Robot researcher receives EDGE in Tech Initiative Athena Award


Veronica Ahumada, director of the Technology and Social Connectedness Lab at UC Davis, was honored with the Early Career Award at the 2022 EDGE in Tech Initiative Athena Awards. They were presented virtually last week during the annual Diversity in Tech Symposium. The event celebrates innovators and explores the experiences of women and underrepresented groups in a tech-related field.   

Veronica Ahumada
Veronica Ahumada

“I’m honored to receive this award that recognizes that diversity drives innovation. Women make up only 25% and Latinas less than 1% of the STEM professoriate in the UC system. Change is desperately needed,” Ahumada said. “I am excited to continue working towards increasing our representation in tech-related fields.”

Ahumada is the first female principal investigator of a National Robotics Initiative grant at not one, but two, University of California campuses (UC Irvine and UC Davis). She is exploring robot-mediated learning for children with medical conditions and disabilities and how to increase health care worker safety. Ahumada has expertise in health informatics and human-robot interaction. She is an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Pediatrics with a cross appointment at the UC Davis MIND Institute.

She was one of four to receive the 2022 EDGE in Tech Initiative Athena Awards from the Expanding Diversity and Gender Equity in Tech (EDGE in Tech) Initiative. The awardees exemplify the goals of EDGE in Tech: to recognize those who embody, encourage and promote people who identify as women and people of color in technology.

EDGE in Tech was founded in 2016 as the Women in Tech Initiative and renamed in 2021 to better reflect its inclusive mission. It is a joint program of the Center for Information Technology in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute (CITRIS) and the UC Berkeley College of Engineering. Each year, the initiative presents the Athena Awards at its annual symposium.

The 2022 awards were given to recognize achievements in four categories: executive leadership, academic leadership, early career excellence and next-generation engagement. Winners were nominated by peers and colleagues who have been inspired by their work and efforts to foster inclusion in the field. 

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