Amato elected to CRA board and co-chairs CRA-W


CRA_newsletter.jpgDr. Nancy M. Amato, Unocal Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and senior director of honors programs in the Dwight Look College of Engineering, has taken on two important leadership roles with the Computing Research Association (CRA).

In July, Amato began a three-year term as an elected member of the CRA Board of Directors. The board manages all CRA business and includes 33 distinguished leaders in computing research from academia and industry, 24 of whom are elected by the CRA membership and nine who are appointed to represent the major computing professional societies, including AAAI, ACM, IEEE-CS, SIAM, and USENIX.

In September, Amato began a three-year term as co-chair of CRA-W, CRA's Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research. CRA-W is an action oriented organization dedicated to increasing the number of women participating in computer science and engineering research and education at all levels. Each of the 25 CRA-W Board members directs or co-directs a project.

Amato has been a member of the CRA-W board since 2000, serving as the director (2000-2003) or co-director (2003-present) of CRA-W/CDC's DREU (Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program. The highly selective DREU program matches promising undergraduate women and undergraduate men from under-represented groups in computing with faculty mentors for a summer research experience at the faculty member's institution. Since 1994, roughly 800 undergraduates from 300 institutions and mentors from 100 host research universities have participated in DREU. Amato's tenure with DREU oversaw a large scale-up in the program, with applications increasing ten-fold (from about 50 in the year 2000 to more than 450 in 2014) and participation increasing more than three-fold (from about 20 per year to 60-70 per year). A study conducted in 2011 showed that 39 percent of the DREU participants attended graduate school in computing as compared to 22 percent of undergraduates who instead had a comparable, but some other, undergraduate research experience. Amato's work with DREU in particular, led to her being awarded the 2014 CRA A. Nico Habermann award that is presented to someone who has made outstanding contributions aimed at increasing the numbers and/or success of under-represented groups in the computing research community. 

Amato co-directs the Department of Computer Science's Parasol Lab and her main areas of research focus are motion planning and robotics, computational biology and geometry, and parallel and distributed computing. She received undergraduate degrees in mathematical sciences and economics from Stanford University, and master's and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, respectively. The honors Amato has received in recognition of her excellence in research and service include the 2014 CRA A. Nico Habermann Award, the inaugural 2014 NCWIT Harrold and Notkin Research and Graduate Mentoring Award, the 2013 IEEE Hewlett-Packard/Harriett B. Rigas Award, and an NSF CAREER Award. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and of the World Technology Network (WTN).

CRA is an association of more than 200 North American academic departments of computer science, computer engineering and related fields, industrial and government research laboratories, and affiliated professional societies. CRA's mission is to enhance innovation by joining with industry, government and academia to strengthen research and advanced education in computing. CRA executes this mission by leading the computing research community, informing policymakers and the public, and facilitating the development of strong, diverse talent in the field.