Debra J. Richardson is Professor of Informatics and founding dean of the University of California–Irvine's Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS). She has been on the UCIrvine faculty since 1987. Under her leadership as chair, the ICS department was promoted to the first and only computing-focused school in the University of California system in December 2002, after which she was named the Ted and Janice Smith Dean of the new school. She served as dean through June 2010.
Dr. Richardson has always been committed to increasing the participation of women and other underrepresented minorities in information and computing technologies. She has served on the leadership team of the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) since its inception. She has recently engaged with passion to improve K-12 computer science education. Since 2005, she has chaired ACM’s Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) Advisory Council. Dr. Richardson also chairs the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools (ACCESS), a significant advocacy movement focused on reforming California education policies so that all California students have access to high-quality K-12 computer science education, especially those who have typically been disadvantaged and underrepresented in the field.
A leader in software engineering research, Richardson pioneered research in "specification-based testing", whereby formal specifications are employed to guide software testing, and has focused on enabling specification-based testing technology throughout the software lifecycle, from requirements and architecture analysis through operation and evolution. She has recently expanded her research to adapting software engineering methods to socially relevant domains – in particular, the domain of ICTD (Information and Communication Technologies for Development), with a specific interest in developing new requirements engineering approaches for work with computationally-marginalized peoples, such as those in developing countries, and the domain of environmental sustainability, with a focus on treating sustainability as a first class quality attribute in requirements engineering. Dr. Richardson has authored over 150 refereed book chapters, journal articles, and conference papers. Her research has been recognized by designation as a Fellow of Automated Software Engineering and also with two retrospective impact awards from ACM SIGSOFT.