Season's Greetings! You Belong @ CICS
Season's Greetings! You Belong @ CICS
You Belong At CICS: Diversity & Inclusive Community Newsletter
Erika Dawson-Head

Season's Greetings

Season's greetings and best wishes during this holiday season. If you do not celebrate any holidays, I wish you peace, love, and happiness.
This time of year, please remember there are people who don’t have extended families or can’t be with them. In addition, the increased loss of human lives due to the pandemic has intensified feelings of isolation and taken a heavy emotional toll on many.
If you are suffering loneliness right now and can think of a person who loves and supports you, try reaching out to them to check in with each other. If you can't, please remember that you are part of a large CICS family that cares about you, and that most of us are only a phone call, text message, email, or Zoom meeting away. You are greatly valued and you deserve all the support you need.
If you need help, it's here for you: UMass Amherst CCPH: Suicide Prevention.
❤️
Sincerely,
Erika Lynn Dawson Head
Director of Diversity and Inclusive Community Development

Shout Outs

Shout-Outs to Our Community: The Sequel

Our shout-out section in the last issue was so popular, we had to bring it back for a sequel—and this time, we opened it up to the entire CICS community. Here's what folks said ...
Nicolas van Kempen is an awesome TA buddy!
Evangelos Kalogerakis has done a fantastic job at making 590G an inclusive and immersive remote learning experience. I am sincerely grateful for all his efforts!
Thank you, Chloe Eggleston, for keeping the CICS Discord server a trans-inclusive forum for discussion!
A big shout out to Professor Deepak Ganesan for all the mentoring and advising over the years. Thanks for giving me time even when you were pressed for time. I wouldn't have survived the past few years of my PhD and would have dropped out, especially Summer and Fall 2020, if it wasn't for your support. Thank you for believing in me and constantly reminding me that I will be fine.
Thanks a ton, Philip Thomas, for taking time out to answer all my questions about postdoc positions and beyond. If it wasn't for your insights, I wouldn't have considered a postdoc. I also humbly appreciate your frankness in sharing your opinions and experiences. Thank you!
Shashank Lal was a really good friend to me this semester. He helped me persevere through some really difficult assignments and exams, and I'm thankful to be his friend :).
Anna Dao worked hard interviewing and writing for the Diversity and Inclusion Newsletter, so that twice a month my fellow CICS students and I could learn more about the great strides people at our school are making towards a more inclusive computer science community.
Marius Minea is a thorough, hardworking, and unbelievably dedicated professor. I took his 250 course, the subject of which is notoriously hard. Marius would consistently answer quiz and homework questions on our discussion forum within minutes, regardless of the time of day. The work he assigned was undeniably hard, but it was also the most thorough work I've ever had to do. Doing the assignments *forced* me to understand every facet of the ideas being taught. To me, this class is an embodiment of the idea that you can learn and achieve great things through hard work, and this is in large part due to the quality and support brought by Marius.
Marius Minea is best professor I have ever had at UMass. He made online learning the best experience. Always available to help—6am in the morning or 2am at night—I don’t think I will ever have a faculty member more dedicated than he is to teaching. He cares about every individual and knows how anyone is doing at any point in the course by their name, despite teaching classes with over 350 people. I would take every class with him if I could. I have never learned more or felt this cared about in such a large class. [He's] an absolute gem of a teacher and a person. I was going to transfer out of UMass, but I am seriously considering changing my mind because I don’t think I would get this level of academic support anywhere else, especially from a professor.
Chaitra Gopalappa has pushed me to really think about what I want to do in the future and identify my goals. She has also spent her time helping me not only with my research, but also in planning my future career plans. I truly would not be where I am now without her help.
Matthew Rattigan has taken hours of time out of his day to help me to apply to graduate schools and identify what I am truly interested in pursuing once I graduate.
Michelle Trim has not only helped me through the challenging time of applying to graduate schools, but she has also pushed me to challenge myself by taking courses that would be critical to my success in the future.
I was enrolled in Emery Berger's CS326 class this semester and it was by far the favorite CS class that I have taken at UMass. Emery is funny, inspiring, caring, and just an overall fantastic professor. I really hope he chooses to teach more courses at UMass in the future, as I would love to enroll in another one.
Joseph Spitzer and Nicolas Van Kempen were the TAs for Emery’s class [see above], and they were such a huge help to us throughout the semester. They were so caring and considerate of the students, and they spent so many extra hours helping us with our homework and projects. I would not have found so much success in this class without them. I really hope to have them as TAs in the future :).
Eileen Hamel and Malaika Ross work so hard to keep the graduate program functioning! Being virtual this semester has made it much harder for me to keep track of the program logistics and deadlines, and their work (and emails) have made that much easier.
Akanksha Atrey, Alexandra Camero, Sam DuBois

