Rebecca N. Wright will direct the Diana T. and P. Roy Vagelos Computational Science Center and become the Druckenmiller Professor of Computer Science, Barnard President Sian Beilock and Provost Linda Bell announced this morning.
Wright, a Columbia University alumna, was formerly a computer science professor at Rutgers University and served as director of Rutgers’ Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science. She has been at Rutgers since 2007.
“I am extremely excited to build a computer science program at Barnard focused around a center for computational science,” Wright said. “Computing plays an increasingly central role in our lives, in creation and innovation, and in nearly all scientific disciplines. This is a unique opportunity to have a huge impact on Barnard women, and with them, on the world.”
Barnard’s increased emphasis on computer science is in response to rapidly increasing student interest in STEM—more than one-third of Barnard students now graduate in a science field. The development of Barnard’s new computer science program has been years in the making, as administrators have fundraised and laid groundwork for a department that can support CS majors in the student body.
In her role as head of the Vagelos Computational Science Center, Wright also plans to “provide a flexible space with resources for the exploration of artificial intelligence, open data, ethics, and privacy,” according to a press release announcing her appointment.
Wright’s speciality is computer and communications security. “She brings with her a wealth of experience in her research areas of security, privacy, and cryptography, and an amazing record in organizing programs to improve diversity in Computer Science through her director position at [Rutgers],” said Julia Hirschberg, a computer science professor at Columbia and a member of the search committee. “I am very much looking forward to working with her on similar programs at Barnard and Columbia.”
Wright will join Barnard in January, 2019.
Photo via Barnard Communications