Monique Ross to help lead national undergrad research to PhD mentoring program

Posted: March 6, 2023
Associate Professor Monique Ross
Associate Professor Monique Ross

Ohio State University Associate Professor Monique Ross has been chosen by the Computing Research Association (CRA) to help develop a new program aimed at increasing both the number and diversity of PhDs graduating in computing science.

The CRA recently announced a $5 million grant from a philanthropic partner to support the Undergraduate Research to PhD (UR2PhD) program. UR2PhD will focus on engaging more women who are U.S. citizens and permanent residents in computing doctoral programs through a virtual, nationally managed approach to high-quality undergraduate research opportunities and bridging the gap to PhD applications.

The United States’ role as a tech leader depends on both the number and diversity of PhDs graduating in computing. Researchers with computing PhDs—particularly those in the artificial intelligence and machine learning fields—help shape technology and society as a whole. According to CRA Taulbee survey data from 2021, only 23.3% of computer science PhDs who graduated in the 2020-21 academic year identified as women, and 68.7% of those women were nonresidents.

Ross is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Education whose work is focused on understanding the experiences and pathways of Latiné and Black women in computing. She brings to the UR2PhD project her expertise in research experiences for undergraduates, inclusive pedagogy and intersectional considerations. She also contributes to Northeastern University’s Center for Inclusive Computing efforts to broaden participation in computing and has garnered and managed more than $2 million in grant funding.

“The focus of this project is not to simply attract women, but to attract diverse women,” said Ross. “As such, my work with Latiné and Black women becomes important in developing a thoughtful recruitment strategy and training for research mentors. I also have extensive experience in hosting undergraduate researchers and can act as an expert in developing training for mentors as well as content for the student researchers.”

UR2PhD aims to increase the percentage of women entering PhD programs by at least 15% per year, with even higher increases for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Ross said she is most excited about the intentionality in bridging the gap between a first research experience and the pursuit of a PhD among women and non-binary students.

“The process of pursuing graduate degrees can be a mystery to most and we are being deliberate and intentional in demystifying this opportunity,” she explained. “The participants in this program will get community, education, mentorship and a space to see themselves as future PhDs in computing.”

“All of the scholars involved in this program are amazing women computer science PhDs,” she added. “They value broadening participation in computing and have curated an experience that could have a big impact on the future of computer science faculty and industry innovators.”

Other UR2PhD program leads include:

  • Christine Alvarado, University of California, San Diego
  • Lori Pollock, University of Delaware
  • Kelly Shaw, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts

CRA represents more than 250 North American organizations active in computing research: academic departments of computer science and computer engineering; laboratories and centers in industry, government, and academia; and affiliated professional societies.

by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications |