Clara Caldeira (left) and Houda El Mimouni
Two future researchers from the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering have been named 2020 Computing Innovation Fellows from the Computing Research Association.
Clara Caldeira, who recently earned her Ph.D. from the University of California-Irvine, and Houda El Mimouni, who will be receiving her Ph.D. from Drexel University, will be joining the Luddy School in January 2021. They were two of just 59 researchers who were selected for the fellowship out of 550 applicants to the program, which provides a career-enhancing bridge for recent and soon-to-be Ph.D. graduates in computing.
Caldeira submitted a proposal to study smart home technology for aging in place in the U.S. and Latin America to better understand how collected data can be sued and how cultural background impacts users’ perspectives and attitudes.
“One of the most important aspects of my work life is believing that I am contributing to something important,” Caldeira said. “Now, more than ever, we need innovations in computing to help address the challenges we are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Having the infrastructure and support to contribute to the field of computing as a researcher allows me to use my background and skills to the best of my ability to be part of this effort.”
Caldeira will be working with Associate Dean of Research Kay Connelly at Luddy.
“I am thrilled to be working with Dr. Caldeira on technology for older adults,” Connelly said. “Her existing and future work meshes perfectly with aging-in-place work we already have within the school.”
El Mimouni will be working with Associate Dean for Graduate Education Selma Sabanovic on a study that will use mobile remote presences to facilitate low-density classes and support students and faculty who have immunodeficiencies or other risk factors during COVID19 pandemic.
“Getting to work on robotic telepresence research is thrilling,” El Mimouni said. “It is a topic I was tremendously excited about but was not able to investigate as a Ph.D. student because of COVID-19. Plus, being mentored by a social robotics super star Dr. Selma Šabanović makes it all a dream come true. I am looking forward to all the projects and research that I will be working on with her.”
The CI Fellows program was launched by the CRA and funded by the National Science Foundation in 2008 to combat hiring disruptions due to economic downturns or other issues that might otherwise force Ph.D. scholars to abandon their work. The COVID-19 has caused many academic institutions to announce a hiring freeze, and the CI Fellows program provides an opportunity for researchers to continue in their field. The Luddy School received the maximum allowed number of CI Fellows for one institution.
“Houda’s topic is timely due to the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has affected teaching and learning,” Sabanovic said. “It also looks toward the future by exploring more broadly how the physical embodiment of robots can allow students to explore and connect with people in other geographical locations and cultures.”