CI Fellowships Help Postdoctoral Researchers Launch Academic Careers in Uncertain Economic Times

10/22/2020 Laura Schmitt, Illinois CS

Three recent doctoral graduates with ties to Illinois CS have received 2020 Computing Innovation Fellowships.

Written by Laura Schmitt, Illinois CS

Three recent doctoral graduates with ties to Illinois CS have received 2020 Computing Innovation (CI) Fellowships, which are designed to help recent and soon-to-be PhD graduates launch their careers in uncertain economic times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deepak Kumar
Deepak Kumar

Illinois CS graduate Deepak Kumar is conducting his CI Fellow postdoctoral research at Stanford University, building tools and investigating techniques to help mitigate hate and harassment online. He’s interested in learning how to incorporate a diverse set of user experiences to improve current machine learning-based tools like Perspective API.

At Illinois, Kumar was a member of Michael Bailey’s research group, where he broadly focused on network security and privacy. He investigated the structure of web dependencies on the Internet, identified non-compliant certificate authorities, and uncovered vulnerabilities in Amazon Alexa’s voice assistant.

Grace Yen
Grace Yen

Yu-Chun Grace Yen is conducting postdoctoral research on feedback interpretation tools at the University of California, San Diego. Specifically, she is designing a pedagogical tool that promotes student contributions to virtual design critique while maintaining the instructor’s ability to manage and monitor class discussions.

As a member of Brian Bailey’s research group at Illinois, Yen addressed the challenges and opportunities triggered by the use of online feedback systems for design innovation education. In particular, she found that learners often fail to interpret and act on a collection of creative feedback, even when the feedback is effective and timely.

Taking a design-based research method, Yen synthesized methods and insights from computer science, design, and psychology to develop novel tools and interventions for supporting the interpretation of creative feedback.

Kari George
Kari George

Kari George, who earned her PhD in Higher Education and Organizational Change at UCLA, is conducting postdoctoral research on ways to broaden participation in computing with Illinois CS assistant professor Colleen Lewis. George is using mixed-methods’ approaches to examine PhD student experiences with peers and faculty, overall interest in the profession, and faculty mentoring and advising practices.

At UCLA, George was a member and senior data manager of Linda Sax’s BRAID Research (Building, Recruiting, and Inclusion for Diversity) team focused on efforts to diversify undergraduate computing. She examined psychosocial factors (e.g., sense of belonging and computing identity) influencing student outcomes, educational and career aspirations for students in computing, and national trends in broadening participation in computing.

About the 2020 CI Fellows program
The CI Fellows program is sponsored by the Computing Research Association and its Computing Community Consortium with strong support from the National Science Foundation. The 2020 CI Fellows class is comprised of 59 researchers, who were selected from an applicant pool of 550.

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This story was published October 22, 2020.