For Black History Month, CSE Spotlights Faculty and Alumni in Academia

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Marcus Darden | Odest Chadwicke Jenkins | Jason Mars
Kyla McMullen | James Mickens | Kunle Olukotun

Kyla McMullen

Kyla McMullen (MSE CSE '07, PhD CSE '12) is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida in the Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering. Her primary research interests lie in rendering 3D audio to enhance virtual environments and to sonify information sources.

Kyla McMullen

Prof. McMullen, the first African-American woman at the University of Michigan to graduate with a PhD in Computer Science and Engineering, was fascinated by computers and technology at an early age. She attributes her desire to learn computer science to her high school teacher, Mr. Randy Ware, who worked to break his students' stereotypical view of what a computer scientist looked like. This realization pushed her to continue her education in computer science after graduating high school.

McMullen decided to attend the University of Maryland for her undergraduate studies, and while there, she applied and won a scholarship through the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. The scholars program strives to increase diversity in science, technology, engineering and related fields, and provides community support and mentors to help students succeed.

After completing her bachelor's, McMullen made her way to U-M where she continued her graduate studies in computer science and engineering. In 2007, while working on her Master's, McMullen began constructing educational software that taught children how to identify relationships between objects. She also worked on a research project through the Naval Submarine Medical Research Lab involving the construction of virtual environments that are navigable primarily using virtually spatialized sound cues; that work has potential applications for assistive technologies, training simulations, workers in sight-restricted environments.

Under the guidance of her advisor, Prof. Greg Wakefield, McMullen completed her doctoral research, which focused on assessing the individualization of rendering virtual sounds over headphones. While earning her Ph.D. she also worked as a lecturer at Wayne State University teaching computer literacy courses to over 2,000 students.

At the University of Florida, McMullen’s research focuses on virtual environments, assistive technology, data sonification, and education.

Outside of teaching, McMullen strives to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. She is involved in a number of organizations, including the National Society of Blacks in Computing, and makes public appearance to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in computer science.

Posted: February 3, 2017