UD computer scientist receives Undergraduate Research Mentoring (URM) Award from National Center for Women & Information Technology

Lori Pollock, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Delaware, has received an Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award from the National Center for Women & Information Technology. She was presented with the award on May 16, 2018.

“The NCWIT Undergraduate Research Mentoring (URM) Award recognizes Academic Alliance representatives at non-profit, U.S. institutions (excluding U.S. territories) for their outstanding mentorship, high-quality research opportunities, recruitment of women and minority students, and efforts to encourage and advance undergraduates in computing-related fields,” the organization said in a news release. The Academic Alliance is group of more than 1,700 representatives from more than 500 colleges and universities.

Pollock will use the $5,000 award to support five undergraduate students in computer science who plan to participate in the computer science study abroad program in New Zealand during winter 2019.

Sara Sprenkle, an associate professor of computer science at Washington and Lee University, was an undergraduate student at Gettysburg College when she was paired with Pollock as a mentor through the CRA-W, Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research, Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates (DREU) Program in 1998.

Sprenkle described the pairing as a “lucky break.”

“Lori is the epitome of a mentor,” said Sprenkle. “She introduced me to new ideas, as she wanted to mentor young minds and did not expect you to know everything.  She showed me what computer science research is — asking unanswered questions, thoroughly analyzing problems, and finding creative ways to answer those questions.  She provided structure and guidance in how to approach problems, which can be daunting for an undergraduate student.  She showed me what graduate school was, as I had the chance to see what graduate students did in her lab.  I also got to see the personal life of a female faculty member (there weren’t any women computer science faculty at Gettysburg at the time), as she balanced work and a home life with her husband and three young children.”

Pollock joined the UD faculty in 1991. She does research in software engineering and computer science education. She is also an advocate for broadening participation in computer science at every level, including K-12. She is leading efforts that focus on professional development for computer science teachers, broadening access to computer science education, and incorporating computational thinking throughout the undergraduate curriculum.