Siobahn Day has worked for three years to make history, not only for herself but for N.C. A&T State University and successfully defended her dissertation on Thursday to become the first woman to graduate N.C. A&T’s computer science doctoral program.

Day First Woman to Earn Computer Science Ph.D. at N.C. A&T

GREENSBORO, N.C. (July 6, 2018) - Siobahn Day has worked for three years to make history, not only for herself but for North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Day successfully defended her dissertation on Thursday to become the first  woman to graduate N.C. A&T’s computer science doctoral program.

“It’s surreal,” said Day, a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow. “Sometimes you think you aren’t good enough and it’s a lot of pressure but it’s an honor.”

The importance of this move to a more diverse doctoral pool of computer scientists is not lost on Day or anyone who has worked with Day during her three years at A&T.

“The number of women in computer sciences is very low and it is tough to be a woman in a male-dominated field,” Day said. “You have to have a certain level of dedication and determination because it can feel unwelcoming. But it is so important because it gives me an opportunity to be a change agent and help change how people see women and African Americans in this field.”

Mohd Anwar, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science, advised Day through her doctoral program.

“I am so excited to be a part of this history,” he said. “Siobahn has done a good job and you can see her transformation. Very quickly she became a good researcher and she will continue to do a good job.”

A&T began its doctoral program in computer science in 2014. The computer science department, part of the College of Engineering, performs research funded by agencies including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the U.S. Air Force, the National Security Agency, the Naval Oceanographic Office, National Science Foundation and others.

Day, received her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Winston-Salem State University, where Elva Jones, one of the first black women to earn a doctorate in computer science, mentored her.

She worked with Anwar, for her doctoral research that looks at the authorship of tweets.

“With the prevalence of fake news, alternative facts, and cyber-crimes it has become increasingly difficult to determine originating sources on online social networks,” Day said. “Basically, by looking at the natural language of tweets, we could tell who the author was.”

Both Day and Anwar hoped that their research will lead to authorship attribution will be a solution to determining the veracity of the sources of fake news as well as a preventative measure in stalling these types of occurrences.

She will continue her research with Anwar and begin work as a professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the fall.