Alumni in Action

Katie A. Siek

Assistant Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder

Katie A. Siek
Class of 2000
Major: Computer Science
Minors: Mathematics and German
Advanced Degree: Ph.D. Indiana University; M.S. Indiana University
What does your job entail and how has your Eckerd experience impacted your career?

I am a professor at a research I institution which means that I get to teach undergraduates and graduate students; conduct cutting edge research; and help the greater community with our research results. I work in health informatics - an interdisciplinary field where I have to be knowledgeable about informatics and health. Thanks to my liberal arts education at Eckerd, I am comfortable reading any literature necessary - from computing to medical to psychological research papers. I also learned at Eckerd how to work with interdisciplinary teams through the various liberal arts courses, thus priming me for my current career.

What makes Eckerd so special or why does it stand out to you as a great college? What does it mean to you now that you have been away for awhile?

Eckerd is special because I was able to talk one-on-one with many professors during my time there. We talked about everything from class to career and future plans. I felt as comfortable going to get assistance from a professor in rhetoric on a graduate application essay to going to a professor in my major for assistance. I hope that I can be as available to students at my own institution.

Describe some of the people who had a profound impact on your Eckerd experience.

Dr. Kelly Debure was a fantastic professor who gave me a glimpse into what life would be like on the tenure track. She was always in her office when I was there working - weekends, evenings, you-name-it. I loved how she was able to balance her life with the tenure process as an example for her students. She also encouraged me to consider an undergraduate research experience.

Dr. David Kerr would run with me in the early morning and discuss mathematics and ideas for my future. He had a terrific way of engaging with students during class by including pop-culture challenges. He was the first one who told me he thought I could be a professor.

What activities were you involved in while at Eckerd and did they influence what you are involved in now?

I played basketball on the women's team and was involved with the student ACM club and climbing club. Although I do not play basketball anymore, it provided me with the mental toughness to get things done despite being tired - a handy skill on the tenure track. I am still involved with the ACM and climb whenever I get a chance.

What else should we know about you or what else would you like to share with us?

I received a National Science Foundation CAREER award, a CRA-W Borg Early Career Award, and a Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance Distinguished Visiting Fellowship.

The National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Borg Early Career Award
This award is given annually by CRA-W to a woman in computing at an early stage in her career who has made significant research contributions while also having a positive and significant impact on advancing women in the computing research community.

Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance Distinguished Visiting Fellowship
SICSA offers support to eminent researchers who would like to come and work in Scotland for periods of one week to three months.

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