Mary Jean Harrold
Do a quick search of the most prolific authors of papers focused on computer science and one of the top names will be Dr. Mary Jean Harrold. In fact, in 2007 she was named the number one software engineer researcher in the world in the Communications of the ACM and she published over 200 academic papers. Educated first in mathematics, with BA and MS degrees from Marshall University, she spent twelve years teaching math at the secondary level. Harrold then continued her own education earning both a MS and a doctorate in computer science from the University of Pittsburgh.
While she was an active researcher being a teacher and mentor was just as important to her. During her career she taught at the University of Pittsburg, Clemson, Ohio State, and in 1999 she joined the faculty at Georgia Institute of Technology where in 2003 was promoted to full professor. While at Georgia Tech her research focused on developing efficient techniques and tools to automate, or partially automate development, testing and maintenance tasks of software systems. As part of this research she founded the Aristotle Research group at the school and acted as its principal investigator.
Advocating for diversity in computer science fields was important to her and in her mind, “The technology industry and its impact are everywhere. Those products need to be developed by a diverse work force, because they could potentially be used by a diverse consumer base. Diversity in software engineering ultimately makes for more usable products.”
Harrold was considered instrumental in the establishment of the biennial Software Engineering Educator’s Symposium that aimed to develop ties between software engineering researchers and faculty at minority-serving colleges. Being on the boards of the Computing Research Association and its CRA-W committee whose goal is to increase the success and participation of women in computer sciences was part of her work at helping underrepresented groups become part of the computer science landscape.
At the time of her passing Georgia Tech announced it would found the Mary Jean Harrold Fellowship to be given to a deserving student.
Written by Angela Goad