Gender Diversity in STEM

Zuniga (MS ’17) talks with Cho about how a new high-speed video card will help her massively parallel processing projects.

Melisa Carranza Zuniga, who is completing her master’s thesis on high-performance computing focusing on molecular simulation, said she has watched girls begin computer science degrees and then switch majors time and again.

“Having a mentor there to tell you that you can do it would be really helpful,” she said.
Why has she persisted? She thinks a lot of credit goes to professors who took the time to support and encourage her. Her research mentor, Sam Cho, urged her to apply for a scholarship to the prestigious Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s largest technical conference for computing geared toward women. She won the scholarship and attended the conference in October, earning a chance to interview with Google while there. She will begin the company’s elite engineering residency program post-graduation, in mid-July.

Involving more women and under-represented minorities in STEM fields is vital, said Cho, an associate professor of physics and computer science.

“Everybody uses computers, smart phones, smart homes and smart cars,” he said. “So all groups should be a part of innovating and improving this technology. Unless more get involved in the product development process, there are going to be a lot of missed opportunities.”

[ Full article from WFU News]