September 27, 2023

Researcher Wins Largest NSF Grant In Florida State University History To Advance Black Women In Computing

A Florida State University researcher has been awarded the largest National Science Foundation (NSF) career grant in the university’s history. 

The award is one of the NSF’s most prestigious, designed to support early-career faculty who showcase outstanding scholarship through their research and contributions to education.

Dr Yolanda Rankin

Yolanda Rankin, an associate professor in the School of Information, was awarded a five-year $1.5 million grant to support her research on Black women’s careers in computing.

Her approach prioritizes understanding and valuing the perspectives of Black women. Her work delves into essential questions about technology design and access, asking who gets to design technology and who has access to it.

By understanding Black women’s ‘ways of knowing’, her research aims to support the representation and retention of Black women in computing fields.

“Receiving this NSF CAREER grant is an honor and I take this very seriously,” Rankin said in a statement

“This is not just about the next five years; for me, this is my life’s work. I’ve always been about the business of mentoring and supporting Black women and all women in the field of computing.”

From the industry to the classroom 

Prior to joining FSU’s School of Information as an assistant professor in 2017, Rankin accumulated over a decade of industry experience. 

During her tenure at IBM Research Lab – Almaden, Rankin developed software tools that enabled geographically dispersed employees to work together to provide customers with quality IT services. 

She also worked as a senior program manager at Luxcore Networks, developing optical subsystems, and at Lucent Technologies Bell Labs as a software engineer developing and deploying wireless applications and features.

In her academic roles, she explored the use of video games to promote learning, engaging underserved populations, and developing effective learning environments to promote Computer Science education for K-18 student populations. 

The NSF funding not only supports Rankin’s research but also offers valuable opportunities for her students. 

Rankin said this grant will allow students to have the opportunity to attend conferences such as blackcomputeHER, where they can learn from and connect with Black women leaders in the field.

Featured image source: Florida State University News

Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)