Kathryn S. McKinley
Today we would like you to meet Kathryn S. McKinley. McKinley was born on January 10, 1962 and studied computer science at Rice University, earning a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate from the university. She completed her studies in 1992.
Shortly after graduation she joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 2001, she became an associate professor at University of Texas at Austin, and was promoted to full professor before leaving in 2011 to become a principal researcher at Microsoft Research. In her biography for Microsoft, McKinley says she likes “to focus on practical problems” and she has shown that throughout her career.
In the 90’s she was part of a team that helped develop an optimization solution for the software that allowed modern hard drives to work with the ever advancing speed of processors. Her other work increased the effectiveness of processors and eliminated a problem called “false sharing.” Then, she and her colleagues introduced the Hoard C/C++ Memory Allocator, which helps operating systems like Apple’s OS X and Linux to perform as efficiently as possible over multiple microprocessors.
McKinley brought this expertise to Congress, where she testified in 2013 before the House committee on Science, Space, and Technology. In her testimony she stressed the need for investment in industry and academic research to support innovation in information technology. She spoke about how federal investment through the National Science Foundation, DARPA, and others helped to propel her own research, and what further support could help create in the future.
McKinley also helped create that future through mentoring, especially with the Computing Research Association Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research, which she helped chair from 2011 to 2014. She was also a member of the CRA’s board and DARPA’s Information Science and Technology Study Group.
Written by Mary Ratliff