Archive of articles published in the 2007 issue.

SDSC: Harnessing Data for Science and Society

Stroll the halls of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), and a world of discovery—from the inner space of the mind to the outer space of the universe—is brought into focus. Images of neurotransmitters activating synapses, proteins docking into molecular targets, and animations of the birth of the solar system line the center’s corridors. What were once streams of mathematical theorems, equations and solutions are transformed into visual scenes, where the surreal approaches reality.

Gender Differences: Recognizing and Developing Potential in Female Students

Last year, a colleague in my department approached me with the following quandary: Why did his female student have difficulty working independently on her senior project, despite her demonstrated ability in his class? When we delved further, we discovered it was merely fear of failure and the need for reassurance, not a lack of ability, that caused her to give this impression. This led me to two questions—had she not been in his class, how would he have recognized her potential? How can he develop in her the confidence and independence necessary to succeed at competitive levels in academia?

Why We Go to the Woods

In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, why do we get up each day and work? To pay for groceries and make mortgage payments? Practical and necessary reasons, for sure. To conduct important research, educate students and make disciplinary contributions? These are the quantitative and qualitative metrics of success in our field, without doubt. Yet I suspect neither practicality nor disciplinary metrics are the real reasons we climb out of bed each morning. Rather, I believe that when we are circumspect, we know we are each driven by the desire to make a difference, to make the world a better place today than it was yesterday.

Continued Drop in CS Bachelor’s Degree Production and Enrollments

This article reports on CS bachelor’s degree enrollments and production among Ph.D.-granting departments in the United States since the late 1990s. In order to limit the effect of variations in response rates, data are reported in both total numbers and medians per department. Results from the Taulbee Survey should be compared with data produced by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which surveys all institutions that grant CS degrees. NSF’s most recent data are from academic year 2003/2004.

Congress Change Could Mean Slight Changes in Science Policy

With the change in Congressional leadership resulting from the Democrats’ strong showing in November’s mid-term elections, the landscape for research funding issues in Congress is expected to change in a number of ways, with outcomes that are, at this point, difficult to predict. For the research advocacy community, these changes will include new personalities heading every key Congressional committee and new legislative priorities for the Congressional leadership that could imperil recent gains in research funding commitments.

Avaya Labs Research – Thriving In Pasteur’s Quadrant

“The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” [Linus Pauling] Avaya Labs Research (Research) was created in 2000 when Avaya spun off from Lucent, inheriting and now extending the 75-year tradition of Bell Labs Research. We are responsible for advancing high-potential technologies, understanding customer trends and needs, and establishing alliances with both academia and industry to introduce innovative technologies and competitive solutions. We partner closely with Avaya business units to generate and trial ideas that form the basis for next-generation, enterprise-based telecommunications.

CRA-W Cohort of Associate Professors

National discussions on global competitiveness often overlook the role that diversity must play: we cannot expect our nation’s IT workforce to meet its goals if we fail to fully engage most of our population in that effort. By failing to attract women, minorities, and persons with disabilities to IT, we are ceding our global position in innovation. Women make up the largest of these groups, and they are underrepresented in the workforce as a whole and at the highest ranks in particular. Women hold just 27 percent of professional computing-related positions and only 15 percent of board and executive officer positions in the top IT-related companies.

Inventing the Future

In the context of this quote, and as I leave NSF, I invite you to review with me how well CISE is positioned to invent the future. In the space available I cannot review the entire computing innovation ecology (NSF is funding an Academy study on exactly this question; see: I can, however, review the situation at NSF, which continues to be the funding mainstay of basic computer science and engineering research.

Random Ramblings

The November mid-term election changed the political landscape in Washington, with both the House and Senate shifting from Republican to Democratic control. As I write this column, many TV pundits are busily debating the broad implications of this change. More cogently, CRA’s Peter Harsha is writing about the policy ramifications in both the CRA government affairs blog ( and elsewhere in this issue of CRN. Meanwhile, CRA is not waiting for the policy waters to clear, but is continuing an active role in the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation, advocating increased funding for the physical sciences, of which computing is a central component.