NCWIT Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award

The NCWIT Undergraduate Research Mentoring (URM) Award recognizes Academic Alliance representatives at non-profit, U.S. institutions (excluding U.S. territories) for their outstanding mentorship, high-quality research opportunities, recruitment of women and minority students, and efforts to encourage and advance undergraduates in computing-related fields.


Students often cite the importance of an individual faculty mentor whose support influenced their educational and career path. Data show that research experiences for undergraduates (REUs) can make a difference in students’ lives and provide a pathway to graduate degrees and research careers. REUs can be particularly important for women – who earn only 18 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in computing – since they provide opportunities for personalized student-faculty interaction, a strong predictor of student retention.

Congratulations to the 2018 recipients!

Recipients will be honored at the 2018 NCWIT Summit:

  • Dr. J. Jenny Li (Junior Faculty member at a BS or MS granting university): Assistant Professor, School of Computer Science, Kean University. Dr. Li’s undergraduate research mentoring has led to the publication of 20 co-authored papers, and several of her female mentees transferred into a computer science major as a result of working with her. Dr. Li has mentored more than 70 students, of whom 40 percent are women and 60 percent belong to minority groups that are underrepresented in STEM fields.
  • Dr. Gabriela Marcu (Junior Faculty member at a PhD granting university): Assistant Professor of Information Science in the College of Computing and Informatics, Drexel University. With Dr. Marcu’s encouragement, undergraduate research teams with little prior experience have designed technological interventions to help breast cancer survivors and people living with HIV take advantage of best practices for improved health. She actively facilitates undergraduate women’s participation at national and international conferences through poster presentations. Of her more than 30 mentees, 40 percent have gone on to graduate study in computing fields.
  • Dr. Zoë Wood (Senior Faculty member at a BS or MS granting university): Professor of Computer Science & Software Engineering in the College of Engineering, California Polytechnic State University. Dr. Wood’s passion for mentorship leads her not only to support teams of undergraduates in conducting original research, but also to mentor undergraduate computer science students in developing curricula to introduce computing topics to elementary, middle and high school girls in fun and creative ways. She has mentored more than 80 students and advised more than 10 individual women on their senior research projects.
  • Dr. Lori Pollock (Senior Faculty member at a PhD granting university): Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Delaware. Dr. Pollock’s approach to mentoring undergraduate researchers begins with training them in the process and mindset of research, then coaching them toward refining their projects and publishing their results. She has mentored 55 undergraduates, 50 percent of whom are women, and her students have collectively earned more than 35 coauthor credits on software engineering research publications.

More Information About the Award

The Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award accepts nominations for faculty from all non-profit, U.S. Academic Alliance member institutions (a school may become a member after one of its faculty is nominated.)  We are pleased to announce AT&T is again sponsoring this award and the institution where the school resides will receive a $5,000 gift that the winner can use for their research.

View Previous Winners


For further information about any NCWIT Academic Alliance opportunities, please contact the AA program manager, Kimberly Kalahar,at

To join the NCWIT Academic Alliance, simply complete this Academic Alliance Membership Form to be sent further details regarding membership.


People Involved: 

Robert Beck

Co-chair Liaison

Fay Cobb Payton

Project Team Co-leader

Anne Ngu

Project Team Co-leader