Internet2 Announces 2017 Inclusivity Initiative Scholarship Recipients

October 13, 2017

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2017 — Internet2 announced six recipients of the Inclusivity Initiative Scholarship ahead of its annual technical meeting, the Internet2 Technology Exchange, taking place next week in San Francisco from October 15-18. The scholarship recognizes talented individuals seeking opportunities to gain hands-on technical experience, and spotlights women in the field of information technology and their efforts to use technology to serve research and education at their individual institutions.

This year’s winners are:

  • Gabriella Perez, research technology compliance specialist, University of Iowa
  • Forough Ghahramani, associate director, Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute
  • Jessica Shaffer, network support engineer, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Julia Staats, associate core engineer, CENIC
  • Kayla Pierson, designer and user experience specialist, University of Montana
  • Sarvani Chadalapaka, HPC administrator, University of California, Merced

The scholarship covers travel expenses, hotel accommodation, and conference registration for the 2017 Technology Exchange meeting. Funding for this year’s award is made possible by Cirrus IdentityCisco SystemsDuo SecurityInternet2 and Fortinet.

“The main goal of the Inclusivity Initiative Scholarship is to increase the meaningful participation of people who are underrepresented in the information technology field, from both the national and global research and education communities, at conferences and technical meetings,” said Ana Hunsinger, Internet2’s vice president of community engagement. “All the winners were nominated by a senior administrator at their home institution who believes in the importance of supporting inclusivity and mentoring colleagues who are just starting their career or thinking about ways to grow in the profession. Ensuring their attendance at technical conferences gives them the opportunity to engage with the larger community on the shared implementation challenges and best common practices.”

The Technology Exchange convenes over 650 attendees from more than 250 institutions, 17 countries, and 46 states including network engineers, technologists, architects, scientists, operators, and administrators in the fields of advanced networking, trust and identity, information security, applications for research, and web-scale computing.

Perez, Ghahramani, Shaffer, Staats, Pierson, and Chadalapaka will be recognized during the keynote address on Monday, October 16. A full list of the 2017 Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative Scholarship winners, along with their bios, appears below:

Gabriella Perez

Gabriella Perez joined the ITS-Research Services at the University of Iowa as research technology compliance specialist in May 2017. While her position continues to develop and evolve, Gabriella works as a campus liaison – identifying and marketing new IT services, assisting with data management planning, working with the IT Security Office to ensure research data is kept safe, serving on the Institutional Review Board as a technology advocate, and helping researchers find compliant technology solutions. More recently, she’s been focusing her efforts on creating IT requirements for export-controlled data as well as aiding in the implementation of the NIST 800-171 security requirements for several institutional software services. After Gabriella graduated from the University of Iowa, she worked at Epic and Transamerica before returning to the Iowa campus.

Forough Ghahramani

Forough Ghahramani is associate director of Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute (RDI2). Prior to her role in academia, she was a principal of life sciences computing, and worked at Hewlett Packard in senior engineering and management positions. As a leader in higher education, technologist, and entrepreneur, Forough’s diversified career experience includes higher education management, program development, project management, strategic alliances, software engineering, bioinformatics, and organization-wide information technology planning.

Forough has a doctorate in higher education management from University of Pennsylvania, an MBA in marketing from DePaul University, master’s degree in computer science from Villanova University, and bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in biology from Pennsylvania State University. As a female trailblazer in STEM innovation and entrepreneurship, Forough is consulted on the state, national, and international levels in various capacities, including workforce development strategies and entrepreneurship programs for women. Forough is also the chair of Women Impacting Public Policy Education Foundation Board, chair of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Women in Engineering Princeton, chair of Association of University Technology Managers’ Women Inventors Metrics Committee, member of Society of Women Engineers Public Policy, and member of Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation.

