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2013 Dean’s Award: Marisabel Guevara

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring

Marisabel Guevara, a Ph.D. student in Computer Science, earned a B.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and an M.E. in Computer Engineering from the University of Virginia-Charlottesville. Her research in computer architecture lies in leveraging low power components to achieve system-level energy efficiency, with a focus on integration and management of these components in data center systems.

Marisabel has an impact both on individual students and beyond, as a faculty nominator explains, "She has made extraordinary contributions to lab culture and mentoring, especially with respect to fostering undergraduate research." In regard to undergraduate researchers in the department's summer program, Marisabel is portrayed as someone who "recognizes each student's natural talents and acquired skills." She uses this knowledge to identify "a clearly defined sub-problem in her research to which those talents and skills can be applied. By linking talent to real research questions, Marisabel fosters a sense of accomplishment."

This holds true even when a student enters the lab lacking even basic research skills, as one nominator says "Coming to Duke this summer as an undergrad with zero research experience, Marisabel was all I could have hoped for in a mentor to learn the ropes. She was always willing to help, either with technical details of the projects or with discussing the high-level approach. Despite being busy with her research, I always felt like she was there to support me." Another student agrees, saying "I had no previous experience in research. As a result, I faced many hardships and had to ask Marisabel for help numerous times. She was always willing to help and really taught me a lot of the basics of research."

Marisabel also communicates her own enthusiasm for research, according to one nominator, "Not only does she mentor students regarding special details in a project, she does so in a way that communicates her personal passion for the research." Because of this, a student says, "With her help, I was able to foster a passion for research, eventually leading to my decision to pursue a Ph.D." In mentoring others, Marisabel also encourages them to work through problems, as one student says "What I am especially thankful for in her mentoring is that she would guide me to construct my own solutions rather than merely pointing out the answers." Another student notes that Marisabel fostered "an environment where communication was easy and highly beneficial" because of her "approachable and supportive nature," a sentiment seconded by a faculty nominator, who says that "Beyond the substantive contributions, Marisabel played a critical role in enhancing group culture and morale."

In regard to mentoring that extends beyond the research group, a faculty nominator says that "Marisabel's contribution to mentoring has had a multiplicative effect. At Duke, she is the chair of the ACM-W (Association for Computing Machinery), the women's group in computing's professional organization. As chair of this organization she mentored first-year graduate students and encouraged them to attend the premier professional conference for women in computing science." Marisabel also takes an interest in mentoring that creates diversity, as "She also initiated a lecture series to bring speakers from underrepresented minorities in computer science to Duke."

Marisabel's outstanding capacities to teach and to mentor are such that, "With her commitment to nurturing early talent, she truly represents the best that Duke has to offer."