Dumais Athena Lecturer Award


Microsoft Research’s Dumais Changed the Way People Search for Information

NEW YORK, April 8, 2014 – ACM-W (The Association for Computing Machinery’s Council on Women in Computing) today named Susan T. Dumais of Microsoft Research as the 2014-2015 Athena Lecturer. Dumais introduced novel algorithms and interfaces for interactive retrieval that have made it easier for people to find, use and make sense of information. Her research, at the intersection of human-computer interaction and information retrieval, has broad applications for understanding and improving searching and browsing from the Internet to the desktop. The Athena Lecturer award celebrates women researchers who have made fundamental contributions to computer science. It includes a $10,000 honorarium provided by Google Inc. /ACM-W-Athena-Lectures

“Dumais has helped us understand that the search is not the end goal,” said Mary Jane Irwin, who heads the ACM-W awards committee. “Her focus is on understanding when and why people search, and presenting results in context to help integrate those results into the larger search process. Her sustained contributions have shaped the thinking and direction of human-computer interaction and information retrieval, and influenced generations of student interns through collaborative projects with academic and industry partners.”

Dumais’ initial research demonstrated that different people use different vocabulary to describe the same thing, and that this mismatch limits the success of traditional keyword-based information retrieval methods. To build search systems that avoided the vocabulary problem, she and her colleagues invented Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). A key feature of LSI is its ability to extract the latent conceptual structure from a large collection of texts by analyzing the associations between terms that occur in similar contexts, thus enabling a search engine to retrieve using concepts rather than keywords. Beyond information retrieval, LSI has been used to model various aspects of human cognition such as language acquisition and textual coherence.

Recently, Dumais’ research has analyzed how web content changes over time and how people revisit web pages, establishing that re-visitation patterns are influenced by user intent and changes in content. Her results have produced a retrieval model that uses web page changes to improve search ranking, and new tools to help people understand how the information they interact with changes over time in both expected and unexpected ways. Finally, her research on user modeling and context has enabled search engines to personalize search experiences for different individuals.

The author of more than 200 articles on information science, human-computer interaction, and cognitive science, Dumais holds several patents on novel retrieval algorithms and interfaces.


Dumais is Distinguished Scientist and Deputy Managing Director of the Microsoft Research Lab in Redmond, Washington. Previously, at Bellcore and Bell Labs, she worked on Latent Semantic Indexing. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Washington, and has been a visiting faculty member at Stevens Institute of Technology, New York University, and the University of Chicago.

An ACM Fellow, she was elected to the CHI Academy and the National Academy of Engineering, and received the SIGIR Gerald Salton Award for Lifetime Achievement. She is past chair of ACM’s Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval (SIGIR) and serves on the editorial boards of several ACM journals.

Dumais is a graduate of Bates College with a B.S. degree in Mathematics and Psychology, and a Ph.D. degree in Cognitive and Mathematical Psychology from Indiana University.

The Athena Lecturer is invited to present a lecture at an ACM event. Dumais’ lecture will be delivered at …. Each year, the Athena Lecturer honors a preeminent woman computer scientist. Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom; with her knowledge and sense of purpose, she epitomizes the strength, determination, and intelligence of the “Athena Lecturers.” The 2014-2015 Athena Lecturer award will be presented at the ACM Annual Awards Banquet, June 21, in San Francisco, CA.

About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery www.acm.org, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.

About ACM-W

ACM-W is the ACM Council on Women in Computing . It celebrates, informs and supports women in computing, and works with the ACM-W community of computer scientists, educators, employers and policy makers to improve working and learning environments for women.

ACM-W Connections – April, 2014

Welcome from the ACM-W Chair

– Valerie Barr, ACM-W Chair

In this issue of ACM-W Connections, we have news about some exciting recent activities organized by ACM-W India and follow up information from the March 1 womENcourage Celebration of Women in Computing organized by ACM-W Europe. We have a report from the first Caribbean Celebration of Women in Computing, information about recent recipients of the ACM-W Scholarships, and a call for information about ACM-W Chapters.

