Brown CS and Google Research present

exploreCSR 2023-2024: Diversity in Computer Systems Research

Computer systems are the backbone of modern applications – from your operating system making the computer's hardware intelligent, to a machine learning framework like Tensorflow abstracting the details of how to turn a high-level idea into number crunching, or the massive systems that keep today's cloud data centers efficient. The science of building efficient, easy-to-use, and trustworthy computer systems is about discovering key ideas that help make people get more out of their computers. Computer systems research has contributed many key advances in recent decades, and great ideas in systems have had stunning practical impact on the industry.

But systems research, like much of CS research in general, suffers from a lack of diversity: only a handful of papers in the top systems conferences have non-male lead authors. This program seeks to improve diversity in systems research through a semester-long program of research experience for undergraduate students in CS that identify as women and/or related marginalized genders. If you enjoy systems (or think you might!), this program gives you an opportunity to learn about careers in research, how people navigate graduate school and the publication process, and give you a chance to work on a systems research project of your own with faculty at Brown University. No prior research experience required!

Our goal is to expose students to what computing research can look like, to help them build self-efficacy and practical research skills, and to encourage them to pursue graduate studies in computer science. We are especially interested in applicants from colleges and universities that do not already offer extensive research opportunities.

About The Program

Learn about research careers and experience the joy of doing systems research!

Our program consists of bi-weekly seminars, two workshops, and a research project. You will get to see what research in computer systems involves, what it's like to be a systems researcher, and what career options are available in this field!

Who can apply: Current undergraduate students (including graduating seniors) who attend college at an institution in the U.S. Northeast (Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine). We will host some in-person visits to Brown and will cover your travel costs.

Experience needed: Prospective students should have completed an introductory computer science course sequence. Coursework in computer systems is helpful, but not strictly required. No prior research experience necessary!

Activities planned: We will have bi-weekly seminar talks, as well as opportunities to give participants a "behind-the-scenes" look at what graduate study in CS looks like. These include panels on demystifying the graduate application process, Q&A's with current grad students and alumni, attendance at Brown CS lab meetings, and participation in Brown's undergraduate research symposium.

Research project: Participants will be paired with a faculty mentor who will help guide them through a semester-long research project. There are multiple project options, depending on the experience level and time commitment of each student. These include literature reviews, project proposals, replications of prior work, apprenticeships with existing research projects at Brown, or new independent research projects. The program culminates with participants presenting their work at the Brown CS Undergraduate Research Symposium in late May. Throughout the semester, participants will be full members of a research group at Brown, with access to lab meetings, Slack channels, etc.

Time commitment: The program runs roughly the duration of Brown's spring 2023 semester: January through May. We expect research group meetings, mentor meetings, and project work to take a minimum of 5 hours per week.

Stipend: Each participant in the program will receive a $400 stipend.

Tentative Program Schedule

Our program consists of bi-weekly seminars, two workshops, and a research project.

Date Activity
January 1 Applications open
January 25 Applications close
January 31 Admission decisions announced
Early February Program kick-off meeting, research projects start
February Bi-weekly seminars begin
March/April Workshop on graduate school/PhD programs
May Participate in Brown CS Undergraduate Research Symposium

How To Apply

To apply for the 2023-2024 program, fill out the online application form. The application deadline is January 25, 2024.


  • I am an undergraduate student in my first/second/third/fourth year [pick as appropriate]. Am I eligible to apply?
  • I am an undergraduate student in my final year; I will graduate in 2023. Am I eligible to apply?
  • I am an undergraduate student from [some university/college]. Am I eligible to apply?
    Yes! Since our program involves two in-person workshops, you are likely to get the most out of it if you are in the Northeast and can visit Providence, but we welcome all applicants.
  • Is this program only for Brown University undergraduate students?
    No; students from other schools are very welcome.
  • Is this program only for students with marginalized gender identities?
    The goal of the exploreCSR program is to support students from underrepresented groups to pursue graduate studies and research careers in computing (here). Although we invite anyone to apply, our program targets students who identify as women and/or related marginalized genders.
  • I am a masters or PhD student. Am I eligible to apply?
    We're afraid not, no.
  • Do you run any other research programs like exploreCSR?
    Check out our program on Socially-Responsible AI for Computational Creativity!
  • I'm a high school student. Am I eligible to apply?
    Again, we're afraid not, no.
  • Are the applications first come, first serve?
    No. We will consider all applications received by the deadline (January 25, 2024) in one go.
  • The application form asks for a transcript. Should I wait to add my grades from this semester or should I submit without?
    Our application deadline is January 25th, 2024—please submit what you have available by then. Please don't email us a transcript, either now or later on; please just resubmit your application.
  • How much detail should I put into the questions on the form, e.g., about research interests? Are you looking for a 'research statement'?
    Short and to the point, please! One or two paragraphs is fine. We're not looking for a research statement; we'd just like to be able to match you to the right people and projects.
  • I didn't receive a confirmation of my application. Can you confirm receipt?
    It almost certainly went through. If you're worried, submit another one! We'll pick up the latest submitted on January 1st. No need to email us for this one.
  • I submitted my form, but received the error: '(You can't respond to exploreCSR 2023-2024: Diversity in Computer Systems. Uploading files is not permitted when data loss prevention is enabled for your domain. Contact your domain administrator if you think this is a mistake.).' What should I do?
    It looks like your institution does not support file uploads via Google Forms. You should be able to get around this by filling out the form while logged into to a personal (i.e. non-college-affiliated) Google account (you'd have one of these if you have a personal Gmail address, for instance).

Contact Us.

Please contact Malte with any further questions about the program.