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Computing Ph.D. students attend prestigious CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop


By Fran Broderick


Recently two Golisano College Ph.D. students were selected to attend the prestigious Computer Research Association – Women (CRA-W) Grad Cohort Workshop in San Francisco. The event afforded the students the opportunity to network with and learn from some of the most notable female researchers in computing.

The first-year Ph.D. students, Paula Garcia and Noella Kollash, attended the conference from April 10-11, following encouragement from Ph.D. Program Director Dr. Pengcheng Shi and the students’ Ph.D. advisor and Distinguished Professor Dr. Vicki Hanson. Dr. Hanson is the founder of IBM’s Accessibility Research group and one of the most respected researchers in the fields of human-computer interaction and accessibility.

“The workshop included several speaker series focused on research development,” explains Garcia. “During these sessions we learned effective communication strategies as well as insights on finding research topics and publishing in top venues. In addition to these speaker series, there was a session on The Future of Computer Science presented by Jim Kurose, the assistant director of the National Science Foundation.”

The CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop was founded in 2004 with support from industry, academia and the National Science Foundation (NSF). According to the program site the Workshop’s stated mission is to, “increase the ranks of senior women in computing by building and mentoring nationwide communities of women through their graduate studies.”

“Several speakers presented topics and information that resonated with my current journey and educational goals,” Garcia says. “It was inspiring to learn about their experiences and the accomplishments they have made in this field.”

Dr. Hanson concurred, explaining, “This is a great opportunity [for the students] to network and receive mentoring from highly successful female researchers in computing.”

The experience seems to have been a success for Garcia who interacted with leading female researchers from companies that included Yahoo!, Intel, IBM and Microsoft: “Overall, the workshop was an invaluable learning experience that has prepared me for the rigor of a PhD study,” says Garcia. “The workshop has also allowed me to contextualize the application of my work and has made me curious to explore parallel topics.”