CI Fellowships Support Post-Doctoral Research in Uncertain Economic Times

8/20/2021 9:54:50 AM Illinois CS Communications

Raghavendra Pothukuchi and Le Xu have received Computing Innovation Fellowships to help launch their academic research careers.

Written by Illinois CS Communications

Two researchers with ties to Illinois CS have received 2021 Computing Innovation (CI) Fellowships, which are sponsored by the Computing Research Association and its Computing Community Consortium with strong support from the National Science Foundation.

The CI Fellows program was established to help recent and soon-to-be PhD graduates launch their careers in uncertain economic times due to the pandemic. Each fellow receives $75,000 in annual salary for two years.

Raghavendra (Raghav) Pothukuchi completed his PhD in 2020 as a member of Illinois CS professor Josep Torrellas’ research group. Pothukuchi developed intelligent computer systems for efficiency and security, using principled methods from formal control and machine learning to dynamically manage systems for achieving these goals.

Raghavendra Pothukuchi received a 2021 CI Fellowship to pursue post-doctoral research at Yale University. 
Raghavendra Pothukuchi received a 2021 CI Fellowship to pursue post-doctoral research at Yale University. 

He is now a post-doctoral researcher at Yale University, where he is developing the computing system frameworks necessary to run models of cognition on existing quantum computers. He also studies what type of changes to the quantum systems are necessary to run these models efficiently.

Modeling human cognition and behavior using quantum probability theory has become a fast-growing research discipline in the cognitive sciences. The special properties of quantum probability such as superposition of states and noncommutative measurements, enable quantum cognitive models to easily explain the rich behavior observed in humans, which is difficult or even impossible with classical probability. Currently, there is little computational infrastructure to develop these models and run them on quantum computers, severely hampering progress in this field.

Ultimately, Pothukuchi’s work may enable the development of complex models that describe human cognition more accurately than ever before. 

The CI Fellowship was particularly helpful to Pothukuchi, who contracted COVID-19 in 2021 and still has lingering health issues from the infection. His wife, Sweta Yamini Pothukuchi, is also a graduate of Illinois CS, earning her doctorate in December 2020.

“It is an honor to receive the highly competitive award, which helps me step up my research on intelligent systems into the intersection of computer systems with cognitive science and quantum computing – areas that are becoming increasingly important and which will play a major role in the future,” said Pothukuchi.

A member of CS professor Indranil Gupta’s research group, Le Xu will join the University of Texas at Austin's Department of Computer Science in September after she completes her PhD. Her post-doctoral research will involve studying and implementing serverless platforms to support new applications (stateful serverless) and infrastructure (heterogeneous cloud).

Le Xu received a 2021 CI Fellowship to pursue post-doctoral research at the University of Texas at Austin. 
Le Xu received a 2021 CI Fellowship to pursue post-doctoral research at the University of Texas at Austin. 

In her doctoral studies, Xu investigated how elastic resource provisioning helps today’s cloud systems maintain predictable performance  under  workload  influence  in  an automated  manner,  and  she explores  new  algorithms,  framework design, and efficient system implementation to achieve this goal.

She developed a framework, called Cameo, to provide elastic resource provisioning for real-time data processing, thereby improving performance for resource-constrained systems under many environmental variables. Cameo uses fine-grained stream processing to provide high resource utilization while meeting latency targets. It dynamically calculates and propagates priorities of events based on user latency targets and query semantics.

“The CI Fellowship will support my post-doctoral [work], including conducting research projects and mentoring junior graduate students, as well as building a professional network,” Xu said.

Xu, who earned BS and MS degrees in computer science from Illinois, received other accolades during her graduate studies. She won the department’s 2016 David Kuck Outstanding MS Thesis award and was selected to participate in the 2020 Rising Stars EECS Workshop, an intensive workshop for women graduate students and postdocs who are pursuing academic careers.

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This story was published August 20, 2021.