ACM Announces New Members of Future of Computing Academy

The ACM Future of Computing Academy (FCA), created in 2016, brings together talented young professionals from a broad range of computing subdisciplines and institutions—academia, research labs, established companies, and startups—who want to perform valuable services for the community while expanding their professional networks and leadership experience. FCA members identify and implement pilot projects that address challenging issues facing our organization and the computing field in general. They work closely with ACM leadership, bringing in new ideas and perspectives and helping to integrate successful pilots—such as “crash courses” in AI and cross-disciplinary podcasts—into ACM’s institutional practices. FCA members are selected biennially through a highly competitive process similar to the nomination process for ACM awards. Learn more about the FCA and its activities following this link.

From Europe, Claudia Mazo, Leila Bahri, and Ella Peltonen were selected to the FCA. Let’s meet them!

Claudia Mazo is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at University College Dublin and Oncomark Ltd. She is affiliated with CeADAR Centre for Applied Data Analytics Research Claudia Mazo has a PhD in Engineering with Emphasis on Computer Sciences at the University of Valle (Cali-Colombia) and a PhD in Engineering on Production and Computing at the University of León (León-Spain). Claudia is an experienced researcher, contributing to several research projects including image processing for diagnosing breast cancer, predicting the risk of recurrence of early-stage breast cancer patients using genomic information, developing a dataset of histology and pathology images, clinical decision support systems, prediction of a secondary structure on proteins, distributed systems for image annotation and recovery, among others.

We asked Claudia how she would like to contribute to the ACM Future of Computing Academy, and this is what she told us:

“It is clear that working with multidisciplinary teams, understanding the immediate and long-term effects of our research and joining efforts and knowledge to produce an improved medical solution is the way to go. In this way, we could achieve improvements in many areas such as diagnostics, treatment decisions, which consequently, impacts patients’ lives; we can address new problems, and create new products. I believe that my interdisciplinary formation will help us understand and tackle these issues and, as a member of the ACM Future of Computing Academy, I will be able to get in touch with other researchers in the field and establish and strengthen collaboration networks that will translate into better solutions for improving our lives.”

Ella Peltonen (@Ella_Peltonen) is a research scientist with the Center for Ubiquitous Computing, University of Oulu, Finland, where she focuses on the future of learning-driven networking systems and especially real-time sensing systems. She gained her PhD at the University of Helsinki in the area of crowdsensing and distributed machine learning. She worked as a post-doc at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, University College Cork, Ireland, where she specialized in real-time recommendation systems. In addition, she has undertaken several research visits including to University of California, Berkeley, US, University of Cambridge, UK, University College London, UK, and University of Melbourne, Australia. Her current research focuses on pervasive everyday sensing, edge-native machine learning, and “from data to actions” including ubiquitous recommendation systems and data analytics.

In the ACM Future of Computing Academy, she wants to improve the discussion between different fields of computer science. “The aspect I’m interested in improving e and actively promoting is interdisciplinary ICT research. Being an early-career researcher, I’ve already seen communication barriers, especially between those working on theoretical algorithms and those trying to implement them in practice – let alone social sciences, and other application areas of the ICT research. I see myself as a half theorist, half HCI person, and I’ve always seen my positioning as fluent between different ICT fields.”

Leila Bahri is a senior researcher with research interests on privacy-preserving data analytics, decentralized computing, trust in social networks and Blockchain. Leila received her PhD in Computer Science from Insubria University in Italy and did a postdoc at the distributed computing group, part of the Software and Computer Science Department at the Royal Institute of Technology-KTH in Sweden. She also worked as a research fellow in the security and crypto group at Koc University in Istanbul. Currently, she serves as Privacy Specialist at Group Data Protection in Scania company’s headquarters in Sweden.

Leila wrote to us: “Some studies suggest that one of the key reasons why women are under-represented at high positions, and the reasons behind the pay gap between men and women may be women themselves. Women tend to evaluate themselves too critically before applying for a job or requesting a promotion or higher pay. I can relate to this behaviour and observe it in my local network of professional women friends and colleagues. I imagine other fellow women would easily relate to it as well. It is all too common to think, ‘I only know how to do this 80%; I will leave the room to the people that know 100% and so, I won’t apply’, or ‘I have not achieved enough and I don’t dare to ask for a raise, although my peers are doing so’, or again ‘I meet all the criteria in the job announcement but there is this tool that I have never used before. I do not think I am good enough for this position’. I have been training myself to fight such thoughts, and jump at the opportunity even if my inner demon says you are not good enough. This is mostly how I ended up applying for the ACM FCA.

As a researcher focused on collaborative computing and privacy-preservation in social media, I have always wanted to be part of a privacy and ethical AI awareness activity with societal and far-reaching impact, especially on under-represented groups and across disciplines. ACM FCA sounded like the right place and, I was lucky to learn about it exactly during the period when the second recruitment cycle opened. Preparing the application turned out to be more fun and more instructive than I expected. It made me reflect on what I have (or have not) done for my community, what I would like to do if given the chance and the resources, and how I see myself as a contributor in shaping the future of computing, even at a microscopic scale.

Today, I am very proud to be a member of ACM FCA, a network of young volunteers from both academia and industry who are interested in doing something for the whole computing profession and for the present and future of computing. It has been a pleasure to meet most of the members in the annual meeting this past December in New York City. We are all full of energy with a diverse set of ideas on how we would like to contribute in advancing the computing profession in a way that is aligned with common ethics, respects all individuals, and serves societal development.“

We are wishing best of luck to these young researchers in their career journeys.

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