societies such as the Coalition to Diversify Computing (CDC) and the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology (CMD-IT). Pérez Quiñones has also contributed to educational programs aimed at high school through graduate school educators, such as CS@VT High School Teachers’ workshops (which led to ACM CSTA chapters being established across the state), and the NCWIT Pacesetters program. Further, he has given talks and served on panels to increase public awareness of the need to greatly increase the numbers of Latino/a students and professionals in computing. He has advised 10 Ph.D. students and 14 Master’s students, and he has served on more than 20 Ph.D. committees and 50 student committees.
His history of diversity leadership through professional service is unparalleled. Pérez Quiñones founded and contributed to significant efforts, including the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VAHLEN), the UNCC CCI Corporate Mentoring Program for Women in Computing, the Tapia Conference (program co-chair in 2009 and 2014), SIGCSE, CRA-W Collaborative Research Experiences for Undergraduates (CREU; co-chair from 2006-2010), CRA Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP; advisory board from 2014-2015), and the Hispanic mailing list that supports Hispanic Ph.D. students and faculty.
He has received three NSF Broadening Participation in Computing Alliance grants. His workshops on inclusion, identity, and belonging has influenced change in the academic computing culture by bringing forward challenges and strategies to those who have the most influence on students and the departmental and classroom culture (e.g., teachers, faculty, and graduate students). Through his work in broadening participation, he has provided guidance and inspiration to decision makers, academic institutions, industry, and most importantly, young students.
About the Award and Selection Committee
This award honors the late A. Nico Habermann, who headed NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate and was deeply committed to increasing the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in computing research. With this award, CRA recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions aimed at increasing the numbers and/or successes of underrepresented members in the computing research community. The award acknowledges work in areas of government affairs, educational programs, professional societies, public awareness, and leadership that has a major impact on advancing these members in the computing research community.
This year’s selection committee includes Carla E. Brodley (Northeastern University; committee chair), Ann Quiroz Gates (University of Texas at El Paso), and Kunle Olukotun (Stanford University).