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Making a difference through faculty mentorship
Professor Lenore Cowen reflects on her experience mentoring students through the NSF CSGrad4US program.
Last year, Professor Lenore Cowen of the Department of Computer Science served as a faculty mentor for the National Science Foundation (NSF) CSGrad4US Fellowship in the inaugural year of the program. Cowen mentored four students from four different universities from September 2021 through March 2022, and looks forward to continuing as a faculty mentor for the coming academic year. Two alumni with Tufts degrees in computer science from the classes of 2018 and 2019 plan to participate as alumni fellows with the program next year.
According to Margaret Martonosi, assistant director of the NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Graduate Fellowships (CSGrad4US) program, the aim of the program is to “grow the number and diversity of U.S. citizen and permanent resident graduate students pursuing research careers in all areas of computer science, computer engineering, or information science.” Those accepted to the program receive the benefits of financial support and a year-long preparation program, including a dedicated mentor like Tufts’ Cowen.
Only “a small fraction of domestic undergraduate students in CISE disciplines attend graduate school directly after an undergraduate degree due to the outstanding job opportunities in industry and at other organizations,” says Martonosi. “There are, however, many talented people in non-academic positions who are interested in returning to academia to pursue research-based doctoral degrees. CSGrad4US gives them that opportunity!”
It was “fun and rewarding, meeting these talented students and helping them figure out how to refine their interests and navigate the graduate application process,” reflects Cowen, after spending the 2021-2022 academic year working with her four mentees. “You realize how much you know and how much you can help connect students to the next stage of their academic journey.”