NEW YORK, September 17, 2018 — Barnard College has hired Rebecca N. Wright as the Druckenmiller Professor of Computer Science and the Diana T. and P. Roy Vagelos Computational Science Center Director. Wright comes to the College from Rutgers University, where she has been a professor in the computer science department since 2007 and has served as director of the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS). She will join Barnard in January 2019.
Wright will inaugurate a computer science program at Barnard, in response to rapidly growing interest in the sciences and computer science: more than one-third of Barnard’s women now graduate in a science field. Wright will also lead the Vagelos Computational Science Center (Vagelos CSC), a key feature of The Cheryl and Philip Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning that opened on campus in the fall. The Vagelos CSC will provide a flexible space with resources for the exploration of artificial intelligence, open data, ethics, and privacy, as well as in other disciplines across the curriculum. It will also have a math and computer science help room focused on assisting students with advanced computational needs.
“I am thrilled that Prof. Wright is joining us at such an important moment for the College,” said Barnard president Sian Leah Beilock, whose own research centers on helping girls and women succeed in STEM fields. “Her expertise in cybersecurity and her commitment to the success of diverse students in computer science makes her absolutely the right person to put Barnard at the forefront of developing women leaders in computational fields.”
Provost Linda Bell added, “We look forward to welcoming Prof. Wright to Barnard as a leader who can help shape Barnard’s contributions to the computer science field. Quite unique to Barnard, all our students must take classes that fulfill an academic requirement to learn to think 'technologically and digitally.' We are excited to partner with Prof. Wright to develop a modern center that will allow Barnard students to make an impact in the countless areas in which technical fluency is critical.”
Rebecca Wright’s research centers on computer and communications security. At Rutgers, she has conducted research and taught courses on topics including cybersecurity, accountability in online life, and privacy, and led the development of programs designed to broaden participation in computing. She also serves as a board member of the Computing Research Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W), which aims to increase the success and participation of women in the field.
Wright earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics from Columbia University and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in computer science from Yale University. She is a Distinguished Member of the Association of Computing Machinery, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and the recipient of numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and other prestigious national and international research organizations. She also received Barnard’s Senior Certificate of Distinction in recognition of her leadership in directing the Barnard Bacchantae when she was an undergraduate at Columbia.
“I am extremely excited to build a computer science program at Barnard focused around a center for computational science,” said Wright. “Computing plays an increasingly central role in our lives, in creation and innovation, and in nearly all scientific disciplines. This is a unique opportunity to have a huge impact on Barnard women, and with them, on the world.”
“We were impressed with Prof. Wright's intellectual curiosity and diverse achievements in computer science,” said Dave Bayer, professor of mathematics and chair of the search committee. “She is deeply interested in how computer science intersects with numerous disciplines and we eagerly anticipate collaborating with colleagues and optimizing learning experiences at Barnard.”
“I am delighted to welcome Prof. Wright to Barnard and Columbia,” said Julia Hirschberg, Percy K. and Vida L. W. Hudson Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University and a member of the search committee. “She brings with her a wealth of experience in her research areas of security, privacy, and cryptography, and an amazing record in organizing programs to improve diversity in Computer Science through her director position at DIMACS. I am very much looking forward to working with her on similar programs at Barnard and Columbia.”
About Barnard College
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