JSU computer science professor honored with IHL diversity award

JACKSON, Miss. — Jackson State University’s Frances C. Dancer, Ph.D., assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and computer science, is the recipient of the IHL diversity award. Dancer and other Mississippi community leaders were honored for working tirelessly to create a more equitable society through cutting-edge education systems.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning recognized her on Thursday, Feb. 16.

“It has been a privilege and honor to be nominated by Jackson State University (JSU) for this influential award. I thank President Thomas Hudson, Provost Alisa Mosley, and Dr. Wilbur Waters Jr. for this nomination,” Dancer said. “Along with instructing, researching, and advising, I will continue to strive to reach goals of women inclusiveness in STEM.”

Dancer represents less than 1% of African-American women in the United States who have received their Ph.D. in computer science, prompting her to optimize access and advocate for more industry partnerships between companies and underrepresented communities.

“Dr. Dancer and her work reflect the quality of talent and experiences we offer at Jackson State University. She is carving out unique spaces for marginalized populations, which supports the university’s mission,” said JSU President Thomas K. Hudson, J.D. “Dr. Dancer is helping to ensure our students receive top-tier industry knowledge and tools to help facilitate their success.”

Working collaboratively with JSU and several industry partners, Dancer has advocated and aided in establishing a Mobile Device Forensics Detectives Summer Camp, which aims to increase student performance on state exams and increase underrepresented communities’ interest in STEM sciences.

Aside from serving students within an academic context, Dancer actively engages in research interests which include: mobile device forensics, process modeling, and computer science education, where she has served as principal investigator on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant entitled Excellence in Research: Teaching Problem-Solving and Deductive Skills to K12 Students Through a Forensics Course Based on Mobile Devices.

She has been the recipient of several grants from prominent organizations, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), NSF, International Journal of Computer Science Education in Schools (IJCSES), and the International Journal of Cyber-Security and Digital Forensics (IJCSDF).

Dancer received her Bachelor of Science in mathematics (magna cum laude) from Jackson State University. Following her undergraduate tenure, she further decorated her academic resume – receiving a dual M.S./Ph.D. degree from Mississippi State University, majoring in computer science with an emphasis in computer forensics.