Four Grad Students chosen for Service Awards in Climate, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at CSE

The award recognizes students who make significant contributions toward increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the division.

For the second year, CSE is recognizing graduate students in our division for their significant contributions to the community and for their actions in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion at CSE.

According to Prof. Westley Weimer, chair of the CSE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee, these awards recognize “commitment and action in working to improve the climate of the CSE division.” Each award includes a $1,000 honorarium.

Multiple high-quality nominations were submitted for the awards this year, and a committee of faculty and staff selected recipients by anonymous vote.

The 2021 recipients of the 2nd annual climate and DEI awards are PhD students Emily Bao, Lauren Biernacki, Laura Biester, and Divya Ramesh. Below are excerpts from their nominations regarding each of their contributions.

Emily Bao

Yuwei “Emily” Bao

“Since becoming president of CSEG, Yuwei has already led successful efforts in building the CSE community by organizing a CSE-wide Halloween Trick or Treat event and various socials. In every event that we plan with Yuwei, her goal is always to foster a sense of community in CSE. She strives to involve not only the students, but faculty and staff in our community. She is always careful in designing events such that all student groups of diverse backgrounds would feel welcomed, and have a sense of belonging at these events.”

Lauren Biernacki

Lauren Biernacki

“Lauren’s involvement in DEI efforts has led to the development of several changes that have positively impacted the culture of our department. She was the one that conceived the idea of an “Introduction to Graduate Studies (EECS 598)” course, which she single-handedly designed and taught in 2019, with a vision to help students from marginalized backgrounds gain equal footing in our graduate program. The course has been massively successful, is currently on its third offering this Fall, and has won a grant from the college of engineering to help expand its offering in CSE.”

Laura Biester

Laura Biester

“Laura is deeply dedicated to working towards increasing the number of women and other underrepresented minorities in CSE. Through her instruction of the EECS 198, Laura has introduced tens of students – primarily women and underrepresented minorities – to the field of Computer Science. With her innovative teaching methods, her dedication to help every student in the class, and her contagious excitement about the field, Laura has managed to not only teach programming skills to the students in her class, but she was also able to get them excited about this discipline.”

Divya Ramesh

Divya Ramesh

“Divya has been at the forefront of the accountability efforts that have not only held our department to higher standards, but also resulted in several actions such as conducting the climate assessments, revising hiring practices, and increasing financial support for student-led support organizations. Divya has also promoted conversations about the intersection of DEI issues and technology through the Tech + Society Reading Group, which she founded with Nel Escher. This reading group has fostered important conversations on difficult topics like dismantling offensive terms indoctrinated in the computing discipline.”

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