Spotlight: Posadas Graduates as the First Latina to Earn a Ph.D. from UF CISE

Brianna Posadas, Ph.D.The University of Florida Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) is proud to announce the graduation of Brianna Posadas, Ph.D., the first Latina to earn a doctoral degree from the department.

Dr. Posadas, who wants to pursue agricultural technology policy and usability in agricultural engineering design, passed her dissertation defense in April and graduated this summer with a doctoral degree in Human-Centered Computing. As she pursued her degree, Dr. Posadas was part of the Human Experience Research Lab, directed by Juan E. Gilbert, Ph.D., the Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Professor and department chair, where she worked on projects including an all-accessible voting machine called Prime III, accessibility in autonomous vehicles, and trust in AI. She was the first of Dr. Gilbert’s students to defend her dissertation remotely because of campus restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the future, she wants to bring more attention to agricultural technology policy.

“Many of the same privacy and ownership issues over data that are occurring in other tech spaces are also occurring in agriculture,” she said. “But there is very little literature in this area, especially in the United States. Agriculture is an industry that touches everyone, and we should be more concerned about how the industry is regulated.”

Dr. Posadas is currently a postdoctoral technology fellow at Media Democracy Fund. During her time at UF, she co-founded the Latino-Hispanic Organization of Graduate Students (LOGRAS), volunteered at Farm to School Alachua, spoke with elementary classrooms through Skype a Scientist, and served as the graduate ambassador for the UF chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

As a first-generation student, Dr. Posadas is the first person in her extended family to pursue a Ph.D. She is a McKnight doctoral fellow and a UF graduate school fellow. Dr. Posadas received her master’s degree in agricultural and biological engineering from UF and her bachelor’s in engineering from Harvey Mudd College.

Dr. Posadas learned about the program after a fellow student and now HCC graduate Marvin Andujar suggested she speak with Dr. Gilbert. Her goal had been to work in engineering with a focus on how people use the tools we build.

“I hadn’t heard of HCC before, and coming from engineering I wasn’t sure I would qualify,” she said. “But after talking to Dr. Gilbert and learning more about the diverse projects the lab did, I felt it was a good match for me and what I wanted to do.”

Though HCC classes were taught prior to the start of the program, the opportunity to earn a Ph.D. degree in HCC officially became an option in Fall 2016. The department’s HCC students have worked with companies such as Google, Intel, NASA and L3Harris.

Interested in learning more about our HCC Ph.D. program? Visit our degree page.