William & Mary computer scientist Evgenia Smirni has been elected to the 2020 class of fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
The organization comprises more than 423,000 members in 160 countries and is a leading authority on areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics, the association said in a release.
“Recognizing the achievements of its members is an important part of the mission of the IEEE,” Toshio Fukuda, IEEE president and CEO wrote in an email. He noted that less than 0.1 percent of voting members are selected annually to be elevated as fellows.
“IEEE Fellow is a distinction reserved for select IEEE members whose extraordinary accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest are deemed fitting of this prestigious grade elevation,” the organization stated. Smirni was selected for her contributions to modeling and performance forecasting of complex systems, according to the association.
“What makes Prof. Smirni's results important and applicable are strong collaboration with industry,” the organization wrote in her nomination letter. Some of Smirni’s industry partners include IBM Research, HPLabs, Seagate Research, Network Appliances, Microsoft Research, NEC and VMWare.
“These strong collaborations with industry transform the state-of-the-art into the state-of-the-practice,” the letter stated.
Since joining William & Mary's faculty in 1997, Smirni has become known for her research accomplishments and as a respected mentor to students. In 2012, the university honored Smirni with a Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence, making her the first faculty member in the Department of Computer Science to receive the award. The following year, she was named a Distinguished Scientist by the Association for Computing Machinery, the premier professional organization for computer science.
“It is a great honor to be recognized by my colleagues for the work I’ve done in the past 20-plus years at William & Mary,” said Smirni, who currently serves as the university’s S. P. Chockley Professor of Computer Science. “To use a popular expression, ‘Nevertheless, she persisted,’ is probably what best captures the success of women in my field – and my success, as well.”
Smirni noted that this year’s class of IEEE fellows, selected from wide range of disciplines, came to a total of 282 and 241 of them were men.
“I was shocked to see the low number of women in this year’s class,” Smirni said. “Only 37 women, out of the 978 total nominations, were elevated this year. Needless to say, I was appalled, so I decided to nominate two very worthy female colleagues for next year’s class.”
Smirni says it’s important for women in STEM fields to have allies within their disciplines. She currently serves as the faculty advisor for the William & Mary organization Society of Women in Computing, a student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery.
“I strive to pass them opportunities and train them to be successful,” she said. “I was for sure given chances early on and my motto has been to serve my community well, never disappoint, and pass the chances and opportunities forward by supporting the new generation of colleagues.”