Community Profile:
COST Co-Chairs Akanksha Atrey, Alexandra Camero & Sam DuBois

Alexandra Camero, a doctoral student studying computational geometry, Akanksha Atrey, a doctoral student studying machine learning, and Sam DuBois, an undergraduate student studying computer science and computer engineering, are the co-chairs of the Community Outreach Student Team (COST) at CICS. COST focuses on helping students at UMass build a community to do outreach, working with educators from the high school and college level to connect students to computer science opportunities.
Atrey, one of the founders of the organization, believes that outreach is crucial to building representation in computer science. "Minority students may not know that computer science is a field that they can pursue a degree in,” Atrey notes, “So part of our goal is to encourage those students and bring awareness to computer science and [its] possibilities.”
Camero, the newest co-chair, is committed to serving as female representation to the younger students that COST reaches out to. “People tend to choose majors that they know something about and a lot of people don't know necessarily about STEM or CS,” she says. "I push myself to do so much outreach because I think it’s important for younger girls to see that there are older girls out there that are getting their PhDs in something that is not necessarily seen as feminine."
DuBois, a founder of the organization along with Atrey, also serves as the president of the UMass Robotics team, where he is leading efforts to get ready for the 2021 NASA Lunabotics Competition. As a student who was largely self-taught before coming to UMass, he wanted to provide resources to students to explore computing in the same way, saying, "I wanted to create a club … for kids to learn and be introduced to something they may have never seen before."
Lori Clarke

Faculty Spotlight: Lori Clarke

Lori Clarke, professor emerita, has been with CICS since 1975, when the then-department was called COINS (Computer and Information Science). At the time, there were about twelve faculty members in the department, and the field was still jockeying to establish itself. Nationally, the percentages of women and minorities were extremely low then—and continue to lag behind parity.
In both CICS and as a member of the Computing Research Association’s Committee on Widening Participation, she has worked on projects aimed at attracting and retaining computing students and researchers from historically underrepresented populations. She is optimistic that the field has become more aware of its representation problem, saying, “With this recent interest, I'm hoping that we will increase representation for undergraduates, graduate students, and at the faculty level. There's been some progress, but not nearly enough.”
Professor Clarke has been recognized for her research in software engineering, where she has worked on testing techniques, requirements engineering, and approaches for verifying safety properties of software systems. Recently, she has turned her attention to critical human-intensive processes—those that involve humans, software systems, and devices—such as reducing errors in life-critical medical procedures like cardiac surgery.
Clarke looks forward to the new year and hopes that, once the pandemic is over, she will once again be able to visit with her children and grandchildren.
George Baitinger

Staff Spotlight:
George Baitinger

George Baitinger works as a grants and contracts coordinator for CICS. Originally from Oregon, Baitinger has worked in a wide range of roles, most notably as a ranger for the National Parks Service. Part of his duties as an interpretive ranger was to administrate campgrounds, which is where he gained his finance background. He also spent twelve years in the registrar's office in the University of Oregon.
Baitinger has found that the common denominator in all of his diverse positions was a requirement to help people solve situations and problems. His drive to help others can also be seen in his experience with community emergency response teams, fire training, and involvement in search and rescue groups. As he approaches retirement in the next few years, Baitinger looks forward to being back in Oregon, where he can enjoy his favorite activities, such as being in the outdoors, hiking, and mountaineering.
Lynn Conway

IBM Apologizes to Computing Pioneer Lynn Conway

Fifty-two years after being fired from IBM due to anti-trans bigotry, pioneering computer scientist Lynn Conway was recently honored with a lifetime achievement award and apology by the company at a virtual event attended by company employees. The event, which she described as “like returning home,” was a long-overdue tribute to a brilliant career in industry and academia.
From IBM, Conway went to Memorex, then Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and a visiting professorship at MIT, where she created and taught an experimental course on Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) chip design based on her foundational research with Carver Mead of Caltech. After PARC, she worked for DARPA, spearheading Department of Defense research into machine intelligence technology, and then spent 15 years at the University of Michigan’s engineering school, retiring as a professor emerita in 1999.
As John Anderson, the president of the National Academy of Engineering put it, “Lynn Conway is not only a revolutionary pioneer in the design of VLSI systems . . . [but] her perseverance has been a reminder to society that it should not be blind to the innovations of women, people of color, or others who don’t fit long outdated—but unfortunately, persistent—perceptions of what an engineer looks like.”
In addition to her foundational work in computer engineering, she is now a public advocate for transgender rights and education, and has won awards from many advocacy organizations, including being named one of the “Stonewall 40 trans heroes” by the International Court System and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2009. She was recognized by Time magazine in 2014 as one of the most influential LGBTQ figures in American culture.
Learn more about Lynn Conway:
Events

Graduate Student Event: Stress and Your Brain

For current master's and PhD students: learn to understand your nervous system, so you can work with your brain to achieve your goals! 
Tuesday, January 5, 11:00am–Noon

Graduate Student Event: Imposter Syndrome & Stereotype Threat

For current master's and PhD students. Imposter syndrome, the feeling that you are unqualified for work you are already successfully doing, affects us all. Come to this session to learn strategies for "beating that imposter feeling."
Tuesday, January 12, 11:00am–Noon
Have a great break!
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