Niloufar Salehi is a William T. Grant Scholar studying how to leverage community participation in the development of a software system to ensure that school assignment algorithms reduce rather than exacerbate inequality. She is currently advising seven doctoral students, five of whom identify as women of color. Salehi’s goals include developing strategies to effectively mentor and train graduate students of color as they navigate academic culture. With this award, Salehi will solidify her burgeoning mentoring philosophy that emphasizes providing actionable feedback, helping students set realistic goals, and empathizing with the unique issues facing researchers of color. Salehi’s mentee, Angela Jin, is an Asian American doctoral student in her second year at the University of California, Berkeley. Jin’s goals include examining different methods for enabling stakeholder participation in the design of algorithmic software systems, learning the survey and experimental methodologies necessary to study human computer interaction, and establishing reading and time management habits that will support her research career. Jin will provide research assistance for Salehi’s Scholars project while exploring questions of how the language that people use to express their preferences within algorithmic student assignment systems shapes opportunities for meaningful participation. Through weekly research meetings, Salehi will support Jin’s efforts to design and implement controlled experiments that aim to isolate how various characteristics of a student assignment preference language impact parents’ ability to express their family’s educational needs.
With this award, Salehi will solidify her burgeoning mentoring philosophy that emphasizes providing actionable feedback, helping students set realistic goals, and empathizing with the unique issues facing researchers of color.