Susan H. Rodger Biography

Susan H. Rodger is a Professor of the Practice in the Computer Science Department at Duke University. She was previously an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 1989 to 1994. She received her PhD in Computer Science from Purdue University in 1989. Prof. Rodger works in the areas of visualization and interaction, and computer science education. The main projects she has major contributions in are visualization and interaction software for education in theoretical computer science, computing in K-12 and peer-led team learning.

Prof. Rodger received the 2013 ACM Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award in 2014, the ACM Distinguished Educator award in 2006 and she was one of two finalist candidates for the NEEDS Premier Award for Excellence in Engineering Education Courseware for the software JFLAP (mentioned below). Rodger has written one book, an online Coursera specialization (with five short courses), and over forty journal and conference publications. Rodger's research has been supported by eleven National Science Foundation grants totaling over 6 million, eight IBM Faculty Awards, and other funding from IBM, Google, Coursera, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard for a total funding of approximately 10 million. Rodger is currently on the ACM SIGCSE Board as immediate past chair, a board member of CRA-W, and a member of the ACM Education Policy Committee. She was the chair of the AP Computer Science Development Committee from 1997-2000 and a member of the AP Computer Science Development Committee from 1995-2001. She has been a SIGCSE Board member since 2010 as Secretary (2010-2013), Board Chair (2013-2016) and Immediate Past Chair (2016-2019). She has also been involved with the SIGCSE Symposium in many ways including co-Chair for SIGCSE 2008, Program co-chair for SIGCSE 2007, Panels and Special Sessions Chair for SIGCSE 2005, and Supporter/Exhibitor Liason from 2008 to 2014. She is currently on the Steering Committee for SIGCSE's newest fourth conference CompEd. She has organized four Alice Symposiums and over fifty workshops on Alice, JFLAP, Peer-led Team learning, career mentoring for faculty, and other computer science education topics. She has supervised over ninety undergraduates and fifteen masters students in research projects, and co-advised one Ph.D. student.

Visual and Interactive Software for Computer Science

Prof. Rodger has developed JFLAP, software for experimenting with formal languages and automata, for more than twenty-five years with forty-eight students. Prof. Rodger started developing software tools for the area of formal languages and automata in 1991. The first tool developed was NPDA, then expanding into FLAP (Formal Languages and Automata Package) with Finite State Machines, NPDA and Turing Machines. Many related tools were developed along the way such as JeLLRap, LLparse, PumpLemma, and Pate. In 1996, the FLAP software was converted to Java and renamed JFLAP.

With JFLAP one can build and experiment with several types of automata (finite state machine, pushdown automata, multi-tape Turing machine, Moore and Mealy machines), regular expressions and several types of grammars (regular, context-free, and unrestricted). One can experiment with proofs such as NFA to DFA, DFA to minimal state DFA, NPDA to CFG, CFG to NPDA, etc. One can experiment with parsing algorithms including brute-force, LL(1), SLR(1), and CYK. Additionally, one can experiment with L-systems and pumping lemmas for both regular and context-free languages.

JFLAP is the leading educational tool for formal languages and automata theory and is used around the world in several types of courses including formal languages and automata, compilers, artificial intelligence, and discrete mathematics. In 2006 JFLAP had already been downloaded from over 160 countries. Here is a list of schools and other statistics on its use in 2008. Google Analytics was added to the JFLAP page on Sept. 13, 2012. For the period from Sept 2012-May 2018. there were 498,661 sessions with 392,495 Users and 1,786,273 pageviews. JFLAP 6.1 was recognized as one of two finalist candidates in the NEEDS Premier Award for Excellence in Engineering Education Courseware competition in 2007. Here is the press release, and the submission packet that contains letters from over 60 faculty in support of JFLAP. From the page are listed 9 books that use JFLAP in some way including Rodger and her student Thomas Finley's book entitled "JFLAP - An Interactive Formal Languages and Automata Package", published in 2006. Also listed on are over fifteen JFLAP papers written by Rodger, and over thirty papers written by others that use JFLAP in some way such as modifying it or using it in a class. In Rodger's 2009 SIGCSE paper she describes a two-year study on JFLAP with fourteen universities that shows the majority of students felt that having access to JFLAP made learning course concepts easier, made them feel more engaged in the course and made the course more enjoyable. The JFLAP project has been supported by six National Science Foundation grants.

Rodger has also done work in algorithm animation, creating the scripting language JAWAA to easily create animations over the web. With JAWAA one can animate both primitive shapes and data structures such as arrays, lists, stacks and queues.

Integrating Computing into K-12

Prof. Rodger is a leader in integrating computing into K-12 using the Alice 3-D virtual worlds programming environment. The Adventures in Alice Programming project has been supported by National Science Foundation ITEST and ITEST Scale-up grants totaling 3.8 million dollars with additional support from IBM. She has run four Alice Symposiums and over twenty-five Alice Workshops, with the largest Symposium having over 120 attendees. She has taught Alice in one-week to three-week workshops to over 400 K-12 teachers at Duke. She has developed free curriculum materials targetted to middle school and high school students that include over 120 curriculum materials including tutorials on programming and animation topics and challenge worlds to complete. At her two-week or longer workshops, K-12 teachers have developed over 300 lesson plans that include a sample Alice world that are also available for free. Teachers attending the workshops are in a wide range of disciplines including mathematics, science, language arts, history, music, art, foreign language, english as second language, business technology, computer applications and physical education. She has supervised over 30 undergraduate student projects on Alice and integrating computing into K-12 disciplines. Google analytics show that the Duke Alice web page has had over 50,000 users, over 66,000 sessions and over 88,000 page views since September 2012 when we started tracking it.

Peer-led Team Learning in Computer Science

Prof. Rodger is a leader in integrating peer-led team learning (PLTL) into computer science and was part of a collaborative effort with seven other universities that resulted in the website, curriculum materials on PLTL CS, and four workshops on PLTL including one two-day workshop held at Duke University in 2007 with 73 participants. This project was supported by an NSF ITWF grant.

Coursera Courses

Rodger teamed up with Owen Astrachan, Drew Hilton and Robert Duvall and developed a Coursera specialization called Java Programming and Software Engineering Fundamentals that launched in September 2015 and is a current Coursera specialization. The specialization contains five 4-week courses. The first course is Programming Foundations with JavaScript, HTML and CSS and has had over 10,000 learners complete the course. The remaining courses focus on learning Java, with the last course a capstone project to build a recommender system. Rodger is currently building a new Coursera course with Stephen Cooper on the Alice programming language that will launch in 2019.

Susan H. Rodger
Last modified: Tue Aug 28 15:19:21 EDT 2018