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Gabriela Marcu Recognized for Outstanding Research Mentorship of Undergraduate Students

May 11, 2018

In recognition of her outstanding dedication to undergraduate student success, College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) Assistant Professor Gabriela Marcu, PhD is a recipient of the 2018 National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award (URM). Marcu will be honored at the 2018 NCWIT Summit (May 15 to 17, 2018 in Grapevine, Texas), the world’s largest annual convening of change leaders focused on significantly improving diversity and inclusion in computing.

The NCWIT URM Award, sponsored by AT&T, recognizes Academic Alliance representatives at non-profit, U.S. institutions (excluding U.S. territories) for their outstanding mentorship, high-quality research opportunities, recruitment of women and minority students, and efforts to encourage and advance undergraduates in computing-related fields. 

Thanks to Marcu’s encouragement, Drexel undergraduate research teams with little prior experience have designed technological interventions to help breast cancer survivors and people living with HIV take advantage of best practices for improved health. She actively facilitates undergraduate women’s participation at national and international conferences through poster presentations. Of her more than 30 mentees, 40 percent have gone on to graduate study in computing fields.

Students often cite the importance of an individual faculty mentor whose support influenced their educational and career path. According to NCWIT, data show that research experiences for undergraduates (REUs) can make a difference in students’ lives and provide a pathway to graduate degrees and research careers. REUs can be particularly important for women – who earn only 18 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in computing – since they provide opportunities for personalized student-faculty interaction, a strong predictor of student retention.

In addition to her support of CCI’s new Women in Computing Initiative, Marcu served on the Drexel team for NCWIT’s Extension Services for Undergraduate Program (ES-UP), which helps academic departments of computing develop high-impact strategies for recruiting and retaining more women students with advice that is customized to local needs and conditions. 

Marcu directs the Empathic Research Group, a diverse and collaborative human-computer interaction research group at CCI. Her research seeks to improve coordination and decision-making in health and social services through technology. She is particularly interested in the contexts of behavioral intervention, mental health and special education, and designs and evaluates new technologies by working closely with community partners. She uses primarily qualitative methods to study and shape the role of technology in social interactions and organizational workflow.

Marcu is a 2013 Siebel Scholar and a 2010 recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She earned a bachelor’s degree (with honors) in informatics from the University of California at Irvine, and a doctorate in human-computer interaction from Carnegie Mellon University.