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Computer Science Professor Sandy Irani was recently recognized for her “dedicated and indispensable service to the theory community.” The steering committee of the IEEE Technical Committee on Mathematical Foundations of Computing (TCMF) and IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS) gave her the TCMF Distinguished Service Award — an award given “whenever a worthy person materializes.”

Irani proved herself worthy after leading efforts to combat harassment and discrimination in the Theory of Computing (TOC) community. She chaired the ad-hoc SafeTOC committee to “discuss and propose coordinated policies, procedures, and institutions to deal with harassment and related ethical issues.”

“Sexual harassment is a difficult and complex topic,” admits Irani, “but I decided to take on this role because I feel so strongly that our community should be a safe and welcoming place for everyone.”

The committee produced a report in October 2018 with recommendations, and Irani has helped implement those recommendations at various theory conferences, including FOCS 2019 (see its Code of Conduct). During a ceremony at FOCS 2019, taking place in Baltimore this November, Irani will formally receive her award.

“I was fortunate to work with a great group of people on this,” says Irani, “and I hope that our efforts will have a positive impact on our research community.”

— Shani Murray