Illinois College of Engineering Announces Siebel Scholars Class of 2009


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Kumaresh Pattabiraman is a FIDE-rated chess player who developed parallelized hardware and search techniques to boost the accuracy of AntiChess algorithms. Daniel Rebolledo Samper is top debater who now works to simulate computer network attacks for the purpose of training students in security. A former visual artist and sculptor, Nathan Wesling now creates shared virtual environments and real-time expressive character animation within those environments. Albert Lucius is a natural born team leader with a knack for creating algorithms and unique forms of search. A physics Olympiad gold medalist, Rajhans Samdani has now turned his expertise to natural language processing innovations.

These five accomplished Computer Science Master's degree candidates have been named the 2009 Siebel Scholars. They join an elite group chosen on the basis of outstanding academic performance and demonstrated qualities of leadership. Each receives a $25,000 award established by the Siebel Scholars Foundation to recognize the most talented students at the world's leading schools of business and computer science.

"The Siebel Scholars Program recognizes students who have demonstrated academic and leadership excellence at the world's leading graduate schools of business and computer science, and confirms the excellence of our institutions," stated Ilesanmi Adesida, dean of the College of Engineering. "We are very proud to be part of the Siebel Scholars Program in our efforts to create informed scholars and leaders, and to be considered among the top institutions in providing this interdisciplinary training."

Pattabiraman worked as part of the Global Energy team at Citadel Investment Group, LLC during his summer internship, on quantitative risk management of financial securities such as energy futures and options. He has also interned at Google Inc. where he worked with the Finance team on developing software for portfolio management. His work on parallelizing search techniques for AntiChess, a variant of chess, demonstrated promising results that could also assist decision making in competitive domains.

Rebolledo Samper used his passion for computer science to boost his passion for debating when he created the management and tabbing system for the Paris Intervarsity Debating Competition. He currently work with Professor Roy Campbell and NCSA to develop a Security Training Environment that mimics real-world attack scenarios, creating a unique capability for security personnel and system administrators to both learn and hone their skills.

Wesling draws upon his background as a visual artist and sculptor in his research work into 3D virtual environments. His early work focused on a 3D character animation application involving retargeting and inverse kinematics based on a simple 2D user interface. He is now working on 3D content delivery approaches for a virtual environment focused on academic and artistic collaboration, and on real-time expressive character animation in a shared virtual environment.

Lucius uses his background in technology and business management to innovate database and algorithm applications for emerging market needs. As part of a start-up venture, he designed, implemented, and promoted a web application that incorporates deep web search technology to fulfill vertical search needs. Recognizing an emerging market trend, he is currently developing a new mobile-web platform to deliver easier and faster mobile browsing, and is researching innovations in extracting, organizing, and displaying search data on mobile devices.

As an undergraduate, Samdani worked under Prof. Soumen Chakrabarti on Named Entity Recognition and obtained significant improvement over one of the current state-of-the-art systems, Stanford Named Entity Recognizer. Currently, under Prof. Dan Roth, Samdani is examining an NLP learning protocol to obtain and prove better bounds on the teaching dimension of s-term DNFs in average and constrained cases.

About the Siebel Scholars Foundation

Over the past eight years, the Siebel Scholars program has created a community of over 450 Scholars that fosters personal leadership, academic achievement, and the collaborative search for solutions to pressing societal problems. Siebel Scholars are key advisors to the Siebel Foundation, guiding the development of innovative programs the Foundation initiates.

The Siebel Scholars Foundation is funded by a grant from the Siebel Foundation. Established as a private foundation in 1996, the Siebel Foundation is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation. Its mission is to support projects and organizations that work to improve the quality of life, environment, and education of its community members.

View the complete press release from the Siebel Foundation (.pdf).

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This story was published May 5, 2009.