CSC News

October 16, 2008

WiCS Members Receive Awards to Attend Grace Hopper Conference

NC State Computer Science was well represented at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing held earlier this month in Colorado, as 12 members of the Women in Computer Science (WiCS) student organization received travel awards to attend the conference.

The computer science students attending the conference included: doctoral students, Marivic Bonto-Kane, Gurleen Kaur, Lirida Kercelli, Jennifer Robison, and Jessica Young; M.S. student, Rashmi Bhat; seniors, Jessica Graham, Penny Markijohn, Yuffany Ngui, and Kate Lemanski (also the Grace Hopper Scholarship recipient); junior, Mackenzie Corcoran; and a sophomore, Sonya Kori.

Claris Castillo, who completed her Ph.D. in August, was also at the conference as an NSF scholar.  She presented a poster on her Ph.D. work, led a discussion on "How to get your dream job after graduation" and served as a panelist. Another recent graduate, Harini Ramapasad, presented in the Ph.D. forum.

At the conference, the students had the opportunity to connect with over 1,400 other women with similar interests in research and industry, as well as learn about different aspects of the field and direct their resumes to recruiting companies.

The students was able to attend the conference, in large part, thanks to the generous support of WiCS sponsors, Cisco Systems, Tekelec, I-cubed, Harris Corp, AT&T and the Vanguard Group.

“It was an amazing trip, and I think the more people who see it will consider going in the future,” said Markijohn. “It was life changing for us to be surrounded by over 1,400 other women in computing.”

One of the students’ most exciting experiences at the conference was meeting Fran Allen, an American computer science pioneer in the field of optimizing compilers.  Her achievements include seminal work in compilers, code optimizations and parallelization. Allen (shown here with some of the NC State attendees) was the first female IBM Fellow, and in 2006, she became the first woman to win the Turing Award, which is given annually by the Association for Computing Machinery to an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community.

“Being a woman in computer science can be shocking and tough starting out, and just knowing that there are so many successful women is inspiring and motivating,” said Markijohn.

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is a series of conferences designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront.  Presenters at the conference are leaders in their respective fields, representing industrial, academic and government communities.  Leading researchers present their current work, while special sessions focus on the role of women in today’s technology fields, including computer science, information technology, research and engineering. For more information, visit


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