Three people stand outdoors
From left: UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May, Georgia Tech Professor Emeritus Augustine O. Esogbue and computer science Ph.D. candidate Doreen Joseph. (Courtesy of Joseph)

Doreen Joseph Receives Inaugural Esogbue-May Award in Engineering Diversity

Doreen Joseph, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at the University of California, Davis, is the inaugural recipient of the Professor Emeritus Augustine O. Esogbue and Chancellor Gary May Endowed Award in Engineering Diversity.

Doreen Joseph
(Courtesy of Joseph) 

The award was established in 2023 with a gift from Augustine O. Esogbue, professor emeritus in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and a longtime mentor to Chancellor Gary S. May. It recognizes graduate students who share a passion for excellence and demonstrated commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the field of engineering and computer science, especially through dedication to enhancing UC Davis' recruiting, retaining and graduating Black Ph.D. students in STEM fields.

Before joining UC Davis, Joseph attended George Mason University, where she was the first Black woman to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in cyber security engineering. Her research focuses on using machine learning as a tool to analyze and develop more secure firmware for embedded devices, such as phones.

Several mentors, including Renetta Garrison Tull, vice chancellor of diversity, equity and inclusion and adjunct professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, encouraged Joseph to attend UC Davis. Joseph and Tull met at the convention of the National Society of Black Engineers, the same organization that led to the decades-long relationship between Esogbue and May.

Joseph has been a steadfast advocate for DEI at UC Davis. Informally, she builds community among Black Ph.D. students through game nights at her house. Formally, she has contributed to DEI initiatives in the computer science department, on campus and at the University of California systemwide level. These include the Computer Science Program-level Assessment Capacity on Enrichment for Equity Committee, the Chancellor's Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Board and the UC Committee on Affirmative Action, Diversity and Equity, among many others.

Joseph is hopeful for the anticipated impact of this award on recognizing and advancing DEI in the college.

Doreen Joseph
(Courtesy of Joseph)

"As Chancellor May likes to say, I don't mind being the first, but I don't want to be the last," explained Joseph. "I'm hoping this award paves the way for the next generation of students coming into the College of Engineering and sets the stage for how the college will be moving forward."

Joseph and Esogbue met this spring at the Chancellor's Residence. In their conversation, Esogbue celebrated Joseph's selection for the award, stating multiple times, "I'm so glad we found you."

"It was a pleasure meeting Dr. Esogbue," said Joseph. "I'm incredibly honored to be part of the legacy of both Esogbue and May. They have been very encouraging, including passing the torch to myself and future award recipients to continue the important work they've both championed all these years. I don't take that responsibility lightly, and I can only hope to make as much of an impact as they both have and to carry on their legacies with excellence." 

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