Dr. Colleen Lewis is our favorite ally for underrepresented populations in computing. Though she is a white female, we felt it was important to bring her on to the podcast to showcase how she has leveraged her privilege to dismantle racist systems and structures to improve the experiences of others. In other words, she’s BEEN at the cookout, and now she’s on our podcast. Her work is at the intersection of computing and education, where she focuses on issues related to gender and diversity. You can often find Dr. Lewis at conferences presenting a workshop to help educators recognize and respond to bias through research-based scenarios, or as we refer to it: “Microaggressions – The Game.” This episode is filled with gems around effective strategies for feeling included if you don’t fit within the normative depiction of a computer scientist. There’s also a sweet segment about her friend named Irene, who introduced her to the world of computing. Our takeaway from this episode: get yourself an Irene! Or better yet, a Colleen.
Would you say no to the Alvin-Ailey Dance School? Dr. Renata Rawlings-Goss did in the name of science! Though she was enrolled in a competitive performing arts program during high school, a PBS commercial inspired her to pursue an interest in astrophysics. Her undergraduate experiences at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University ultimately catalyzed her desire to pursue graduate school. Though she is a biophysicist by training, Dr. Rawlings-Goss currently serves as the founding Executive Director of the South Big Data Innovation Hub where she helps industry leaders leverage data science to identify solutions at the regional and national level. Learn about how she translated her skills into the discipline of computing through research.
Episode 14 – Pink & Green Robot Queen
Hosts: Dr. Jeremy Waisome & Dr. Kyla McMullen
Guest: De’Aira Bryant
Instagram – @DeeGotRobots
Twitter – @DeeGotRobots
Web – www.deairabryant.com
De’Aira is a graduate student conducting interdisciplinary research focused on helping children through social robotics at Georgia Institute of Technology. Listen in as she discusses what it’s like to be a “high profile graduate student” traveling the world, sharing how we can leverage artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, ethics, and machine learning to improve outcomes for society. Her experiences now are a long way from those she had in her hometown in South Carolina within the “Corridor of Shame.” Her unconventional route into computing is hilarious but shows just how important mentorship and community is for Black women in computing.
De’Aira Bryant is a third-year computer science Ph.D. student in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research areas span the fields of human-robot interaction, artificial intelligence and cognitive science. As a graduate researcher in the Human-Automation Systems (HumAnS) Lab, her studies explore the possibilities for interactive communication between children and social robots. She is especially passionate about the fair and ethical use of AI for social good and the protection of vulnerable populations.
Prior to attending Georgia Tech for her graduate studies, De’Aira graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. She is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the National GEM Consortium Fellowship, the SLOAN Minority PhD Fellowship and the Lillie J. James Computer Science award.
Hailing from the small town of Estill, South Carolina, De’Aira is also an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has demonstrated a long history of service work and is particularly involved in a variety of computer science and robotics outreach programs. De’Aira even recently gave a TEDx talk entitled “Paying it Forward with Social Robots.” In the long term, she dreams of pursuing a career in academia to further inspire and promote computer science education for all students.
Imagine taking a leap of faith to start something new when you secure in your perceived dream tech job. Khalia Braswell took the reins of her career to pursue her dream of creating a organization that serves her community and it is thriving. And now, she fulfilling a new dream of obtaining a doctoral degree. Learn how she navigated the twists and turns she encountered along the way.
Join us as we chat with Isa Watson. She talks about her childhood rooted in curiosity, kindness, and humility, fostered by her parents. Hear about her experience transitioning from the HBCU community to an Ivy League. Though she began as a Chemistry major, Isa skillfully navigated Silicon Valley, and is now the CEO of a Tech Company called “Squad”, which raised nearly $4mm in venture capital funding and has scaled rapidly. She has always been a believer in the importance of community at all stages, and her story will inspire you to do the same.
n this episode, Dr. Kyla McMullen takes a seat on the opposite side of the podcast table to become a guest for the day. Dr. McMullen talks about her journey into computing, although she could not have cared less about school as a student. Today, her work in 3D audio is being used to augment interfaces in virtual and augmented reality, as well as gain insights on spatial audio perception. Tune in as Dr. McMullen tells her own unique super-shero origin story.