As we head toward the end of the 2013-2014 academic year, ACM-W would like to extend our hearty thanks to Jeff Dean, Senior Fellow at Google. Jeff made a generous donation to ACM-W that has funded the majority of our scholarship awards this year. We are extremely grateful for Jeff’s support for women in computing in general, and our ACM-W scholarship program in particular.

News From ACM-W India

Talk by Women IT Professional at Chennai, India

A talk on Cloud Computing is scheduled for April 25th, 2014 at Chennai. The talk will be delivered by Ms. Hemalatha Bhaskar Senior Cloud Solutions Architect and Technical Leader, Hewlett Packard, Bangalore. The talk will broadly cover the following aspects: why Cloud over traditional IT; Cloud Characteristics; Deployment and service models.

CODhER Hackathon

CODhER was a first-of-its-kind initiative to promote participation among women in technical events. This was a one-day event held on 23rd March. The event was organized and hosted by the ACM Student Chapter, College of Engineering, Guindy, Chennai. This event was exclusively for women programmers who have a passion for application development and coding in general. The event was supported by Jugadoo.com and sponsored by ACM-W India and Indix. There were 92 registrations from various colleges all through India. On the actual day, there were only 19 teams (46 participants). The task was to develop either a web application or a mobile application. Time was allotted for each team to present their idea and code. The best three ideas (teams) were awarded prizes.

News From ACM-W Europe

ACM-W Europe womenENcourage Celebration of Women in Computing

“I am full of positive feelings after the conference. I don’t feel alone any more, knowing that there are so many successful women all over the world with very similar experiences like mine.”

Feedback from conference attendees shows that 95% of attendees agree with the above quote. Attendees are more inspired from the speakers and role models. Eighty-five percent of the attendees have learned the importance of increasing their network and confirm that they plan using this chance to meet with experienced women to improve their career.

Additionally feedback, messages, and posts from the attendees clearly show their expectations were fulfilled by the womENcouage celebration of women in computing and that the event had a positive impact on the attendees. One student wrote that she was on the verge of dropping her PhD due to insufficient funding but attending womENcourage encouraged her to act immediately to find support so she could continue. She is one of the 80% of attendees who are more committed to their career because of the event.

We were successful in reaching the goal for this first event of ACM-W Europe which was to encourage and inspire undergraduate and graduate female students and increase their commitment to pursuing their careers. Inspiring role models like Wendy Hall, Carole Goble, Yasemin Altun, amazing panelists, and the unconference session inspired and motivated the attendees as evidenced by their enthusiasm.

With generous support from Google, Intel, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Facebook, Yahoo and Cisco it was possible to fund 54 students to attend the event. ACM-W Europe thanks all the organizers, volunteers, sponsors, supporters, speakers, panelists and the attendees for contributing to reach our goal.

Please add yourself to the womENcourage mailing list.

The next ACM-W Europe womENcourage Celebration of Women in Computing will be held at Uppsala University, Sweden in September 2015.

Save the Date – 18-29 August 2014 Informatica Feminale

Informatica Feminale – the 17th international summer university for women students and professionals in computing will be organized by University of Bremen in Germany from 18-29 August 2014. Every year Informatica Feminale offers compact teachings in computer science for women students from all types of universities and colleges as well as for women IT professionals interested in further training.

You will experience two weeks of studies, earn certificates and credit points, and establish a network with women having manifold backgrounds, all in a friendly and stimulating environment at the University of Bremen. Courses will be taught in English and German.

Registration will start in May. More on www.informatica-feminale.de/en/.

