Five Leading Illinois CS Students Named 2019 Siebel Scholars
Five accomplished Illinois Computer Science graduate students have been recognized for their academic achievements and leadership, joining the 2019 class of Siebel Scholars. Each will receive $35,000 during their final year of study.
Abhinav Kohar is a master's student in Computer Science and is building an efficient Hadoop clustering algorithm for analysis of large genomic sequences with Professor Jian Peng. Abhinav is also working with Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering Professor Justin Sirignano on using deep learning to study factors influencing credit risk.
Outside of school, Abhinav co-founded a company in India, Kredit Konnection, to provide financing for people who lack access to the credit system.
Kohar completed a bachelor’s degree at the Indian Institute of Technology-Patna in 2013. He then worked at Microsoft R&D, Aspiring Minds, and other startups in India and the United States. He also has interned at Honeywell, Schlumberger, the University of Houston, and the University of Heidelberg, as well as co-authoring two research papers for international conferences, ESTIMedia2012 and HiPC2013.
Medhini G. Narasimhan
A master’s student in Computer Science, Medhini is currently advised by Professors Alexander Schwing and Svetlana Lazebnik on Visual Question Answering research. Medhini’s work focuses on using external knowledge for improving language and vision tasks.
She obtained her bachelor’s degree in information technology from National Institute of Technology Karnataka, in Surathkal, India. She has interned at Florida International University, where she worked on using deep learning to solve problems in bioinformatics.
Anusri Pampari is a master’s student in Computer Science focused on developing applications for health care. Working as a member of Professor Jian Peng’s group, she has been leading a collaborative project with IBM Watson to develop a question-answering system for electronic medical records.
Anusri received the Best Paper and Presentation Award at AMIA 2017’s doctoral students’ consortium. She was also the recipient of the UIUC Graduate Student Travel Grant and Tapia Conference Travel Grant.
Anusri graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay with an Academic Excellence award. She also received an Undergraduate Research Award for her thesis research.
She led the Department of Electrical Engineering’s academic mentorship team at IIT Bombay. In appreciation, the institute awarded her the Organizational Excellence Award and Outstanding Mentorship Honor.
Riccardo Paccagnella is a master’s student in Computer Science whose research focuses on computer security with an emphasis on systems security and the security of voice-controlled IoT devices. He is advised by Professor Adam Bates.
Prior to enrolling at Illinois, Riccardo spent a year conducting research in scientific computing at Cisco Systems.
Riccardo earned his bachelor's degree in computer engineering at Politecnico di Milano, Italy, and completed an exchange semester as a computer science affiliate student at University College London. In conjunction with his studies, he led award-winning projects and served in international organizations aimed at improving education.
Zexuan Zhong is a master’s student in Computer Science and works as a research assistant in Professor Tao Xie's Automated Software Engineering research group.
Zexuan’s current interests lie in developing and using machine learning and natural language processing methods to address software engineering problems. He has just completed an internship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, where he worked on machine learning and wireless techniques.
Zexuan received a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in 2017 from Peking University. While pursuing that degree, he interned at Microsoft Research Asia, where he proposed an unsupervised framework for linking identical users across different social networks. His work was accepted at the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence 2018.
As a competitor in programming contests, Zexuan also has won several gold medals in ACM-ICPC Asia and regionals in the United States.
In addition to the five Computer Science students, Electrical and Computer Engineering doctoral student Hanchen Xu was among the Siebel Scholars chosen from graduate schools of energy science. His research focuses on power and energy systems.
About Siebel Scholars: Siebel Scholars are examining some of today’s most pressing problems and advancing on solutions. The principles underlying Siebel Scholars’ efforts are social responsibility, entrepreneurship, and lifelong community. The program was established in 2000 by the Thomas (BA History ’75, MBA ’83, MS CS ’85) and Stacey Siebel Foundation to recognize the most talented students in the world’s leading graduate schools of business, computer science, bioengineering, and energy science. Each year, more than 90 graduate students at the top of their class are selected.