Juan E. Gilbert, the Andrew Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Chair and associate chair of research in the UF Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE), has been nationally recognized for his commitment to help underrepresented minority students earn their doctoral degrees in computer science. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) honored Gilbert with their 2014 Mentor Award at their awards ceremony last month.
Since Gilbert’s arrival at the University of Florida in 2014, the number of African-American doctoral students in computer science enrolled at the university has grown from one to 13. France Jackson, a Ph.D. student in human-centered computing, transferred to the University of Florida to continue working with Gilbert, even though the move increased the amount of time she would need to complete her degree.
“I knew that following my advisor meant that I would have to make some serious sacrifices in my personal life, but that is how valuable my advisor is to me and how large of a role I feel he plays in my success,” Jackson wrote about Gilbert. “As my mentor, he is worth picking up and moving.”
The award review committee unanimously selected Gilbert as their top choice and awarded him perfect scores. “Dr. Gilbert has an enormous capacity for understanding the challenges faced by underserved groups — whether young people of color, women, or people from low-income backgrounds — and for thinking about how to connect those groups to technology,” wrote Freeman A. Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “He knows how to connect with people effectively and in such a way that they are brought into the work.”