New from ACM-W Celebrations

– Jodi Tims, Celebrations Chair

Last month we mentioned that the Celebrations project would be rolling out new web pages aimed at facilitating the gathering and dissemination of information related to the conferences. Coordinators of each Celebration should expect to receive an email before the end of April that will provide details for creating a login and registering your Celebration as well as providing details of each event as it is planned and after it has occurred. Development of the web project was aided by two of my students at Baldwin Wallace University – Jayme Frantz and Deanna Biesan. I thank them for their efforts and am confident that we will be better able to support our conferences going forward because of their hard work.

The First Caribbean Celebration

The First Caribbean Celebration of Women in Computing (CCWiC 2014) was held in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, on February 27-28, 2014. The participation of 192 women included 38 high school girls, 29 parents and teachers, 52 graduate and undergraduate students, and 73 attendees from academia and industry. CCWiC 2014 promoted diversity with efforts that address the decline of women who choose computing related professions. CCWiC 2014 offered opportunities for mentoring, networking, and technical/career development for women in computing.

Four keynote addresses were held during the conference. Nagin Cox, a NASA engineer, made a presentation on the Mars curiosity project. AJ Brush, Senior Researcher at Microsoft talked about her work as Director of the Lab of Things. Brian Gonzalez, Director of the Global Education Sector at Intel, spoke about Intel’s work in supporting technology education in developing countries. Karen Alkoby, faculty at Gallaudet University and the first deaf women to hold a PhD in Computer Science, presented a talk entitled “Overcoming the Impossible”.

The conference also included the Aspirations in Computing Award Ceremony held by Georgia Tech University and the National Center for Women in Technology. Fourteen High School girls were either award winners or finalists in this competition which is held annually in Puerto Rico.

CCWiC included an academic fair for promoting computing programs at Higher Learning institutions in PR and the US, and a job fair for graduate and undergraduate students. In addition, a research poster session was held in which high school students visited posters by graduate and undergraduate student working in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Computational Math, and Information Technology. Panels on the status of women in computing in PR were presented along with technical talks.

In addition to ACM-W, CCWiC 2014 was sponsored by the College of Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez (UPRM), the Computer and Networking Laboratory at UPRM, Microsoft Research, the Computing Alliance for Hispanic-Serving Institutions (CAHSI), Texas Instruments, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Rock Solid Technologies, Google, Travelers, and CIAPR (Colegio de Ingenieros y Agrimensores de PR).

News from Scholarships

Congratulations to the most recent recipients of the ACM-W scholarships to attend research conferences! The awardees are Adedoyin Adegoke Marcela Araujo, Diana Darabi, Anita Gilbert, Carly Karas, Nadin Kökciyan, Irene Manotas Gutierrez, Phaedra Mohammed, and Jesmin Tithi. They come from Bangladesh, Nigeria, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, and the United States.

The ACM-W scholarships will allow them to attend the following conferences: Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems; Spring Simulation Multi-Conference; International Conference on Software Engineering; International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems; International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium; InSITE 2014: Informing Science + IT Education Conferences:Australia; 1st Women in Cyber¬security Conference; 27th International FLAIRS Conference.

The scholarship program accepts applications six times every year on February 15, April 15, June 15, August 15, October 15, and December 15. Students do not need to have a paper accepted to qualify. For more details, visit our website.


  • What is the correlation between having an ACM-W Chapter and having a large percent of women in the Computer Science 1 course (CS1)? We would love to hear from schools with a large correlation: Post a note on our ACM-W Chapters Facebook Group page to tell us about your school. Two schools with ACM-W Chapters have told us that their CS1 classes are approximately 50% women. How about your school? If you do not have an ACM-W Chapter yet, we would love for you to follow easy instructions on the website: /chapter If you do not belong to the ACM-W Chapters Facebook group, join now. It’s a private group, so send a request to gct@depauw.edu.
  • Would you like to contribute an article to the ACM-W Newsletter? With a distribution list reaching thousands of ACM-W members, contributing to the newsletter is a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and information across a wide audience. Submit a proposal for an article /submit.