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CS Department Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter

The Middlebury Computer Science Department affirms that BLACK LIVES MATTER. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks are only the most recent in a history of violence against Black people.  We acknowledge that Black individuals continue to be oppressed by systemic racism that is embedded in all aspects of our society including in the field and industry of Computer Science. We acknowledge that Computer Science is often created by white people to benefit white people. We believe that remaining silent in word and action only furthers this systemic racism.

We therefore pledge to use our roles as educators to build an environment at Middlebury College that is inclusive and supportive of the Black community.

Specifically, we pledge the following concrete actions with four main themes of Education, Scholarship, Advocacy, and Assessment.

  1. Education

    • Participate in regular anti-racism training and devote time during departmental meetings to discuss mechanisms to incorporate what we learn in our teaching and mentorship.
    • Provide anti-racism training for our student tutors.
    • Update the learning goals of the computer science major to include an understanding of issues of inclusivity, equity, bias, and willful ignorance in computing, including examining (and removing) racist terminology, discussing implicit and explicit bias in algorithms and models, and questioning the lack of Black people in commonly used datasets.
    • Offer a new course that interrogates the role of race in computing, and issues of ethics and identity in computing more broadly.
    • Advertise socio-technology courses offered by other departments to all of our students. These courses provide context for the broad roles technology and technologists play in society.
  2. Scholarship

  3. Advocacy

    • Actively oppose institutional efforts to invite speakers who are identified as white nationalists by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
    • Actively encourage and advocate for our Black students to assume leadership roles in the department, such as grading and tutoring positions and participation in the Student Advisory Council. Advocate that our Black students attend conferences such as Tapia and Grace Hopper.
    • Reach out to Black student groups to advertise our major to undeclared students by discussing their educational and long-term goals, and how computer science may fit into those goals.
  4. Assessment

    • Create an anonymous form for students to give us feedback at any time on our departmental culture and community.
    • Create surveys and track demographic information for our students to understand how we can better support and retain Black students in the discipline.
    • Every summer, we will measure and re-evaluate our efforts, and publish updated goals on the department website.

We feel that in this moment it is important to center our commitment to our Black students and community. However, we acknowledge that all oppression is interconnected and we plan to create a broader department initiative to address systemic issues affecting groups who have been historically excluded from the field of Computer Science.


Summer 2021

Welcome to our new colleagues Maja Cannavo and Rebecca Warholic

Maja and Rebecca are the new ASIs (Assistants in Instruction) in our department.

Maja Cannavo '21

I graduated from Middlebury this past May with a major in geography and a minor in computer science. I found the CS department my junior spring, when I took CS 150 and fell in love with the subject. I’m very excited to be back in the Midd CS department this year spending more time teaching and learning. I also can’t wait for another year in the Vermont outdoors, where you can find me running, hiking, and snowboarding. In the rest of my spare time I enjoy cooking, baking, reading, playing the piano, and board games. Having majored in geography, I also love maps and am always looking for new ways to combine my interests in geography and computer science.

Rebecca Warholic

I graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Smith College in 2020 and am excited to work with another small liberal arts college. Though I grew up in Pennsylvania, New England has been a second home to me for years and I’m looking forward to returning! I have a love for education that I hope to bring to Middlebury’s Computer Science Department and its students as an ASI.

Beyond computer science, I have a love of languages, literature, and theater. My second major at Smith was in Italian Studies (the benefit of a liberal arts education) and this combination led me to research in Computational Linguistics, which I hope to pursue in grad school in the near future. All in all, I’m looking forward to being a support within the department throughout this next year, so don’t hesitate to drop by my office.

Summer 2020

Welcome to our new colleague John Foley

Over the past three years, I have been developing an automated method to extract poetry from digitally scanned books. After running this on a collection of 2 million out-of-copyright books, I can safely say that I have the largest digital collection of poetry in the world. Moving forward, I’m excited to study how to organize, index, search and study this data. I received my PhD in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2019, finishing up while teaching at Smith College. I am thrilled to be joining Middlebury College, which will be a great place for my interest in the digital humanities and to teach computer science.

Outside of work, I’m excited to be moving to Vermont with my partner where we can continue our interests in hiking, mountain-biking and rock-climbing. When indoors, I can be found playing the saxophone, reading and learning to bake.

Summer 2019

Welcome to our new colleagues Catherine Miller and Robert Lichenstein

Catherine and Robert are the new ASIs (Assistants in Instruction) in our department.

Catherine Miller

I studied aerospace engineering and physics for my undergraduate degrees at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. For my graduate work at MIT, I did experimental research on the fundamental physics of ion electrospray thrusters, which is a new type of space propulsion technology. I am a life-long learner and I love to teach, which is why I am so excited to join the Middlebury Computer Science Department as an ASI. Working closely with students brings joy to my days and I am very much looking forward to working with many of you this fall! I also have a passion for wellness, particularly in improving mental well-being using techniques such as meditation and yoga. I hope to be a resource for reducing stress during the busy semesters! I also enjoy hiking, snowboarding, trying new vegan recipes, reading, and wildlife photography.

