Northern Michigan University student Britney Reese recently won the 2018 Martha Griffiths Award from the Marquette Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The Rock, Mich., native is a computer science major and mathematics minor. She received $250, a certificate and a recognition dinner.
Reese is a member of the NMU Robotics Club and the NMU student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery. She developed the entire frontend public web interface for the registration system to the Michigan Mathematics Prize Competition. Reese headed a team of Robotics Club members who built and programmed the new quadruped walking robot for the Northern Evolutionary Robotics Laboratory and led several discussions with grade school children who visited there. She took the lead in deciphering the programming interface of a Timex-Sinclair vintage computer and wrote a working program for the computer for NERL. She also works with the web team at NMU Marketing and Communications.
“All of the nominees were invited to an AAUW meeting and I was able to meet some wonderful people,” said Reese. “The other nominees I met were standout students and the AAUW members were super welcoming. I don't think about gender too often during my studies, but hearing about what all these women have done, and reflecting on what I've accomplished so far, made me feel proud to be a woman earning her degree.”
Reese said that she wants to have a career as a software developer for desktop applications.
Jeffrey Horn, associate professor in the Mathematics and Computer Science department, nominated Reese for the award.
“In addition to her top academic performance in the traditionally male-dominated field of computer science, finishing the major in just three years, Britney has found time and energy to make steady and significant contributions in the role of outreach to the community,” wrote Horn on the candidate nomination form. “It is rare to find someone who masters the technical material of computer science, has the initiative to apply her knowledge to new situations, can assume technical leadership and also be an enthusiastic promoter of the field to the general public.”
Horn shared a story of Reese correctly completing a mathematics homework problem that was accidentally assigned and was beyond the ability of most undergraduate mathematics majors.
The Martha Griffiths Award annually goes to a high-achieving graduating female senior. It is named in honor of Martha Griffiths, who was known for her efforts in the Civil Rights Act and for getting the Equal Rights Amendment to the House of Representatives for a vote in 1970.