IBM recently announced the creation of a new Ph.D. Fellowship Award to honor Fran Allen, a pioneer in computer science, and the first female to receive the coveted Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Turing Award. The Turing Award (named after Alan M. Turing, the British mathematician considered to be the father of modern computer science) is the ACM's most prestigious technical award and is accompanied by a prize of $250,000. It is given annually to an individual selected for long-lasting and far-reaching contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. Fran Allen received the honor in 2006 for contributions that fundamentally improved the performance of computer programs in solving problems, and accelerated the use of high-performance computing for solving problems such as weather forecasting, DNA matching, and national security functions. She is also the first female to earn IBM's highest technical honor -- IBM Fellow -- and has made mentoring students and colleagues in science and engineering a priority throughout her career.
"Fran is a tremendous inspiration to all scientists, engineers and mathematicians around the world," said Nick Donofrio, Executive Vice President of Innovation and Technology at IBM. "Her dedication to developing the next generation of technology leaders, and in particular to serving as a role model for female students, sets a new standard for mentors. We can all learn from her experience and her actions." The first recipient of the Fran Allen Ph.D. Fellowship Award is Shawna Thomas, a student in Computer Science from Texas A&M University, who is studying robotic motion planning algorithms and their application to biology problems such as protein and RNA folding.
The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award program is an intensely competitive program that honors exceptional Ph.D. students in many academic disciplines and areas of study. The award was announced at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2007 on Thursday evening, October 18, in Orlando, Florida. The conference was chosen as the venue for the announcement because of their commitment to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. More than 1,400 technical women and men from 22 countries attended the event.
The award will be presented annually to a female Ph.D. student in conjunction with the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award program and the student's university will receive an award to encourage female participation in computer science and engineering. The student will also receive a trip to the annual Grace Hopper Conference where she will be recognized.
Each year, the student will be assigned a career mentor from IBM -- and for the inaugural year, it will be Fran Allen herself. The career mentor will also visit, and speak at, the student's campus. The student will be invited to present their research at an IBM Research site, and to interact with researchers in their discipline.