CS @ ILLINOIS Recognizes Outstanding Alumni at Seventh Annual Awards
On October 20, CS @ ILLINOIS held its seventh annual Alumni Awards Ceremony and Banquet, recognizing sixteen alumni and faculty who have made professional, technical, educational, or service contributions that bring distinction to themselves, the department, and university.
Prior to the banquet, the awards recipients, students, and faculty attended a keynote address from one of the preeminent figures in robotics research, virtual reality pioneer Steven M. LaValle (BS CE ’90, MS EE ’93, PhD EE ‘95), a CS @ ILLINOIS professor.
The Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes those outstanding graduates who have made lasting impacts on society through their extraordinary professional accomplishments. The 2017 recipients were Isaac Hall, Rajesh Karmani, Richard M. Schell, James E. Smith, and Drina C. Yue.
Distinguished Achievement Award
Isaac Hall (BS CS ’04) is the Founder and Technical Fellow at Recurly, a company powering subscription billing for thousands of software, media, mobile, consumer goods, productivity, and publishing businesses. Processing billions of dollars in payments each year, Recurly has become a critical infrastructure for thousands of companies across the world, including many software-as-a-service start-ups.
In the United States, 30 to 40 percent of the food supply is thrown away, while as many as one in six Americans go hungry each day. As a graduate student and a Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Fellow at Illinois, Rajesh Karmani (PhD CS ‘13) developed the Zero Percent platform, a public benefit corporation with the mission to reduce food waste, as a way to mitigate these two problems. The platform has coordinated more 1.5 million meals from 100+ businesses to 80+ nonprofits in Chicago, Champaign, and Nashville. Last January, Karmani has joined Farmer’s Fridge, a health food vending company, as Head of Technology.
If you know of an outstanding CS alumnus who deserves recognition, make sure that the department knows! Join the tradition and make a nomination.
Known for his work on computer architecture and high-performance computing, both inside and outside of academia, James E. Smith (PhD ‘76) developed dynamic history-based branch predictors, instruction issuing methods, and techniques for providing precise interrupts that are still widely used. In leaves of absence from the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Smith contributed to the design of CDC’s CYBER 180/990, and to Cray Research’s supercomputer development and analysis efforts. In 1999, he received the prestigious ACM/IEEE Eckert-Mauchly Award, recognizing his contributions to computer architecture.
Drina C. Yue’s (BS EE ’80, MS CS ’84) career spanned the fields of engineering, telecommunications, and finance, in North America and Asia, with significant executive roles at BellSouth, Motorola, and Western Union. She is the inventor of eight telecommunications-related patents, and her work has involved network design, broadband systems and mobile technologies, as well as the money-transfer and payments businesses. Her leadership of iSteelAsia was the subject of a Harvard Business School case study as a successful company using new-economy tools to benefit traditional industry operations.
Distinguished Educator Award
The Distinguished Educator Award recognizes faculty who have made outstanding contributions to education and have profoundly influenced the lives of countless students. The 2017 recipients are Nikil D. Dutt, Svetlana Lazebnik, Steven Y. Ko, Kishor S. Trivedi, Marianne S. Winslett, and Martin D.F. Wong.
A Chancellor's Professor of CS, Cognitive Sciences, and EECS at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), Nikil D. Dutt (PhD CS ‘89) is well known for his work in embedded systems, electronic design automation, and computer architecture, receiving recognition as a Fellow of the ACM and the IEEE. His informal teaching style, combined with the ability to explain difficult concepts using real-life examples, has students consistently ranking him among the best teachers in his department. Dutt has received four UCI campus teaching and mentoring awards. Six of his doctoral students have received academic dissertation-related awards.
Svetlana Lazebnik (MS CS ’02, PhD ‘06), an Associate Professor for CS @ ILLINOIS, explores research topics in computer vision, including the joint modeling of images and text, modeling and organizing large-scale photograph collections, object recognition, scene understanding, and machine learning techniques for visual recognition. Her most significant awards include a Sloan Research Fellowship, an NSF Early CAREER Award, a Microsoft Faculty Fellowship, a DARPA Computer Science Study Group Award, and the Longuet-Higgins Prize.
At the University of Buffalo (UB), Steven Y. Ko (PhD CS ‘09) has focused much of his research on mobile devices, with a goal of making these devices, which have become so central to our lives, more transparent. Ko has been recognized with UB’s Teaching Innovation Award, a campus-level award for new methods and approaches to teaching, as well as the Early Career Teacher of the Year Award, given by UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. An Associate Professor, he’s currently Interim Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies for UB’s CSE Department.
