Computer Science: Sarah Diesburg

Sarah Diesburg, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, has been named the Technology Association of Iowa (TIA) Iowa Women of Innovation Overall Winner in the Academic Innovation and Leadership category.

Diesburg began working at UNI during the fall semester of 2013. Diesburg explained that she has been quite busy at UNI, and believes she is starting to hit her stride. She has a passion for teaching quality computer classes that are accessible to all students, expanding the participation of women and minorities in computer science, as well as doing quality research in computer security and education with undergraduates at UNI.

Diesburg is involved in several organizations on campus. She formed the student group Women in Computing, which has the goal of getting more women into the field of computer science through scholarship, service, and recruiting efforts. The club has sent several women to the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, the largest technical conference for women in computing. Women in Computing has also hosted speakers and several other computer science related events such as their recent “take apart a computer” workshop. Another organization Diesburg is involved with is the UNI STEM Summer Camps, serving as a faculty camp counselor. Diesburg participated in an Introduction to Robotics workshop for girls and also worked with the Expanding Your Horizons group in the local Cedar Valley area by helping with robotics and programming workshops for middle school girls.

Not only did Diesburg found the Women in Computing organization, but in 2014 she also created the Laboratory of Security and Storage Technology (LOSST). LOSST’s purpose is to research computer privacy issues that involve data and storage by the members of LOSST researching specialized forensics and anti-forensic methods to recover, hide and destroy data.

Currently, Diesburg is also involved in another research initiative as well with Dr. Adam Feldhaus, Assistant Professor in Math Education. The purpose of the research project is to develop software for cutting-edge technology that uses inexpensive components to convert any wall surface into a giant touchscreen for educational purposes. According to Diesburg, the research project has received two internal grants from the UNI CET. The grant will be used to create and develop software to produce interactive elementary mathematics through virtual manipulatives to be used in a classroom. The grant will also provide funds to employ undergraduate students in the research process. The students involved in the research process are Cole Boudreau, Coved Oswald, and Beau Brown. Diesburg explained that the research project has completed the development phase and the software is moving into the classroom research phase.

While working at UNI, Diesburg has also won two other awards, the UNI Center for Educational Transformation (CET) Research Fellow and was also the recipient of the Engage CSEdu Engagement Excellence Award 

in 2015. 

According to Diesburg, the most gratifying part of teaching at UNI is the focus on the students, and the acknowledgment of the hard work of the faculty and staff. “Here we [the faculty and staff] are recognized for all the effort we put forth in teaching, research and service to improve the student experience,” she stated. “I wouldn’t want to work at any other place that didn’t have this focus.” Diesburg plans to continue to make improvements in the Computer Science Department. “My goals are to continue to innovate my courses to better match how students learn, involve students in cutting-edge systems and security research, and continue to work to broaden participation of women and minorities in computer science and other STEM disciplines,” Diesburg concluded.