Kayla Pierson

Kayla is a designer and user experience specialist with the web team at the University of Montana, assisting with design, development, and support. She is the university’s design lead focused on brand continuity and user experience for web presence and mobile applications. She plays a large role in continuing to grow UM’s content management system and developing a modular framework in which university websites are built. Additionally, Kayla heads up the training and support effort by supervising student employees, and teaching short training courses. She has technical expertise in Velocity, Less, Sass, Adobe Creative Cloud, and InVision, and has some experience developing applications in the university’s ecosystem using Laravel, jQuery and RequireJS along with course work in Python, Java, and R. Kayla holds a bachelor’s degree in media arts and is currently pursuing a master’s in computer science.

Inclusivity Initiative Award in recognition of Carrie Regenstein recipient:

Sarvani Chadalapaka

Sarvani Chadalapaka is the high performance computing administrator with the Office of Information Technology at the University of California, Merced. In her current role since 2016, she enables researchers affiliated with UC Merced to use campus-wide and regional HPC resources, as well as managing the hardware and software of the campus cluster called the MERCED Cluster (NSF Award #1429783). As an XSEDE Campus Champion, she participates in Campus Champion information sharing sessions and acts as a bridge between the local campus and XSEDE resources. Every week, Sarvani facilitates a hands-on HPC clinic where users can get one-on-one help and engage in peer mentoring. Through her efforts, HPC users on campus have increased over 300% and the MERCED cluster has more than doubled its cores, while also expanding the software supported. Sarvani holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas-Arlington and a bachelor’s degree in science from India. She is passionate about women in STEM and participates in numerous campus community activities, such as the Polynesian dance troupe.

Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) recipients:

Jessica Shaffer

Jessica Shaffer began working for the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in 2011 as a co-op student with the Office of Information Technology’s (OIT) network services team. After graduating from Georgia Tech, she accepted a full-time offer from OIT and now serves as a network support engineer supervisor. In addition to configuring, installing, and troubleshooting campus network devices, she manages two full-time engineers and coordinates the Network Services Co-operative Program. Jessica was selected to participate in the Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) program for the SC16 high performance computing conference, and she feels very fortunate for the continued mentorship and support she has received from her home institution, the WINS committee, and the SC16 team to expand her networking experience and encourage gender diversity discussions among IT organizations.

Julia Staats

Julia is an associate core engineer at CENIC who is customer focused, detail oriented, and highly productive. She joined CENIC as a network engineer in operations, working in CENIC’s 24×7 network operations center. Through demonstrating initiative in developing her technical skills, she earned a promotion to the core team. Her day-to-day responsibilities include, but are not limited to, handling circuit deployment, establishing Layer 1/2/3 connectivity for CENIC and Pacific Wave customers and peers, implementing backbone upgrades, and providing technical consultation services to customers. Last year Julia was selected to participate in the 2016 Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) Program, and joined the SCinet DevOps team at SC16 to support the SuperComputing conference. Julia is passionate about technology, innovation and education. She grew up in Beijing and holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA.

Featured diversity and inclusivity sessions at this year’s Technology Exchange include:

A panel will introduce the topic of work-life integration and will address how their organizations have approached the work-life integration challenge. What policies and practices does the organization engage in to create a culture that either encourages or discourages work-life integration? Retention and job satisfaction can be closely tied to the way that an organization creates a work-life integration culture. The panel will describe what has worked in their organizations and what needed to be modified and why so that we can all think about what is possible in our organizations.

A provocative documentary film by Robin Hauser Reynolds that exposes the dearth of American female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap. CODE raises the question: what would society gain from having more women and minorities code? Following the screening, one of the contributors to the film, Avis Yates (NCWIT) will be available for questions and discussion on this important topic.

The 2017 Internet2 Technology Exchange is co-hosted by the Corporation For Education Network Initiatives In California (CENIC)Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), and the University of California, Berkeley. For more information on the event program or to register to attend, visit https://meetings.internet2.edu/2017-technology-exchange.

About Internet2

Internet2 is a non-profit, member-driven advanced technology community founded by the nation’s leading higher education institutions in 1996. Internet2 serves 324 U.S. universities, 59 government agencies, 43 regional and state education networks and through them supports more than 94,000 community anchor institutions, over 900 InCommon participants, and 78 leading corporations working with our community, and 61 national research and education network partners that represent more than 100 countries.


Source: Internet2

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