UNI is proud of one very talented and dedicated assistant professor, Sarah Diesburg, for winning the Academic Innovation and Leadership category of the 2016 Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) Women of Innovation Award.

Sarah Diesburg
"The award is very important to me," said Diesburg. "It means that the work we are doing here at UNI to increase the participation of women in computer science is getting noticed."

Diesburg noted that the award is very important to her because it showcases the work being done at UNI to increase the participation of women in computer sciences and other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. "It serves as an energizer to keep me working at this high level in my research, classes and service activities for our students," said Diesburg.

There were dozens of women who were honored and recognized for outstanding leadership in STEM fields at the Women of Innovation Awards ceremony. Winners represented a wide range of backgrounds, including teachers, technologists, researchers, executives, entrepreneurs, government officials, innovative companies, high school students and undergraduate and graduate students. There were 73 finalists selected from a record-breaking 152 nominees.

"I hold a lot of gratitude for Katherine Cota for being an excellent mentor throughout my entire time at UNI and for nominating me for this award," said Diesburg. Katherine Cota is the associate director of UNI's John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

"At the Technology Association of Iowa, one of our highest priorities is fostering diversity, and the Iowa Women of Innovation Awards provide the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of Iowa's STEM leaders, and to inspire more girls and women to study STEM and pursue STEM careers," said Brian Waller, TAI president.

Diesburg started her education at UNI, completing her bachelor's degree in computer science in 2004. She then went on to Florida State University where she worked to get her master's degree in information assurance and Ph.D. in computer science. Now, she is a Panther once again, and has taught computer science at UNI since 2013.

Diesburg's other achievements include:

  • For making a difference in the introductory computer science classrooms at UNI through excellent and engaging curriculum, Diesburg, along with Ben Schafer, received an award of $5,000. The money was reinvested in UNI for their students. For more information on motion virtual manipulatives at UNI, visit uni.edu/cet/motion-virtual-manipulatives.
  • Two internal grants were received from the UNI Center for Educational Transformation for her work with her colleague, Adam Feldhaus, in mathematics to introduce manipulatives into the elementary school classrooms and increase student engagement in STEM-based technologies through the use of motion-sensing input devices. "The grants are to develop software for some new cutting-edge technology that uses inexpensive components to turn any wall surface into a giant touchscreen," said Diesburg. "We have developed software to make interactive elementary mathematics virtual manipulatives to be used in the classroom."
  • Received the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) EngageCSEdu Engagement Excellence Award for excellence in engagement practices for students, especially women and underrepresented minorities in computer science.
  • Helped start the Women in Computing student organization at UNI.
  • For the years 2015 through 2017, awarded the designation of UNI Center for Educational Transformation Fellowship.