Illinois Computer Science Honors Achievements of 13 Alumni and Faculty


Illinois CS will hold its Alumni Awards in October, recognizing 13 alumni and faculty for professional, technical, educational, or service contributions.

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Illinois Computer Science will hold its eighth annual Alumni Awards Ceremony and Banquet on October 19, recognizing 13 alumni and faculty who have made professional, technical, educational, or service contributions that bring distinction to themselves, the department, and the university.

If you know of an outstanding CS alumnus who deserves recognition, make sure that the department knows! Join the tradition and make a nomination.

Submit a Nomination

This year's Keynote Speaker is Mark Tebbe (BS CS '83), who is currently the Chairman of ChicagoNEXT at World Business Chicago and an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Join us for his talk on Friday, Oct. 19 at 3 p.m. in Siebel Center 1404.

As part of the awards weekend, the annual Women in Computer Science Alumni-Student Dinner will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18 in Siebel Center 2405. Rita Patel Jackson (BS Math and CS, ’88) will be the keynote speaker. She is the head of global marketing for GE Healthcare’s new Healthcare Analytics organization.


Distinguished Achievement Alumni Award

Douglas MacGregor’s career has included key technical and executive roles in industry, and work in the academic world.

Douglas MacGregor
Douglas MacGregor

MacGregor (MS CS ’80) joined Motorola as the microcoder and micromachine architect for the company’s MC68010 and MC68020 microprocessors. Based on his work, he was awarded 24 patents and the 1985 IEEE Browder J. Thompson Memorial Prize Paper Award (with David S. Mothersole).

He later earned a PhD at Kyoto University, one of the first Americans to earn an engineering degree from a leading Japanese university, and while there founded Solbourne Computer. The joint venture with Matsushita built Sun-compatible workstations and servers.

In 1993, MacGregor joined Dell Computer, where he was general manager of the desktop business, procurement, and the notebook business. He left Dell to become a fellow in a leadership initiative at Harvard Business School.

Now, after completing an MS in cybersecurity from Johns Hopkins University last year, he is building a cybersecurity program as an adjunct professor at Western State Colorado University.

Early Career Achievement Alumni Award

As an entrepreneur, venture investor, and philanthropist, Vilas Dhar (BS ’04, along with a BS Bioengineering ’04) is a global leader in the field of social impact. 

Vilas Dhar
Vilas Dhar

His commitment to creating broader access to justice, catalyzing the development and deployment of humanitarian technology, and to championing the work of nonprofit social leaders led him to found, scale, and exit two successful companies before the age of 35, and has made him a noted senior adviser to global companies and emerging-economy governments.  

Vilas developed his commitment to technology for good as an undergraduate in computer science and bio-engineering at the University of Illinois.  Vilas went on to receive a JD from New York University School of Law and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University.

Vilas has served as the Gleitsman Fellow on Social Change at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a trustee of a major global foundation, a member of the Board of Directors of several global technology companies, and continues to support and mentor social entrepreneurs, CEOs and policymakers. Through his private office and philanthropic activities, Vilas now focuses on finding, supporting, and championing global changemakers.

Distinguished Educator Alumni Award

With research focused on parallel processing, static analysis, and automatic storage management, Professor Ron K. Cytron has had a long, productive career in both academia and the private sector.

Professor Ron K. Cytron
Professor Ron K. Cytron

Cytron (MS CS ’82, PhD CS ’84) is the associate chair of Computer Science & Engineering at Washington University. The school has recognized him with multiple teaching awards, including Northcutt-Coil Professor of the Year and the Founders Day Distinguished Faculty Award.

Cytron has been chair of the Association for Computing Machinery's special interest group on programming languages, SIGPLAN, and editor-in-chief of TOPLAS, the journal for reporting research advances in programming languages and systems. SIGPLAN recognized Cytron with its Distinguished Service Award.  In 2010, he was elected ACM Fellow “for contributions to algorithms and implementations of automatic program parallelization.”

Before joining Washington University in 1991, Cytron was a research staff member at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

In 2003, he co-founded Exegy, a St. Louis–based company that provides hardware-accelerated platforms for financial market trading and data analysis.


Won Kim (PhD CS ’80) is a distinguished professor in the Department of Software at Gachon University in Seongnam, Korea, and managing director of the National Program of Excellence in Software.

