Groundbreaking EECS alumnae honored during Black History Month

Three amazing EECS alumnae are featured on the Berkeley 150W website in celebration of Black History Month:  Arlene Cole-Rhodes (Ph.D. '89, advisor: Shankar Sastry), the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Berkeley; Melody Ivory (M.S. '96/Ph.D. '01, advisor: Marti Hearst), the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in Computer Science from Berkeley; and Valerie Taylor (Ph.D. '92, advisor: David Messerschmitt), the first Black Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Cole-Rhodes was born in Sierra Leone and moved to England to earn her B.S. in Applied Mathematics at the University of Warwick, and an M.S. in Control Engineering from Cambridge.  She is currently a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the associate dean of Graduate Studies and Research in the School of Engineering, at Morgan State University, an Historically Black University in Maryland. 

Ivory earned her B.S. in Computer Science from Purdue, where she was an inaugural Bill and Melinda Gates Scholar.  After Berkeley, she earned an M.B.A. in Operations and Marketing from The Wharton School and spent a number of years as a product manager at GE and Google. She is currently a founder and Technologist at Thrivafy, a professional development platform focusing on Black, Indigenous, and Latinx women in tech.   She is a keynote speaker at the 2021 Women in Tech Symposium, which will be hosted by CITRIS at UC Berkeley in March.

Taylor also earned her B.S. at Purdue, in CEE, followed by an M.S in EE.  As a graduate student at Berkeley, she co-founded the Summer Undergraduate Program in Engineering Research at Berkeley (SUPERB).  She became a professor at Northwestern before joining Texas A&M in 2003, and is currently the director of the MCS Division of Argonne National Laboratory.  She was named Berkeley EE Distinguished Alumna in 2020.

Sheila Humphreys, who authored these profiles, will be publishing an essay on “Early Scholars of Color at Berkeley” later this year.