"Computer systems are the backbone of modern applications," says Brown CS Professor Malte Schwarzkopf, "and the science of building efficient, easy-to-use, and trustworthy computer systems is about discovering key ideas that help make people get more out of their computers. Great ideas in systems have had stunning practical impact on the industry. But systems research, like much of CS research in general, suffers from a lack of diversity: only a handful of papers in the top systems conferences have non-male lead authors."
However, a change may be coming. Thanks to an exploreCSR award from Google, Malte is leading a team of Brown CS faculty that includes Nick DeMarinis, Shriram Krishnamurthi, and Nikos Vasilakis in a program, now in its second year, that seeks to improve diversity in systems research through a year-long program of research experience. It's for undergraduate students in CS who identify as women and/or related marginalized genders. With no prior experience required, it allows students to learn about careers in research, discover how people navigate graduate school and the publication process, and work on a systems research project of their own with Brown faculty.
Running from January through May of 2023, the program will include bi-weekly seminar talks, panels on demystifying the graduate application process, Q&A's with current grad students and alums, attendance at Brown CS lab meetings, and participation in Brown's undergraduate research symposium. Participants will be paired with a faculty mentor who will help guide them through a semester-long research project, and the program culminates when they present their work at the Brown CS Undergraduate Research Symposium in late May. Throughout the semester, participants will be full members of a research group at Brown and also receive a $400 stipend.
"Given that computer systems crucially shape all our lives today," says Malte, "it is critical that computer systems researchers are representative of the population as a whole. Unfortunately, that's not the case today, and for bad reasons: students may not know about the opportunities in research, such as fully-funded graduate study programs, or may erroneously assume that such careers are only open to those who already have many years of experience. This program seeks to help build a pipeline of excellent PhD researchers of diverse gender identities, who might not otherwise have considered a career in computer systems research. We're particularly excited to work with students whose home institutions may offer only limited opportunities to develop hands-on research experience, but everyone is welcome to apply!"
For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communications Manager Jesse C. Polhemus.