Jamika Burge of Rome, Ga., a doctoral student in the Virginia Tech College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science, has been selected to receive an IBM Ph.D. Fellowship for the 2005-2006 academic year.

The highly competitive fellowships are awarded worldwide to only 50 scholars in the fields of computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, chemistry and physics. Fellows are selected on the basis of research and technical excellence in areas of interest to IBM, and receive tuition, fees and a stipend for one academic year. Each fellowship is renewable for up to three years.

Burge’s research, which is in the area of human-computer interaction, focuses on computer-supported cooperative work and interpersonal theory as they apply to computer-mediated communication. She examines interpersonal communication via instant messaging, telephone and face-to-face communication.

“I look at what people use as well as what they need to use to communicate with each other,” Burge said. “We choose what we want to communicate, and we need to understand the ways that the media we use affects our ability to communicate.”

Burge spent the summer of 2004 working at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., where she researched and documented the requirements for transforming a physical board game into an online training simulation for project managers. She developed specifications for the simulation, as well as two functional prototypes that detailed the interactive components of the training system. At the end of the summer, an IBM human resources employee encouraged her to apply for the Ph.D. fellowship.

Burge first worked with IBM in 2000 as a research intern at the T.J. Watson Research Laboratory in Hawthorne, NY. Her interest in computer science goes back to her early education, and her interest in human-computer interaction stems from what she terms her “obligation to give back.” As she attends conferences around the country, she attempts to encourage more diversity in computer science, including more women.

At Virginia Tech, where she began her Ph.D. program in 2002, she has worked both as a graduate teaching assistant and a graduate research assistant. She currently is president of the university’s Graduate Council. Burge expects to complete her doctorate in June 2006. She holds a master’s degree in computer science from North Carolina A&T State University and a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University.

Burge was nominated for the fellowship by her advisor Deborah Tatar, associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering. Burge is an outstanding scholar and researcher who “serves as model for others of how to combine technical skill with vision,” Tatar said.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college’s 5,600 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a “hands-on, minds-on” approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology.

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