Valerie Barr

Jean E. Sammet Professor of Computer Science; on leave Fall 2021

While actively pursuing the application of software testing to artificial intelligence systems, Valerie Barr promotes the interdisciplinary application of computing through a combination of changes to computer science curricula and courses, as well as research and course collaborations with faculty from the full range of disciplines within the liberal arts. She is very active in the computer science education community and has led significant diversity efforts for the Association for Computing Machinery.

Recent Campus News

Valerie Barr

Diversifying computer science

Mount Holyoke professor Valerie Barr ’77 is a recipient of an NSF grant that funds a multi-institution collaboration toward diversity in computer science.

A group of students assembled at Project Stream, which is part of the Campus Living Lab

Campus as classroom

As monitoring stations silently record the heartbeat of the Mount Holyoke College campus, students and faculty develop the means to decode the data.

Mount Holyoke College student working on a computer in a library

Data science new major at Mount Holyoke

Mount Holyoke College launches a new major in data science for fall 2019 

Valerie Barr ’77 is the first Jean E. Sammet Professor of Computer Science.

A computer science legacy extends 70 years

Valerie Barr ’77, the first Jean E. Sammet Professor of Computer Science, shares with her benefactor an interdisciplinary vision of computing.

When Jean Sammet was given her first computer programming assignment, the field was so new that she had no books or papers to refer to. “I only had the instructions for the computers and what little brain power I had gotten from Mount Holyoke,” she said.

Computer pioneer Jean Sammet ’48 has died

Jean Sammet ’48, one of the most important early pioneers in computer science, was a long-time supporter and advocate for Mount Holyoke.

Recent Mentions in the Media

Recent Grants

Received a subaward from the National Science Foundation (NSF) via Duke University for The  Alliance  for  Identity-Inclusive  Computing  Education  (AIICE):  A Collective Impact Approach to Broadening Participation in Computing.

Recent Publications

Horton, N. J., Baumer, B. S., Zieffler, A., & Barr, V. (n.d.). The Data Science Corps Wrangle-Analyze-Visualize Program: Building Data Acumen for Undergraduate Students. Harvard Data Science Review. Retrieved from

Beaury, E.M., Finn, J.T., Corbin, J.D., Barr, V. and Bradley, B.A. (2019), Biotic resistance to invasion is ubiquitous across ecosystems of the United States. Ecology Letters. doi:10.1111/ele.13446

Recent Awards

Named a 2019 Distinguished Member of the Association for Computing Machinery. The Distinguished Member program recognizes professional experience and significant achievements in the computing field.

Recent Honors

Has been invited to be a member of the External Advisory Committee for the Templeton Initiative for Engineering and Computer Science at Union College, providing counsel on the development, implementation, and growth potential of the Initiative which will develop integrative coursework and innovative learning opportunities involving engineering and computer science in the liberal arts setting.

Gave an invited talk for the 2021 Women@GECCO workshop (part of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference).


Was an invited speaker for the National Science Foundation Townhall on Data Science in Education, October, 2021.

Valerie Barr was quoted in the article "Minding the Gaps" by Samuel Greengard, Communications of the ACM, Sept. 8, 2020. 

On September 8, Valerie Barr gave a talk entitled "What is it really and how do we do it?  Exploring Data Science, Data Analytics, Data Feminism" as part of the Iona College Careers in Science series.