Janet Davis (2006). Associate Professor of Computer Science. B.S., Harvey Mudd College; M.S., Ph.D., University of Washington.
Janet Davis, who joined the Department of Computer Science at Grinnell College in 2006, is a specialist in Value Sensitive and Participatory Design, with a particular interest in Human-Computer Interaction. She has taught at all levels within the department as well as several courses outside the department, including a First-Year Tutorial. Her teaching style varies as widely as the courses she teaches—from using a workshop approach at the 100-level to an interactive lecture-and-discussion approach at upper levels. She also successfully places a wide range of materials on the Web to be used as references by her students as they prepare for class. A strong commitment to creativity in her teaching is apparent from her students’ evaluations and praise. She is known within and beyond her department as a curricular innovator whose colleagues, including early-career faculty, learn from her classroom methods.
Professor Davis’s scholarly interests have brought new dimensions to computer science at Grinnell. Her primary area of scholarship, Human-Computer Interaction, is inherently interdisciplinary and focuses as much on non-computational issues as on computational ones. Her scholarship has attracted students interested in mentored summer research, and these MAP students produce excellent work that is often accepted through a formal peer review process for presentation. Most people working in the area of Human-Computer Interaction do so at educational institutions where undergraduate teaching may not be emphasized and research is carried out primarily with graduate students. This, of course, is not the case at Grinnell, and the fact that Professor Davis teaches across diverse areas, in combination with a strong record of steady annual production and presentation of her scholarship at national and international levels, affirms her distinctive contribution as a computer science scholar. During her early years at Grinnell she received a Harris Faculty Fellowship to conduct this work.
Productivity has not come at the expense of her service, which reflects four major commitments: diversity, discipline, her department and the Technology Studies concentration, and the College as an evolving institution. Within the Department of Computer Science, she is described as an engaged and convivial colleague, and in every instance her participation is valued by her peers. Not least, the department acknowledges and highly appreciates her active role as they all strive to encourage more students from under-represented groups, including women, to pursue a career in the discipline. Institutionally, her thoughtful perspective is so appreciated that she was appointed to the 2012 Strategic Planning Steering Committee. Beyond the College, she is regularly invited to serve as a peer reviewer of scholarly manuscripts. Having already been asked to join the Association for Computing Machinery Committee on U.S. Public Policy, in 2010 she was selected to serve as the Committee’s chair.