Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering’s Michaela Krawczyk and Elizabeth Dietrich have received prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowships.
The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program supports early-career graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It ensures the quality, vitality, and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. The program seeks to broaden participation in science and engineering of underrepresented groups, including women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and veterans. The five-year fellowship provides three years of financial support inclusive of an annual $37,000 stipend.
Krawczyk and Dietrich also will have access to Fellowship international research collaborations and career development internships.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens who haven’t completed more than 12 months of a graduate degree program. Requirements include an original research proposal, academic transcripts, three reference letters and information regarding goals, background and personal experience.
The Fellowship is part of the National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency that supports science and engineering.
Krawczyk will begin her Ph.D. informatics program in the fall. Dietrich earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2021.
Dietrich’s research focuses on ensuring new advances in autonomous systems, including aircraft and cars, are safe. Krawczyk’s research explores how people share abortion stories in digital spaces, how those spaces can better support storytellers, and how to make the stories better at reducing abortion stigma.
Katie Siek, professor and Informatics chair, said the fellowship is very prestigious, with only 2,000 awarded each year. It can improve job prospects or lead to research opportunities at renowned labs.
“These awards show the importance and impact of the undergraduate research experiences that IU and Luddy provide to undergraduate students,” Siek said. “Not only do Michaela and Elizabeth get to collaborate on research with important societal impact, they learn skills to effectively create research plans, communicate those plans to experts in the field, and get funding to continue on their own research agendas.”
For Dietrich, computer software connected to the physical operating systems of autonomous vehicles must be safe, reliable and predictable.
“My interests lie at the intersection of cyber-physical systems, formal methods, and programming languages,” she said. “I want to build on these fields to design and develop verification tools, theory, and controls to guarantee the safety of these cyber-physical systems.”
Dietrich hopes to become a university professor. She wants to focus on mentoring students as well as research that has high-impact applications to better society.
Krawczyk said the fellowship validates her work and provides important financial support that will allow her to prioritize her research ideas.
“It’s not just someone agreeing that my research ideas are cool, or that abortion storytelling and stigma are important topics,” she said, “it’s that they are cool and important enough to support three-plus years of additional research.
“It’s a loud and explicit vote of confidence in my ability to conduct this research successfully, and my future career as a researcher.”
Krawczyk’s research project was accepted to late April’s Supporting Social Movements in HCI & Design workshop hosted at the premier conference in human-computer interaction, CHI, in Hamburg, Germany.
Krawczyk credited her fellowship to Siek’s mentorship, data analysis contributions from master’s student Sreelaxmi Chakkadath and undergrad Evan Jackson, and support from Jen Terrell, senior lecturer/informatics undergraduate director, Georgia Tech professor Cassidy Sugimoto, and the Cox Research Scholars program.
“Having access to Dr. Siek’s feedback and insights made all of these grad-school-related application processes infinitely easier,” Krawczyk said. “She helped put my thoughts and aspirations into words.”
Krawczyk hopes to continue working on abortion storytelling in digital spaces. The ultimate goal is to reduce abortion stigma.