A member of the faculty at Duke since 1975, Kishor S. Trivedi (MS CS ’72, PhD CS ‘74), the Fitzgerald Hudson Chair of ECE, has a led a distinguished career with significant research and education contributions to fault-tolerant and dependable computing. A prolific scholar and mentor, he has published more than 600 articles and has supervised 46 PhD dissertations. Trivedi is a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the recipient of IEEE Computer Society’s Technical Achievement Award for his research on software aging and rejuvenation.
For more detailed biographies of this year's recipients, or information about previous recipients, visit the CS @ ILLINOIS Alumni Awards page.
Marianne S. Winslett is well known for her contributions to information management, data security, and scientific databases, for which she was elected an ACM Fellow in 2006. During her time on the CS @ ILLINOIS faculty, she served as the director of the Advanced Digital Sciences Center (2009-13), a University of Illinois research center in Singapore addressing grand challenges in data analytics, health monitoring, smart grid, and interactive digital media. Winslett also supervised 24 PhD theses, served as an advisor for first-year graduate students, and mentored female graduate students.
Martin D.F. Wong (MS Math ’81, PhD CS ‘87) is a leading expert in Electronic Design Automation (EDA), an indispensable technology for chip design, for which he has been recognized as an IEEE Fellow. Wong has an incredible legacy as a mentor, having advised 48 PhD students, three of whom have been recognized by the EDA research community with best PhD dissertation awards. Because many of his students are now influencing industry, and due to his significant technological contributions to the field, Wong was recognized in 2015 with the inaugural EDA Research Award by Synopsys, a leading EDA company. He is the executive associate dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois.
Distinguished Service Award
The Distinguished Service Award recognizes those who have selflessly given back to the department, contributing their time, expertise, and support. The 2017 recipients are Scott Fisher and Jill Zmaczynski.
Scott Fisher’s (BS CS ’72, MS ‘76) long, productive career took him to a number of leading technology companies, and saw him move from research and development to application architecture and development, on to the business application of computing, and, eventually, to IT. In 2015, Fisher returned to CS @ ILLINOIS to serve as an Engineer in Residence. Earlier this year, he established the Scott H. and Bonita J. Fisher Endowment, honoring his late wife, Bonnie. This estate gift will fund a professorship in both computer science and mathematics, and will provide funds for the university’s main library and the Grainger Engineering Library.
A business systems analyst at Paradigm Outcomes in Lombard, Illinois, Jill Zmaczynski (BS CS ‘00) has worked to encourage girls to study engineering. A life member of the Society of Women Engineers, she has served on the Executive Board of the Chicago Regional Section. A member of the Department of Computer Science’s Alumni Advisory Board, Zmaczynski has participated as both a panelist and an alumni attendee of the Engineering at Illinois Convergence, an event for alumni to interact with current and prospective Illinois students.
C.W. Gear Outstanding Junior Faculty Award
Established by alumni, friends, and former students to recognize contributions and services of C. William Gear, head of the department from 1985 to 1990, the C. W. Gear Outstanding Junior Faculty Award recognizes junior faculty for their outstanding research and teaching.
In his most recent research, CS @ ILLINOIS Assistant Professor Aditya Parameswaran is developing powerful, intuitive, and novel tools to unlock the hidden value inherent in large datasets, independent of a person’s programming or analysis skills. These include the Zenvisage visual recommendation tool, the DataSpread scalable spreadsheet tool, and DataHub, a collaborative analytics tool. An expert on data management and data mining, Parameswaran is the author of a book on large-scale crowdsourcing, 2016’s “Crowdsourced Data Management: Industry and Academic Perspectives.” His work has been recognized with the NSF Early CAREER Award, the IEEE Technical Committee on Data Engineering’s Early Career Award, and multiple best-dissertation awards.
The David J. Kuck Outstanding Thesis Awards were established by alumni, former students, and friends in recognition of Professor Kuck's intellectual and leadership contributions. Each year, two awards are given: one for an outstanding doctoral thesis and one for an outstanding master's thesis. This year’s recipients were Andrei Ştefănescu (PhD) and Xiang Ren (MS).
David J. Kuck Outstanding Thesis Awards
Xiang Ren’s (MS CS ’16) thesis, “Effective Citation Recommendation by Information Network-based Clustering,” explored a heterogeneous information network-based clustering approach, called ClusCite, for research citation recommendations based on the contents, authors, and targeted venue of a working paper. The method learns group memberships for objects and the significance of relevance features for each interest group, while also propagating relative authority between objects, by solving a joint optimization problem. The thesis advances the frontiers of clustering analysis in heterogeneous information networks, demonstrating a double-digit improvement over conventional methods when analyzing two large, real datasets: DBLP (a computer science bibliographic database) and PubMed (a biomedical bibliography database).