Rackham alum Kyla McMullen (MSE CSE ‘07, Ph.D. ‘12) is the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science and engineering from U-M. In addition to her work as an associate professor and director of the SoundPad Lab at the University of Florida, McMullen is working to diversify academia and her field in a variety of critical ways.
Perhaps most recognizably, McMullen is co-host of Modern Figures, a popular podcast that elevates the voices of Black women in computing. Conversational and accessible, one goal of Modern Figures is to encourage high school listeners to consider a career in computing-related fields. The podcast, hosted by McMullen and her University of Florida colleague Jeremy Waisome, and presented by the Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences (iAAMCS) in collaboration with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), recently celebrated its 50th episode.
Waisome and McMullen are also collaborating with University of Florida colleagues Juan Gilbert and Christina Gardner-McCune to explore a support system for students in the University of Florida Ph.D. program who have low-income backgrounds through a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.