Brown CS Blog

Brown CS Alum Jina Yoon Receives An NSF CSGrad4US Fellowship

Click the link that follows to learn about other recent accomplishments by our alums.

Brown CS alum Jina Yoon has had an accomplished career thus far and continues to succeed and grow in the tech industry. One of her recent honors is being awarded the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship 2021. This NSF CSGrad4US fellowship aims to increase the number of diverse, domestic graduate students pursuing careers in the fields of computer science, computer engineering, or information science. More specifically, CSGrad4US offers an opportunity for bachelor degree holders who are working in industry, like Jina, to return to academia and pursue research-based doctoral degrees. The fellowship is a two year-long preparation program where fellows receive mentored support in identifying a graduate program, finding a research mentor, and applying to graduate programs. It also provides funding for tuition and a stipend for 3 years of a domestic PhD program.

Jina’s background is not only CS-focused: she also received a degree in Modern Culture and Media while at Brown. Her focus in this department was on digital media, art, and culture. She is also influenced by her MCM background to advocate for inclusive and ethical technology. After graduating, she joined Microsoft as a Program Manager where she worked on K-12 device management, enterprise software security, and IoT user experiences. While at Microsoft, Jina discovered a talent: “making technical things easy to understand.” Working with a diverse group of people that brought different ideas to the table enabled Jina to push herself to combine the knowledge and technical background she had with her talents as a writer. Jina strongly believes that “accessible language is our key to a more compassionate society” and as a Program Manager at Microsoft, she “loved being able to bring people together.” 

Currently, Jina works as a Communications Specialist at Riot Games where she gets to apply her skill of explaining technical concepts. At Riot Games, Jina writes the patch notes for the game League of Legends. These biweekly gameplay updates are read by millions of players worldwide and localized into seventeen languages in twelve regions. She has always wanted to explore careers in gaming, and now that she has this role, it has allowed her to “gain insight on the industry and sharpen her technical writing skills.”

Although Jina thoroughly enjoys her career, this fellowship now can help her study and research areas that she has been interested in for a long time. Jina’s earlier research work focused on Human-Computer Interaction and social computing. At Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, through an NSF-funded REU internship, Jina studied how moderators manage their online communities across platforms including Reddit, Twitch, and Facebook. The fundamental intersection of Human-Computer Interaction and social computing offers Jina the opportunity to innovate and solve problems that have substantial consequences. 

Jina is “extremely grateful for the fellowship award, not only for the recognition and funding support, but also because of the community and reassurance it has given me.” She was still hesitant earlier in 2021 about applying for PhD programs, but receiving this award gave her the “reassurance that diverse individuals are being recognized and supported in research careers.” Given this, she now “highly recommends undergraduate students to give research a try!” 

The reason Jina finds research so important is because it “exposed her to so many ways that computing can be used for social good.” It’s a way to connect the coursework to something tangible, as Jina found that “the coursework was more relevant to her research experience than her professional experience.” Her realization that “there is actually a huge need for researchers and future instructors in the field” informs her excitement about her own endeavours in problem solving as a researcher. 

To learn more about the NSF CSGrad4US Fellowship, click here.

For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communication and Outreach Specialist Jesse C. Polhemus.