Jo Atlee receives 2022 ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Service Award

Monday, March 7, 2022

Professor Jo Atlee, Director of Women in Computer Science, has received the 2022 ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Service Award, an honour bestowed for her sustained and outstanding service to the software engineering community and for enabling an equitable, diverse and inclusive research environment in software engineering worldwide.

The prestigious award will be conferred at the town hall meeting at ICSE 2022, the 44th International Conference on Software Engineering held this May in Pittsburgh. The award includes travel support to attend a SIGSOFT conference and a $1,000 honorarium.

“Congratulations to Jo on receiving this well-deserved recognition from ACM SIGSOFT,” said Raouf Boutaba, Professor and Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science. 

“In addition to her exemplary service to the professional software engineering community, as the Director of Women in Computer Science Jo has worked tirelessly to encourage women and other underrepresented groups to pursue computer science and to support them in their studies and co-op placements. Her work with Women in Computer Science at Waterloo includes offering many skill-enhancing, mentoring and community-building events for undergrad and graduate students as well as outreach programs for girls, non-binary and trans youth in Waterloo region.”

photo of Professor Jo Atlee

Professor Jo Atlee’s research interests are in software engineering with a particular focus on improving the quality of software. Her work focuses strongly on modelling software in terms of its features and on detecting, resolving and managing feature interactions, where the goal is to support the rapid development of new features, services and modular components that are oblivious of each other yet interoperate well. Applications of this work include feature-rich systems, systems-of-systems, and the Internet-of-Things.

Her research group develops theories of composition, analyses to detect feature interactions, and architectures to coordinate features and resolve interactions.

“Dr. Atlee is a leader in the SIGSOFT community, and was recognized as a Distinguished Member in 2017,” wrote Gail Murphy, Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Vice-President Research and Innovation at the University of British Columbia, in her nomination letter. 

“Since 1998, she has performed service to SIGSOFT in the form of administrative leadership in conferences, symposiums, and workshops. She has also served on editorial boards and has led major conferences, serving most recently as a General Chair of ICSE 2019 in Montreal, as well as Program Committee Co-chair of ICSE 2009 in Vancouver. She is the Director of Women in Computer Science at Waterloo, an organization dedicated to promoting women who are interested in studying or pursuing careers in computer science. Dr. Atlee has made substantial contributions to advancing the initiatives of SIGSOFT and the software engineering community in general, and has strived to promote the participation of underrepresented groups in software engineering.”

More about Professor Atlee

This is the second time in recent years that Professor Atlee’s service to the software engineering community has been recognized internationally by her peers. In May 2020, she received the IEEE Technical Council on Software Engineering Distinguished Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Award — a prestigious recognition presented annually to an individual for outstanding and sustained leadership in the software engineering community to encourage women to explore science and engineering careers.

As the Director of Women in Computer Science at Waterloo, Professor Atlee has been a frequent speaker, coach and mentor to students, staff and faculty alike. She and the WiCS team have developed programs that welcome first-year computer science women to the School, connects them with other women in computer science, and presents strategies for success. Every year, the WiCS team organizes large trips of students to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration and the ACM Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing.

Professor Atlee has raised more than $550,000 in gifts and corporate funding for WiCS, and has worked with partners to offer technical and skill-development workshops. She was the faculty advisor for Equithon, a student-run, equity-themed hackathon aimed at making computing competitions more attractive to women. She was also the first regional ambassador for Technovation Waterloo, a 12-week program and competition for girls and non-binary and trans youth ages 10–18 to learn about coding and entrepreneurship.

From 2015–17, Professor Atlee was the HeForShe advocate from the Faculty of Mathematics to promote a framework to boost participation of women in STEM disciplines, to build a pipeline of future women leaders in disciplines traditionally dominated by men, and to enhance women faculty representation on campus. She has spoken often on issues of diversity in computing, including being the keynote speaker at Waterloo’s International Women’s Day Dinner in 2015.

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