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Reflections by 50 Years of Women CIS Faculty

Join Ruzena Bajcsy, Susan Davidson, Stephanie Weirich and Linh Phan for a panel discussion on:

Tuesday, March 28, 2023
5:00 to 6:00 PM
Glandt Forum | Singh Center for Nanotechnology | 3205 Walnut Street

Reception to follow for attendees | RSVP Here
This event will be recorded and posted here at a later date

Women have always been part of computing at Penn, from the women who programmed the ENIAC, to the first woman faculty member, Ruzena Bajcsy, who arrived in 1972 as the CIS department was being formed, to new faculty members joining this year. This panel, consisting of women CIS faculty members from different decades over the past fifty years, will discuss what their experiences have been like, addressing the department and research environment, teaching, and climate for women.

Ruzena Bajcsy

Professor Emeritus
Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, University of California, Berkeley;
Computer and Information Science, Penn Engineering

Ruzena Bajcsy obtained the Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Slovak Technical University in 1957 and 1967, and the Ph.D. in computer science in 1972 from Stanford University. She joined the faculty of Penn’s CIS department as it was founded in 1972, and was the first woman to hold an administrative position in SEAS when she became the CIS department chair in 1985.


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While at Penn, Ruzena founded the General Robotics and Active Sensory Perception Laboratory (GRASP), where she introduced the idea of active perception in robotics. In 1998, Ruzena became the first woman to head the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation, where she had authority over a $500 million budget and helped establish the foundation’s Information Technology Research program. In 2001, she retired from Penn and left NSF to become the NEC professor of electrical engineering and computer science and Director Emeritus of CITRIS (the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society) at the University of California, Berkeley. Since 2021 she has been an emeritus professor at UC Berkeley as well as at Penn..

Dr. Bajcsy has received many awards and honors for her groundbreaking accomplishments. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Philosophical Society; a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; recipient of the 2001 ACM/Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Allen Newell Award, the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Medal for Computer and Cognitive Sciences, the 2009 ABIE Award for Technical Leadership from the Anita Borg Institute, the 2013 IEEE Robotics and Automation Award, and 2016 NAE Simon Ramo Founders Award for life achievements.

Ruzena is the mother of computer-science professor Klara Nahrstedt, who received her Ph.D. from Penn CIS in 1995 and who also became a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2022. Ruzena and Klara are the first mother-daughter NAE members.

Susan B. Davidson

Weiss Professor
Computer and Information Science
Penn Engineering

Susan B. Davidson received the B.A. degree in Mathematics from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, in 1978, and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton University, Princeton NJ, in 1980 and 1982. Dr. Davidson is the Weiss Professor of Computer and Information Science (CIS) at the University of Pennsylvania, where she has been since 1982.


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Dr. Davidson was the founding co-director of the Penn Center for Bioinformatics from 1997-2003, the founding co-director of the Greater Philadelphia Bioinformatics Alliance, served as Deputy Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science from 2005-200 and then as Chair of CIS from 2008-2013. She currently serves as the faculty co-Director of the MSE in Data Science program. Her research interests include data management for data science, database and web-based systems, provenance, crowdsourcing, and data citation.

Dr. Davidson is a Fellow of the AAAS, ACM Fellow, Corresponding Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, received the Lenore Rowe Williams Award, and was a Fulbright Scholar. She received the IEEE Technical Committee of Data Engineering Impact Award, the Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women/Provost Award for her work on advancing women in engineering, and served as Chair of the board of the Computing Research Association.

Susan has been married to her husband, Charles Davidson, since 1978. She is the proud mother of sons Jeremy (with wife Sola and 2 year old daughter Sloan) and Christopher (with wife Katie and 2 year old daughter Penny). In her spare time, she loves to exercise, garden, bake and sew.

Stephanie Weirich

ENIAC President’s Distinguished Professor
Computer and Information Science
Penn Engineering

Stephanie Weirich graduated from Rice University in 1996 with a B.A. in Computer Science, and then received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Cornell University in 2002. Since that time, she has been a faculty member at Penn and is currently the ENIAC President’s Distinguished Professor of Computer and Information Science.


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Her research interests include programming language design, type systems, functional programming and verification. She was a co-founder of the Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop (PLMW), the conference chair of ICFP 2020, and the program chair for ESOP 2024, POPL 2019, and ICFP 2010. Dr. Weirich is an editor of the journals ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems, TheoreTICS, and Logical Methods in Computer Science and is a past editor of the Journal of Functional Programming. Her awards include the 2016 ACM SIGPLAN Robin Milner Young Researcher Award, a 2016 Microsoft Outstanding Collaborator award, and the 2016 Most Influential ICFP Paper award (for 2006).

Stephanie is married to Steve Zdancewic, also a professor in CIS at Penn and they have two daughters, Ellie and Sarah. Her hobbies include board games, reading and sewing.

Linh Phan

Associate Professor
Computer and Information Science
Penn Engineering

Linh Thi Xuan Phan received her B. Comp and her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the National University of Singapore in 2003 and in 2009, respectively. She joined the Penn faculty in 2012 and is currently an Associate Professor of Computer and Information Science.



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Her research interests include cyber-physical systems, distributed systems, real-time systems, and security. Phan has served as the Secretary-Treasurer of ACM SIGBED, as well as on the Executive Committee of the IEEE Technical Committee on Real-Time Systems and the Steering Committees for RTSS, RTAS, EMSOFT and RTNS. She is a recipient of Penn’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and an NSF CAREER award. She currently serves as the faculty Co-Director of the DATS Master’s program.