This year, 38 fellowships were awarded out of over 600 applications. This fellowship is awarded based on the applicant’s academic ability, leadership qualities, and engagement in outreach activities toward underserved communities with STEM as a development instrument in their home countries.
The fellowship will grant Villacres a maximum of $50,000 this year to continue her education and pursue her degree, with an option to renew the fellowship for next year, as well.
Villacres is a human-centered computing student, who was born and raised in Ecuador. She already holds a faculty position in a computer science program at Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, a university in her home country. Since beginning her work in academia, she has been interested in exploring the design of technologies that could empower vulnerable populations.
For her Ph.D., she is interested in designing culturally appropriate information technologies for helping low-income Latino immigrant parents to successfully support their children’s education.
“By funding my Ph.D., the fellowship is enabling me to pursue my career goal, which is to promote the design and evaluation of interventions based on Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for empowering vulnerable populations to improve their socio-economic conditions,” she said. “Being selected is a great honor. It not only validates my career goal in a certain way, but gives me additional tools to show others that women from developing countries are capable of achieving the same academic goals as people, men or women, from other countries.”
The goal of the Faculty for the Future Fellowship is to generate conditions that result in more women pursuing scientific careers by lowering the barriers they face when entering STEM disciplines. Fellows are expected to return to their home countries after completion of their studies to contribute to economic, social, and technological advancement by strengthening the STEM teaching and research faculties of their home institutions, and also to pursue positions in the public sector where their newly acquired skills can help provide evidence-based support for STEM policymaking.