Passion for technology: Three UH women honored


Math professor and two students recognized by Association for Women in Computing

HOUSTON, June 22, 2005 Repairing aneurysm-damaged arteries, analyzing computer code patterns and improving hardware imaging techniques recently earned three University of Houston women top honors from the Association for Women in Computing (AWC).

At the annual AWC gala, Mathematics Professor Suncica Canic received one of the "Top Houston Women in Technology" awards for 2005, and two UH students were each awarded a $10,000 Kathi Bowles Scholarship. Intended to promote advanced education in the field of science and technology, the scholarships were given to Irene Cooperstein Cole, a math and computer science senior in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Barbara Nishae Brooks, a technology leadership and supervision junior in the College of Technology.

Canic was selected as an honoree for her significant career achievements and leadership roles in Houston's technology and computing arenas. Joining the UH faculty in 1998, Canic has been working on research to improve stents to treat arteries damaged by aneurysm. She is involved in collaborations with researchers from the Texas Medical Center and uses complex mathematical models to improve stent design. (See related release at

"Sunny Canic is a talented mathematician, scientist and educator, and her research is aimed at solving some very important problems related to the treatment of cardiovascular disease," said John Bear, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. "I was delighted to be on hand at the event to see UH do so well with these prestigious honors bestowed at both the faculty and student levels."

For exhibiting exemplary performance in their fields of study, Cole and Brooks each were awarded a Kathi Bowles Scholarship, established in 1988 to honor the memory of one of the AWC Houston Chapter members. Bowles was regarded as an outstanding professional among her peers and also was very active in volunteering.

"The AWC addresses the critical need for more students to enter what is known as STEM science, technology, engineering and mathematics career fields," said William Fitzgibbon, dean of the College of Technology. "It is gratifying to see our students receive awards of this caliber that nurture and encourage the development of critical STEM skills that play a vital role in technology today."

Brooks' most recent project consisted of determining a way to create an image of a hard drive and distribute it across a variety of hardware, known as a hardware independent image. This can become a tedious task because a separate image must be created for each type of platform, even if the same operating system and applications will be used on all systems. By discovering a way to make one image usable on all types of computers, she was able to save the IT department hours of tedious image building.

"Every day a new technology is unveiled, bringing about new opportunities for wisdom," Brooks said. "With the ever-changing world of IT, and my appetite to learn, I know that I will fit in nicely. This scholarship is truly a blessing."

Last summer, Cole participated in a research internship with the computer science department of Oregon State University. There, she worked with a team of graduate students and professors, all cooperating on various portions of a larger project spanning several universities. The project allowed her to apply abstract mathematics skill to the task of analyzing patterns in spreadsheet layouts. She also was able to gain experience with research and testing methods, as well as contribute to a research paper that was presented at the International Conference on Software Engineering this May.

"The excitement of new technology, a love of programming and the ability to creatively express myself are all factors that inspire me to pursue computer science," said Cole, who expects to graduate in May 2006. "The thing that excites me most is the sheer, raw power inherent in our computer technology and the potential of computers to grow still more efficient."

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