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Cal Poly Alumnus Selected for CSU Program to Support Doctoral Studies and Prepare for Faculty Opportunities

Gabriel Medina-Kim
Gabriel Medina-Kim (Computer Science, '20)

Gabriel Medina-Kim, who graduated from Cal Poly in June 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and minors in gender, race, culture, science and technology and women’s and gender studies, was selected to the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program (CDIP) through the California State University (CSU) earlier this year.

Medina-Kim is pursuing his doctorate in science and technology studies (STS) at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He plans to focus his studies on imagining anti-oppressive futures in computing and how the field of computer science can be taught, studied and performed in a way that centers on justice and equity.

“Before learning about CDIP, I had never considered pursuing a Ph.D., but I’m very fortunate to receive this support as well as support from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute to have this opportunity,” Medina-Kim said.

The goal of CDIP is to increase the number of faculty with the qualifications, motivation and skills needed to teach the diverse students of the CSU. Through the program, there will be workshops to help the scholars adjust to their doctoral programs and help them apply for faculty positions in the future. Additionally, certain loans will be made available exclusively to the CDIP scholars. Medina-Kim is one of 85 scholars selected by the CSU Chancellor this year. Cal Poly has now sent a graduate to the program three years in a row.

Medina-Kim will also work with a CSU faculty mentor throughout the five-year fellowship. Jane Lehr, director of Cal Poly’s Office of Student Research and a professor in ethnic studies and women’s, gender and queer studies will work with Medina-Kim in this role. Medina-Kim previously served as a teaching assistant for Lehr and worked with her on multiple research projects at Cal Poly focused on science, technology and society.

“I am thrilled that Gabriel is receiving this well-deserved support and recognition from the CSU and that he is able to continue his innovative and transformative work to reimagine the perspectives, goals, meanings and practices of computer science education via STS,” said Lehr. “I have already learned so much from and with Gabriel, and I’m looking forward to our continued partnership through this program and as faculty colleagues in the future.”

Although now in New York, Medina-Kim will continue to collaborate with Lehr and current Cal Poly students on a research project, “Engineering Social Good,” which looks at student-led humanitarian engineering projects in communities outside of the U.S. that are considered “impoverished” or “underdeveloped.” The project explores tensions between and the intentions and perceptions of students working on these projects and those whom the projects are meant to assist. In addition, the research is examining efforts by Cal Poly students and faculty to remake “engineering for good” projects to prioritize what the Design Justice Network describes as “sustainable, community-led and -controlled outcomes” that lead to “liberation from exploitative and oppressive systems.”

Originally from San Francisco, Medina-Kim hopes to return to California after the completion of his doctoral program and pursue faculty opportunities in his home state. Specifically, he hopes to work at a university where teaching is a focus and in balance with research.

“I love teaching, and I hope to be fortunate enough to continue that focus in my future faculty position,” said Medina-Kim. “I especially hope I can be teaching and researching in the areas of computing, science and technology studies and feminist studies – these fields need to be in conversation with one another, and I feel like this would be a benefit to both myself and my students.”

“I am lucky to have met people who share my research interests, and I hope I can be a similar kind of resource and advocate for my students in the future,” he added.

For more information about the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program, visit https://www2.calstate.edu/csu-system/faculty-staff/cdip

Story originally appeared in Cal Poly News

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