Professor Won Kim
Professor Won Kim

Kim also has deep experience in industry and is considered a pioneer of object-oriented database technology, object-relational database technology, and information integration technology. He is also recognized as an expert in data management, knowledge discovery, and Internet technology.

In 2006, when he was recognized with the ACM SIGKDD Service Award, Kim was cited as instrumental in creating SIGKDD, including serving as its first chair.  He also served as the Chair of ACM SIGMOD for nearly a decade. In 1995, he was elected ACM Fellow “for fundamental insights into query optimization in relational databases, support for engineering applications, and functionality and architecture of object-oriented databases, and for extensive editorial service.”

Kim has worked as a researcher at IBM’s Almaden Research Center and at Microelectronics and Computer Corp. He was the founder and CEO of UniSQL, Inc. and Cyber Database, Inc., before becoming senior vice president and software advisor at Samsung Electronics.

He also later served as an advisor to a number of other companies, among them Zener Systems and LG Electronics.


David Lassner (BA Economics ’76, MS CS ’81) is the president of the University of Hawai’i and also interim chancellor of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, the flagship research campus of the UH System.

University of Hawai’i President David Lassner
University of Hawai’i President David Lassner

He began his career at the university in 1977, and is focused on helping the state’s residents earn college credentials and developing an innovation sector to strengthen Hawai’i’s economy.

Lassner has served as principal investigator for $400 million in federal awards at the University of Hawaiʻi. He also led the federally funded project that interconnected all public schools, libraries and campuses on Hawai’i’s six islands with fiber optics, and is principal investigator for the Maui High Performance Computing Center and for the Pacific Disaster Center.

In addition, Lassner is a commissioner of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, a board member and vice chair of the National Association of System Heads, and a member of the Board of Governors of the East-West Center.

Early Career Educator  Alumni Award

Eric Gilbert is the John Derby Evans Associate Professor in the University of Michigan’s School of Information and a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the university.

Before coming to

Associate Professor Eric Gilbert
Associate Professor Eric Gilbert

Michigan, Gilbert (BS Math and CS ’01, PhD CS ’10) led the lab at Georgia Tech.

Gilbert is a sociotechnologist, with a research focus on building and studying social media systems. His work has been supported by grants from Facebook, Samsung, Yahoo!, Google, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Gilbert's work also has been recognized with multiple best-paper awards. He is the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award and two teaching recognitions at Georgia Tech: the Young Faculty Award from the Sigma Xi chapter and the Class of 1969 Teaching Fellow.


Karthik Pattabiraman (MS CS ’04, PhD CS ’09) is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of British Columbia, where he has been since 2010.

Associate Professor Karthik Pattabiraman
Associate Professor Karthik Pattabiraman

Pattabiraman’s research is focused on “good enough computing” – building affordable error-resilient software systems – as well as software engineering and security.

He was recognized in 2015 with a Discovery Accelerator Supplement Award in 2015 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canadian federal agency that funds research in the natural sciences and engineering. His award was for his project, “Building Error Resilient Software on Next Generation Computing Platforms.” Pattabiraman’s work has also been recognized with multiple distinguished paper or runner-up awards.

At UBC, Pattabiraman received the 2016 Killam Faculty Research Fellowship.

Pattabiraman is a senior member of the IEEE, and a member of the International Federation for Information Processing Working Group on Dependable Computing.

Distinguished Service Alumni Award

Ross Erlebacher has spent most of his professional career as a management and technology consultant working with health insurance companies on their business and information technology strategies. He is now a senior director with Cognizant.

Ross Erlebacher
Ross Erlebacher

Erlebacher (BS CS ’88, MS CS ’89) started his career as a software engineer at AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he developed and designed real-time software solutions for graphical displays and networking platforms.

He also earned an MBA from Northwestern, and has worked for other consulting firms including Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and Deloitte. 

Erlebacher is a devoted alumnus and has served the university as a member of the Illinois Computer Science Alumni Advisory Board and the Illini Leadership Council, as well as being a mentor to Illinois Promise students. Ross and his wife, Susan Silver (BA Economics, ’88), also have long supported undergraduate scholarships at Illinois with gifts to Illinois Computer Science and Economics. They established the Susan Silver and Ross Erlebacher Scholarship.

