Dr. Margo Seltzer‘s [Wikipedia entry, personal website] is not necessarily a well-known name in most computer science circles — I know I hadn’t heard of her until late 2007, when she encouraged my partner to come to the Harvard PhD program as her advisee — but her influence in the field is significant. She was an original codeveloper of Berkeley DB, the ubiquitous embedded database, and cofounder and CTO of Sleepycat Software, the company formed to provide commercial support for BDB in 1996. (Sleepycat and BDB were acquired by Oracle in 2006, and BDB remains available under either a commercial or an open-source license.)
Seltzer also helped break ground at Harvard — her undergraduate alma mater — for gender equality in the sciences, beginning as an associate professor a year after receiving her PhD at UC Berkeley, and winning tenure in 2000. She conducts systems research, serves as Vice President on the USENIX Board of Directors, and works to encourage more women to study computer science. On a personal note, as I mentioned, she is my partner’s PhD advisor, and has been incredibly helpful and supportive both with courses and research, and with various personal, family and health related issues my partner has had to deal with in the past couple years.