This article is published in the January 2009 issue.

Outstanding Undergraduate Award Winners Announced

The Computing Research Association honors the recipients of its 2009 Outstanding Undergraduate Awards, sponsored this year by Microsoft Research. Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs (MERL) and Microsoft Research sponsor the awards in alternate years.

Winner, Female Award

Raluca Ada Popa is a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics.

At MIT, Raluca has been involved in three research projects that have resulted in three publications and two others in submission at top conferences. Her research includes: the auditing of computerized elections, cooperative caching techniques for huge databases spread across large numbers of servers, and computing useful statistics or functions about the movement of cars (e.g., automatic toll collection) without violating the privacy of drivers by revealing the position of any particular car.

After spending her freshman year at Cal Tech, Raluca transferred to MIT, maintaining a perfect GPA at both institutions. In the summer between, Raluca worked on a research project at the University of Illinois that resulted in a paper at SOSP. It is rare indeed for anyone to be on track to be an author on papers based on research in each undergraduate year. She also has served as an undergraduate tutor for the Office of Minority Education at MIT, and currently participates in the Women’s Outreach Program for the ECE Honor Society.

Runner Up, Female Award

Erin Carson is a senior at the University of Virginia, majoring in Computer Science with minors in Applied Mathematics and in Materials Science and Engineering.

At UVA, Erin has been involved in several research projects. Most notable are two involving modeling and simulation. The first concerns simulating the dissolution of alloys, which resulted in a conference paper. The second considers the uncertainties in epidemiological models and their effects on the results. Her work has brought into serious question whether any disease spread model can ever be deemed reliable.

In addition to being a fine student with a near-perfect GPA in her major and minors, Erin has worked as a TA for four semesters, gives her time freely to multiple charitable activities in the Charlottesville community, and holds an executive position in her professional engineering sorority.

Winner, Male Award

Tal Rusak is a senior at Cornell University, majoring in Computer Science.

Tal has been involved in research since freshman year, resulting in seven first-authored publications and presentations. Current research involves discovering the structure of low-power wireless networks by applying analytical methods to novel computing systems. Results show effective ways to simulate such networks and have suggested novel statistical properties of wireless links. Tal’s work won the Best Paper Award at the international ACM MSWiM’08 conference and First Place in the ACM Student Research Competitions at MobiCom’08 and SIGCSE’08. His paper has been invited for journal publication and several additional papers are currently in preparation. Concurrently, Tal is working on a research and development project to design and implement a user-friendly web-based course planning and audit system, with a paper submitted for publication. Previously, Tal studied the efficient simulation of electronic sensor devices, including the CvMOS sensor and a nanotube-embedded chemicapacitive sensor; results were published at the IEEE ISDRS’07 conference.

Tal maintains a perfect GPA, has served as a teaching assistant and peer tutor for undergraduate students, and serves on the Student Library Advisory Council. He volunteers at an after-school program for elementary school students. Tal has a deep interest in history, and has published a sole-authored paper in an international journal in this field.

Runner Up, Male Award

Arthur Mahoney is a senior at Utah State University, with a double major in Computer Science and Computational Mathematics.

Arthur Mahoney has pursued research in five areas that have resulted in three publications, two of which have Arthur listed as first author. His research includes: parallel path planning in large graphs, altruistic negotiation systems, developing novel parallel algorithms for extremely fast robotic motion planning, massively parallel search strategies for discovering novel cancer therapies, and parallel tools for hydrologic prediction and flood forecasting that scale to massive data sets.

In addition to maintaining a perfect GPA, Arthur mentors other students in the Undergraduate Research Program, tutors for the Mathematics and Statistics department, and is the administrator of the Computer Science department’s computer cluster, having designed and put it together himself.

Finalists, Female Award

Dorna Haghighi, McGill University; Sarah Loos, Indiana University; Rachel Miller, University of Virginia; Julia Schwarz, University of Washington; and Melanie Tupper, Dalhousie University.

Finalists, Male Award

Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick, University of California, Berkeley; Michael DeLisi, University of Utah; Peiran Gao, University of California, Berkeley; Kevin Karsch, University of Missouri; Michael Nowlan, Georgetown University; Nathaniel Roman, Washington University in St. Louis; and Lawson Wong, Stanford University.

Honorable Mention, Female Award

Jessie Berlin, Tufts University; Jenna Cameron, University of Western Ontario; Melanie Clements, New York University; Natalie Freed, Arizona State University; Sahar Hasan, Columbia University; Heather Justice, Harvey Mudd College; Jessica Leung, University of Washington; Samantha Leung, University of British Columbia; Gabriela Marcu, University of California, Irvine; Olena Melnychenko, Pennsylvania State University; Anna Ostberg, University of California, San Diego; Dhivya Padmanabhan, Texas A&M University; Elaine Shaver, Harvey Mudd College; Sweta Vajjhala, Georgia Institute of Technology; and Lucy Vasserman, Pomona College.

Honorable Mention, Male Award

Daniel Amirault, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Tycho Andersen, Iowa State University; Jeremiah Blocki, Carnegie Mellon University; Shaon Barman, University of Texas at Austin; Brian Burg, Purdue University; Hao Yu (Alex) Cheng, University of Toronto; Robert Clark, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Andre Cohen, Rutgers University; Jason Croft, Boston College; John Doucette, Dalhousie University; Paul Dumoulin, Pace University;
William Ella, University of Mary Washington; Robert Gevers, Purdue University; Christopher Head, University of British Columbia; Marius Iordan, Williams College; David Kawrykow, McGill University; Andy Lindeman, Mississippi State University; George Lucchese, Texas A&M University; Edward Lui, University of British Columbia; William Marczak, University of Pennsylvania; Benjamin Maurer, Carnegie Mellon University; Teodor Moldovan, Brown University; Kupa Mutungu, Princeton University; Ian Obermiller, Marquette University; Denis Pankratov, University of Toronto; Mark Przepiora, University of Calgary; Adam Raczkowski, Tufts University; Mark Reitblatt, University of Texas at Austin; Michael Ryan, University of California, Los Angeles; Cory Simon, Iowa State University; Devin Smith, Harvey Mudd College; Ian Vo, Columbia University; Ziyu Wang, University of Waterloo; Brian Wongchaowart, University of Pittsburgh; and Luke Zarko, University of Pennsylvania.

This year’s selection committee included Richard Waters (Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs), Chair; Geoff Keunning(Harvey Mudd College); Clement Lam (Concordia University); David Novick (University of Texas, El Paso); and Lynn Stein (Olin College).

Outstanding Undergraduate Award Winners Announced