This article is published in the January 2014 issue.

2014 CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Awards

This year’s nominees were a very impressive group. A number of them were commended for making significant contributions to more than one research project, several were authors or coauthors on multiple papers, others had made presentations at major conferences, and some had produced software artifacts that were in widespread use.

Many of nominees had been involved in successful summer research or internship programs, many had been teaching assistants, tutors, or mentors, and a number had significant involvement in community volunteer efforts.

CRA gratefully acknowledges the support of Microsoft Research and Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs (MERL) who sponsor the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award program in alternate years. Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs is the sponsor of this year’s awards.

A list of the winners, runners-up, finalists, and honorable mentions appears below.

Pratiksha Thaker – Female Awardee

2014 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award AwardeeSenior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Pratiksha Thaker is a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Her research is the context of free form natural language commands given to a robot. Specifically, she modeled what clarifying question the robot should ask and how to combine the answer with the original command. She is also working to model how humans can search rapidly a large hypothesis space. In addition to her research, Pratiksha is active in advising undergraduates and in working with high school students.

Daniel Stubbs – Male Awardee

2014 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award AwardeeSenior at University of Massachusetts Amherst

Daniel Stubbs is a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Department of Computer Science. Daniel has an exemplary record of research in theoretical computer science, specifically in algorithms for data stream processing. He improved algorithms for computing statistics in randomly ordered streams of unknown length, reduced the space needed to compute the earth mover distance problem, and created an algorithm for estimating matches of graphs in the case the graphs are not accessible in their entirety. Daniel is co-teaching a one-credit undergraduate computer science course for honors students.

Allison Pearce – Female Runner-Up

2014 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Runner-UpSenior at University of Pennsylvania

Allison Pearce is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Computer Science. In her research she analyzed high‐frequency oscillations recorded from the surface of the human brain to attempt to understand how seizures are generated. She created data visualization to show changes in the oscillations before, during, and after seizures and developed a method to co-register MRI and CT data for 3D brain reconstruction. Allison is also working as a teaching assistant, helping students with difficult material.

Kui Tang – Male Runner-Up

2014 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Runner-UpSenior at Columbia University

Kui Tang is a senior at Columbia University where he is majoring in Applied Mathematics. His research is highly multidisciplinary, spanning from algorithms for Markov Random Fields, to graph-theoretic methods for privacy-aware data mining, to a nonparametric model for neural imaging, and to a profiler for measuring performance of parallel programs and identifying bottlenecks. Kui has been a teaching assistant, a judge for debate tournaments, and a leader in student organizations.


Finalists and Honorable Mentions
Finalists (Female)

Carolyn Anderson, Swarthmore College
Victoria Lai, University of Maryland
Katherine Pogrebniak, Princeton University

Finalists (Male)

Alan Kuntz, University of New Mexico
Tyler Sorensen, University of Utah
David Turner, Texas A&M University

Honorable Mentions (Female)

Diana Cai, Harvard University
Jao-Ke Chin-Lee, Harvard University
Jane Hoffswell, Harvey Mudd College
Miranda Parker, Harvey Mudd College
Leela Senthil Nathan, Brown University
Hana Snow, Princeton University
Martina Unutzer, University of Washington

Honorable Mentions (Male)

Brandon Amos, Virginia Tech
Noah Apthorpe, Princeton University
Brian Brubach, Rutgers University
Camden Carlo del Mundo, Virginia Tech
Ron Estrin, British Columbia
Louis Li, Harvard University
Aaron Lindsey, Texas A&M University
Dylan Hutchison, Stevens Institute of Technology
Robert MacDavid, Rutgers University, Camden
Andrew Noyes, Cornell University
Praneeth Sadda, Johns Hopkins University
John Sarracino, Harvey Mudd College
Clifford Tawiah, University of Central Arkansas
Muhammed Uluyol, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Jack Weinstein, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2014 Sponsor: Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs
Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs and Microsoft Research are sponsors in alternate years.

2014 Selection Committee
Maria Gini (University of Minnesota) Chair
Eric Aaron (Vassar College), Janet Davis (Grinnell College), Michael Ernst (University of Washington), Miguel Labrador (University of South Florida), Tom Wexler (Oberlin College)


2014 CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Awards