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. Microsoft Research is the sponsor of this year’s awards. A list of the winners, runners-up, finalists, and honorable mentions appears below.
Emma Harrington – Female Awardee
Senior at Williams College (non-PhD-granting institution)
Emma Harrington is a senior computer science and economics double major at Williams College. Her research is on investigating what motivates people to produce free content online. She hopes this will shed light on why people contribute to public goods on the Internet. Recently, Emma submitted a poster to the CRA undergraduate research poster competition at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and gave a short public presentation about her research. In addition to her research, Emma was a teaching assistant for multivariable calculus and captain of the Williams Varsity Softball team.
Urvashi Khandelwal – Female Awardee
Senior at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (PhD-granting institution)
Urvashi Khandelwal is a senior in computer science with a minor in mathematics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include modeling and mining large-scale entity-rich information networks, which can capture real world semantics. Her most recent project involved making high quality citation recommendations for a given scientific publication. In addition to her research, Urvashi has been a teaching assistant for the data structures course at Illinois since 2012.
Hyunsu Cho – Male Awardee
Senior at Trinity College (non-PhD-granting institution)
Hyunsu Cho is a senior computer science and mathematics double major at Trinity College. His computer science senior project is on hypergraph spectral clustering on GPUs and image classification where he is developing effective learning algorithms suitable for parallel environments. Hyunsu has been a teaching assistant in the computer science department since 2012 as well as a research assistant working on several research projects in medical imaging and scientific computing.
Danfei Xu – Male Awardee
Senior at Columbia University (PhD-granting institution)
Danfei Xu is a senior computer science major at Columbia. His research interests and contributions are related to sensory perception of robotic systems; in particular, tactile sensing, visual perception, and sensor fusion. Recently, he contributed to a research project related to robotic manipulation. The goal of the project was to have a robot pick up a garment. Danfei developed a “local grasp” function in which a robotic arm move along a fixed trajectory around the garment while recording the readings of distance sensor mounted under the arm. The local grasp function was able to reconstruct a local transverse section of the garment.
Danaë Metaxa-Kakavouli – Female Runner-Up
Senior at Brown University (PhD-granting institution)
Danaë Metaxa-Kakavouli is a senior computer science and science & society double major at Brown University. Her senior honors thesis is on developing machine learning techniques to give sleep recommendations. In the future, she plans to continue using interdisciplinary methodologies and tools, anchored in computer science, to lead research that produces valuable data, user-facing technologies, and theoretical insight in Human-Computer Interaction. In addition to her research, Danaë has been a teaching assistant for a number of computer science classes, holding office hours and developing course materials.
William Rathje – Male Runner-Up
Senior at University of Puget Sound (non-PhD-granting institution)
William Rathje is a senior computer science and English literature double major at the University of Puget Sound. His senior project is on augmented reality and outdoor localization for mobile devices. William, and his team, developed an iPhone and Android app that provides worldwide outdoor localization using a custom GPS/compass senor-based augmented reality algorithm. In addition to his research, William is the lead tutor for the Center of Writing, Learning, and Teaching at the University of Puget Sound. He has worked with hundreds of students on writing and public speaking.
Brett Boston – Male Runner-Up
Senior at University of Washington, Seattle (PhD-granting institution)
Brett Boston is a senior computer science major at the University of Washington. His research is aimed at using type systems and type interference to make it easier for programmers to guide the appropriate use of approximation. In addition to his research, Brett is currently a Coursera Teaching Assistant, working on an autograder for the Coursera programming languages course. This involves maintaining a system that can handle thousands of code submissions per week in a secure and reliable manner.
Finalists and Honorable Mentions
- Priya Donti, Harvey Mudd College
- Lisa Jones, United States Military Academy, West Point
- Saloni Parikh, University of Washington, Seattle
- Sahaana Suri, University of California, Berkeley
- Rowan Zellers, Harvey Mudd College
- Cenk Baykal, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
- Dexter Duckworth, Mississippi State University
- Aaron Lindsey, Texas A&M University
- Nicholas Sharp, Virginia Tech
Honorable Mentions (Female)
- Rachel Gordon, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
- Rachel Holladay, Carnegie Mellon University
- Caroline Lemieux, University of British Columbia
- KimYen Truong, University of Washington, Seattle
Honorable Mentions (Male)
- Eric Mustee, John Carroll University
- Youngduck Choi, New York University
- Matthew Kilgore, Lehigh University
- Alexander Lalejini, Mississippi State University
- Kevin Lee, Cornell University
- Louis Li, Harvard University
- Xiang Zhi Tan, University of Wisconsin, Madison
- Christopher Yu, Cornell University
2015 Sponsor: Microsoft Research
Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs and Microsoft Research are sponsors in alternate years.
2015 Selection Committee
Tom Wexler (Oberlin College), Chair; Eric Aaron (Vassar College); Jeffrey Forbes (Duke University); James Geller (New Jersey Institute of Technology); Lori Pollock (University of Delaware); John Reppy (University of Chicago); Lydia Tapia (University New Mexico)