Katie Siek, an associate professor at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, has been honored with the Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT).
Siek, who also serves as the director of informatics undergraduate studies and is the program director for Proactive Health Informatics, has led various efforts to promote research experiences for undergraduates (REUs), and she is being honored for her outstanding mentorship, high-quality research opportunities, recruitment of women and minority students, and efforts to encourage and advance undergraduates in computing-related fields.
“I love seeing students learn about themselves to figure out where they want to go in the world,” Siek said. “Some students are not sure where they want to go and when, but through the development of a mentoring relationship with faculty and graduate students, they identify a career path that is right for them. I love watching students grow. I’m also thankful for how fortunate I am to have great colleagues. This recognition wouldn’t be possible without a lot of my colleagues taking a risk and working with me to introduce undergraduates to research.”
Siek is the principal investigator for the Proactive Health Informatics Research Experience for Undergraduates site. She relies on four or five faculty volunteers, plus five graduate students and some staff to provide opportunities for undergraduates to learn the research process. The relationships formed during the REUs extend far beyond the end of the program.
“Research experiences are more than learning about research or a skill in one area,” Siek said. “They are about providing students the ability to think deeply about how things work, themselves, and their future. I love watching students grow through a research experience and share their passion for research.”
Suzanne Menzel, a senior lecturer of computer science, nominated Siek for the honor.
“Katie is committed to giving her mentees a rich and authentic research experience,” Menzel said. “She has high expectations of her students, but she sets attainable goals and provides the scaffolding and clear guidance needed to allow students to reach their full potential. Katie is passionate about making sure that the scientific contributions of women and minorities are acknowledged and built upon, and whatever she does, Katie is all-in.”
Siek will be honored at the 2019 NCWIT Summit, which will be held May 14-16 in Nashville, Tennessee. As part of the award, SICE will also receive a $5,000 gift, which Siek will use to fund opportunities for undergraduates to present their work at international conferences. Siek’s primary research interests focus on human-computer interaction and how sociotechnical interventions affect personal health and well-being.
“We’re extremely proud of Katie’s work with the REUs and the impact she has had on so many students as they explore the research process,” said Raj Acharya, dean of SICE. “Our student research opportunities, especially those that focus on women and underrepresented groups, open so many possibilities, and Katie’s hard work is certainly deserving of this recognition.”