Robert Lichenstein '19

I just finished my degree in Computer Science here at Middlebury and am excited to come back for more! I am an Alabama native but after acclimating to the weather here I find it too beautiful to leave. I am looking forward to helping the department flourish in its new building and being able to give back to my peers over the coming year.
In my tenure at Middlebury I dedicated a lot of time to the college radio station WRMC 91.1FM, so if I’m not in my office, tune in and perhaps you can find me. I also enjoy cooking vegan food, playing games, and spending my time in the VT outdoors.

Spring 2019

Welcome to our new colleague Philip Caplan

After receiving my bachelor’s degree from McGill University, I did my graduate work in aerospace engineering at MIT where I studied techniques for four-dimensional mesh generation to get accurate answers to unsteady three-dimensional problems. This has applications in the design of aircraft that are subjected to time-dependent flow features. I draw a lot of my inspiration for meshing from computer graphics where meshes are also used in animation, rendering and geometry representations.

I’m excited to join Middlebury to teach and continue researching these meshing techniques but also to explore some of my other passions, ranging from sports (hockey, tennis, weightlifting, skiing) to baking bread and drumming. I’m also really excited to be closer to my family in Montréal!

Middlebury joint
CS-music major
Fiona Sullivan '19
wins Watson

Midd @ WECode

14 female Middlebury CS students attended WECode 2019 at Harvard University on Feb 22-24, 2019!

Summer 2018

Welcome to our new colleague Andrea Vaccari

Andrea Vaccari

Before falling in love with image processing while at the Virginia Image and Video Analysis (VIVA) laboratory at the University of Virginia first as PhD student and then as research scientist, I spent 14 years at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) working on many different aspects of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). I started there in 1998 after having obtained my MS in Physics from the Università degli Studi di Milano in 1996.
Now my research focuses on model-based analysis of images, stack of images, videos and spatiotemporal point cloud datasets. My goal is to provide detection, tracking, and analysis of “objects” or “events” within these large datasets, extract and analyze their most important features, and achieve a better understanding of their behavior. I especially love to play with biomedical and biological as well as remote sensing imagery, although I find intriguing any problem that deals with images or videos.
If I am not staring at some images on my screen, you can probably find me chilling while listening to electronic music, cooking delicious Italian food, or exploring escape rooms… Now that I’m in Vermont, I’m looking forward to hitting the slopes again!

Spring 2018

CS majors Leo McElroy and Tina Chen win Watson Fellowships

Midd @ WECode

Middlebury CS students at WECode 2018

24 female Middlebury CS students attended WECode 2018 at Harvard University on March 2-4, 2018!

Fall 2017

CS major MJ Pascual '19 wins Google 'Women Techmakers' fellowship

CS major Dylan Quenneville '18 presents paper at ICIP conference in China 

STEAM Girls outreach project by CS major Joy Wood '17 in the news

Summer 2017

Welcome to our new colleagues

Welcome to our new colleagues Jason Grant and Shelby Kimmel!

Jason Grant

Large crowds, especially at sporting events and mega-concerts, pose huge risks to event organizers and safety personnel. My research focuses on detection of dangerous and abnormal crowd behavior using computer vision techniques. I also have conducted research in the area of face recognition, including the study of identical twins and hierarchical structure of facial features (gender, ethnicity, and race).
Previously to joining Middlebury, I conducted my graduate work in the Computer Vision Research Lab at the University of Notre Dame and earned my Bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Outside of work, I enjoy both indoor and outdoor recreation, such as running, biking, playing basketball, and weightlifting. I like to cook some, but I enjoy eating more! When I am not doing any of the other aforementioned things, I am likely at the piano, working on something gospel, classical, jazz, or pop.

Shelby Kimmel

I study quantum computers, which take advantage of the laws governing small physical systems in order to solve computational problems. I design algorithms for quantum computers and try to prove that their performance is better than comparable algorithms on standard computers. I also create efficient and accurate ways of characterizing errors in experimental quantum computers.
I did my thesis work at MIT, postdoctoral research at the University of Maryland, and my undergrad studies at Williams College. I also like to cook (especially Korean food - I make a mean kimchi), play the accordion, and do things outdoors, like hiking, biking, and x-country skiing.

Spring 2017

Middlebury CS students win prizes

Our programming contest team (Nick Mosier '20, Crystal Paudyal '19, and Dylan Quenneville '18) won 3rd place among 32 teams who participated in the CCSCNE programming contest on April 7, 2017.  At the same conference, Dylan also won 2nd place in the undergraduate poster competition.