Lauren Biernacki receives GSI Award from Rackham Graduate School

She is recognized for her sustained excellence in teaching, course development, and mentoring.
Lauren Biernacki
Lauren Biernacki

CSE PhD candidate Lauren Biernacki has received an Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award from the Rackham Graduate School for her sustained excellence in teaching, course development, and mentoring.

Lauren has been an instructor at CSE since 2019, when she began teaching EECS 598, Intro to CSE Graduate Studies, a course to orient first-year Ph.D. students with graduate studies and equip them with the skills needed for success in the graduate studies. Lauren designed this course, including the course materials and assignments to introduce students to the skills needed for success. The course covers various topics including advisor-student relationships, mentoring, and communicating ideas. The course has become a requirement for incoming graduate students beginning in Fall 2023 and has been assigned course number EECS 601.

Last year, Lauren co-taught a 740-person class of EECS 370, Computer Organization, with her advisor, S. Jack Hu Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Todd Austin. Due to a shortage of faculty staff, Lauren was made a full-fledged instructor for the course. She taught over 35 hours of lecture sections and implemented a much-needed overhaul of the class materials by refining the datapath content to improve clarity and integrating problem-solving activities into the class period to bolster engagement. Outside of class, she held numerous hours of one-on-one and group office hours and organized supplemental instruction sessions, including consulting with students one-on-one on their course performance and improving study strategies. The students quickly came to see her as their greatest advocate in the course staff. Lauren also led the development and refinement of the midterm and final exams, and helped manage the course’s 29 teaching assistant staff members. 

Lauren is passionate about research, teaching, and spreading the joys of computer science with those succeeding her. Since 2020, Lauren has served as a workshop instructor for a DEI in EECS workshop, where she taught new teaching assistants about how to conduct a more inclusive classroom environment, including topics of stereotype threat, implicit bias, and imposter syndrome. Lauren has also served as a mentor or instructor for a number of college and department instructional and outreach programs.  

Lauren’s research interests lie broadly in hardware security, where she works to develop secure and confidential computing systems by strengthening what underlies all machines – the hardware layer.  Currently, she is applying these techniques to sensitive data to ensure privacy in cloud-computing applications. She received her BSE in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 2017 and her MSE in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2019.  This fall, she will join Lafayette College as an Assistant Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Computer Science (CS).