headshot of Sharon, smiling with blue beanie

This article was originally published by Andrew Masuda with the College of Engineering.

View the complete news release here

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) – UC Santa Barbara computer science PhD student Sharon Levy has been selected to participate in the prestigious Electrical Engineering Computer Science (EECS) Rising Stars program. The annual event is an intensive two-day workshop for graduate students and
postdoctoral scholars of historically marginalized or underrepresented genders who are
interested in pursuing academic careers in electrical engineering, computer science, and
artificial intelligence (AI) and decision making.

“Being invited to the workshop is a great academic opportunity, and I am extremely happy to
have received this recognition,” says Levy, who is one of eighty-five people invited to this year’s
workshop, hosted by the University of Texas at Austin on October 27 and 28.

A fifth-year PhD student, Levy is advised by computer science associate professor William
Wang and a member of the NaturalLanguage Processing (NLP) Group. NLP refers to a
computer program’s ability to understand human language as it is spoken or written, referred to
as natural language. NLP uses AI to process real-world input and converts it into a code that a
computer can understand. Levy specializes in responsible AI, working on problems related to
the fairness, trustworthiness, and safety of natural language systems.

“Focusing on these issues is important because the adoption of machine-learning models
without prior intervention could leave users vulnerable to the spread of societal biases and other
harmful information,” explained Levy, who has previously received honors including the Amazon
Alexa AI Fellowship, the Regents Fellowships, and the Hollbrook Fellowship.

Rising Stars participants were selected based on their academic excellence, their interest in a
faculty career, and their commitment to advancing equity and inclusion. Attendees will present
their research, interact with faculty and other students from top-tier universities, and receive
advice for career advancement. Distinguished female faculty from across the country will cover
topics that range from how to apply and interview for a faculty position, and how to establish and fund their research agenda.

“I am excited to engage with successful female faculty and educate myself on the application
process and the beginnings of an academic career,” said Levy. “An academic career will give
me the freedom to conduct research that is both interesting and important to me. In addition, I
am looking forward to guiding and mentoring students in my research area and collaborating
with fellow faculty members.”

Sharon’s advisor, William Wang, describes her as, “a superstar in my lab,” and a leading
scientist in the area of responsible NLP.

“I want to congratulate her on this well-deserved national honor and recognition,” he said.
“Sharon is not only a role model who always pursues a high-impact research agenda, but also a
great mentor. She has mentored nearly ten research students in our group, and she has
influenced a generation of responsible AI researchers in my lab.”