Mary Lou Maher, professor of software and information systems in the College of Computing and Informatics, has received the 2023 Harrold and Notkin Research and Graduate Mentoring Award from the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
The center, which is a network of change leaders focused on advancing innovation by correcting underrepresentation in computing, bestows this honor upon faculty members who combine outstanding research accomplishments with excellence in graduate mentoring, as well as those who advocate for recruiting, encouraging and promoting women and minorities in computing fields at both a local and national level.
“Professor Maher’s distinguished career combines outstanding research and excellent graduate mentoring, recruiting, encouraging and promoting women and minorities in computing fields. A champion for equity, Dr. Maher has shaped the attitudes of countless UNC Charlotte students,” said Bojan Cukic, dean of the College of Computing and Informatics.
Maher, who also is director of Charlotte’s Center for Education Innovation and Research, joined the University in 2012. She has graduated 23 Ph.D. students and is now supervising seven doctoral students. Fourteen of these students are female, and 12 have joined the faculty at various institutions, including Florida International University, Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, the University of New South Wales, East Tennessee State University and Kennesaw State University.
An internationally distinguished researcher in human-centered design, computing education and artificial intelligence, Maher is among the top 2% of world researchers in the field of AI and visualization with her publications cited more than 12,300 times, according to Google Scholar.
An advocate for diversity and inclusion, Maher recently received two grants from the National Science Foundation to commercialize her research on AI models of curiosity to recommend STEM-related activities for pre-high school girls. She also is the principal investigator for another NSF grant focused on providing professional development workshops for a Title I middle school; teachers are receiving instruction on how to develop and deploy a curriculum infused with computational thinking.
Maher said, “I am honored to receive this award recognizing my research mentoring, and equally important, recognizing the quality, diversity and persistence of our students at Charlotte. I plan to use the funds associated with the award to establish a scholarship for CCI Ph.D. students at Charlotte from underrepresented groups.”
The NCWIT Harrold and Notkin Research and Graduate Mentoring Award is given in memory of Mary Jean Harrold and David Notkin, in honor of their outstanding research, graduate mentoring and diversity contributions.