Distinguished Achievement Memorial Award

Well known for creating algorithms and software that allowed researchers to run large engineering and scientific calculations effectively on computers, Gene Golub (BS Math '53, MA Stats '54, PhD Math '59) was a cofounder of the Stanford University Computer Science Department. He served on the Stanford faculty from 1962 until his death in 2007.

Professor Gene Golub
Gene Golub

In 1964, Golub created the singular value decomposition (SVD) algorithm. It is used in a variety of applications, including search engines, signal processing, and data analysis.

Golub was a member of both the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering.

His contributions to the engineering and computer science fields were internationally recognized, with 10 honorary degrees from institutions around the world. He also co-authored 18 books and about 250 papers.

The Gene Golub Fellowship, Franz Hohn and J.P. Nash Scholarship, and Gene Golub Computer Science Visionary Scholarship Fund were established because of his love for students and desire to support them. He also established the Paul and Cynthia Saylor Professorship in Computer Science in honor of his longstanding friendship with the Saylors.

Scott H. Fisher Computer Science Teaching Award

Craig Zilles is an associate professor whose current research focuses on applying computing and data analytics to education, including the development of the Computer-Based Testing Facility.

Craig Zilles
Craig Zilles

In the past his research has focused on the interaction between compilers and computer architecture, especially in the context of managed and dynamic languages. He also developed the first algorithm that allowed the rendering of arbitrary three-dimensional polygonal shapes for haptic interfaces.

Zilles received the IEEE Education Society's 2010 Mac Van Valkenburg Early Career Teaching Award and is a recipient of an NSF CAREER Award, the College of Engineering's Rose Award and Everitt Award for Teaching Excellence, Illinois Student Senate Teaching Excellence Award, and Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

His research has been recognized by best-paper awards from ASPLOS in 2010 and 2013 and by selection for inclusion in the IEEE Micro Top Picks from the 2008 Computer Architecture Conferences.

C.W. Gear Outstanding Junior Faculty Award

Ranjitha Kumar is an assistant professor and leads the Data Driven Design Group. She and her students use data mining and machine learning to address the central challenge of creating good user experiences: tying design decisions to desired outcomes.

Ranjitha Kumar
Ranjitha Kumar

This year alone she has received an Amazon Research Award for her project, “An Experimentation Engine for Personal Fashion,” an AWS Machine Learning Research Award for another project, “Using Fashion to Learn Material Similarities,” and an NSF CAREER Award for her work building a platform that aggregates design features and user interactions from existing mobile apps.

Earlier in her career, Kumar was given a Google Faculty Research Award to “Design Mining Android Apps at Scale” and an Adobe Systems Research Award for “Probabilistic Generative Models for Mobile Design.”

In 2015 she was included as part of the university’s List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students.

David J. Kuck Outstanding Thesis Awards

As a graduate student, Matthew Sinclair (PhD CS ’17) worked with Professor Sarita Adve on building efficient memory hierarchies for tightly coupled h

Assistant Professor Matthew Sinclair
Assistant Professor Matthew Sinclair

eterogeneous systems. This work improved the performance and energy efficiency of these systems by designing more efficient coherence protocols, consistency models, and memory organizations.

Sinclair’s doctoral thesis, “Efficient Coherence and Consistency for Specialized Memory Hierarchies,” also was recognized with an honorable mention as part of the first-ever group of ACM SIGARCH/IEEE CS TCCA Outstanding Dissertation Awards. Two papers on the topic also were recognized as IEEE Micro Top Picks Honorable Mentions.

Sinclair is now an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, after spending a year as a postdoctoral researcher at AMD Research.


Currently a PhD student at Illinois Computer Science, Dimitrios Skarlatos (MS CS ’16) focuses on building practical computer

Dimitrios Skarlatos
Dimitrios Skarlatos

architectures and systems for cloud computing. His master’s thesis was on “Opportunistic Power Reassignment between Processor & Memory in 3D Stacks.”

Skarlatos, whose advisor is Professor Josep Torrellas, is the recipient of the Illinois Computer Science Excellence Fellowship.

Skarlatos also has a diploma in Electronic and Computer Engineering from the Technical University of Crete.

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This story was published September 18, 2018.