Francine Berman, the Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor in Computer Science, is on a mission to change the national conversation on data preservation and on women and technology—and she just might succeed.
In Berman, Rensselaer has one of the most respected, sought-after leaders in digital data preservation, data cyberinfrastructure, and high-performance computing, as well as a national advocate for women in technology.
“Professor Fran Berman is recognized around the globe for her pioneering work in supercomputing and data preservation and for encouraging women to pursue careers in STEM-related disciplines,” Provost Prabhat Hajela said. “Her numerous accomplishments—and much-deserved recognition—shine a spotlight on the quality of faculty and researchers we attract at Rensselaer and are a source of inspiration for our students and all who believe that individuals can ‘change the world.’ ”
Over the last year alone, Berman was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, co-chair of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advisory Committee for the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate, chair of the board of trustees of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, and a member of the board of directors of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. In January 2015, she was appointed to the board of trustees of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Earlier this month—along with James Hendler, the Tetherless World Senior Constellation Professor and director of The Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications—Berman was appointed to the advisory board of PeerJ Computer Science, a new, multidisciplinary open-access journal.
These recent appointments and recognitions are the latest in a 35-year career that has been distinguished by service and achievement. A mentor to graduate students, Berman is both a role model and advocate for women interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Professor Fran Berman is recognized around the globe for her pioneering work in supercomputing and data preservation and for encouraging women to pursue careers in STEM-related disciplines. Her numerous accomplishments—and much-deserved recognition—shine a spotlight on the quality of faculty and researchers we attract at Rensselaer and are a source of inspiration for our students and all who believe that individuals can ‘change the world.’ ”—Provost Prabhat Hajela
“At this point in my career, I want to make a difference in my professional communities—the digital data community and the women and technology community,” Berman said. “My efforts are focused on contributions that can make a big impact in these areas, both nationally and internationally.”
Berman joined Rensselaer in 2009 as vice president for research. In 2012 she transitioned from vice president to professor to help found and become the U.S. lead for the Research Data Alliance, an international organization created to accelerate research data-sharing worldwide. In 2009 she also became the inaugural recipient of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM)/IEEE-CS Ken Kennedy Award for “influential leadership in the design, development, and deployment of national-scale cyberinfrastructure.”
Berman has earned other honors throughout her career. The Library of Congress recognized her as a “digital preservation pioneer.” She also was named one of 15 leaders in science and technology by Newsweek, one of 10 top women in technology by Business Week, and one of 40 top technologists by IEEE Spectrum. She is a fellow of ACM and the IEEE.
Before coming to Rensselaer, Berman was director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center, a national cyberinfrastructure center, and the High Performance Computing Chaired Professor at the University of California, San Diego. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s and doctoral degree in mathematics from the University of Washington.