Six Alumni Earn Awards from Illinois CS Recognizing Efforts in Academia, Industry and Service

5/13/2021 Aaron Seidlitz, Illinois CS

This year’s alumni award winners include academics who engage in cutting-edge research and innovative teaching as well as industry experts who are revolutionizing computing around the globe.

Written by Aaron Seidlitz, Illinois CS

Illinois CS is pleased to honor six alumni this year with awards recognizing noteworthy efforts in academia, industry and service.

As has been the case historically, Illinois CS alumni continue to inspire and produce remarkable work in the academic setting through cutting-edge research and innovative teaching. Additionally, our graduates in the industry show a dedication to the craft that revolutionizes computing around the globe.

The 2021 Illinois CS Alumni Awards and the winners are as follows:

Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

This award honors computer science alumni or faculty members who have made professional and technical contributions that bring distinction to themselves, the department, and the university.

Eileen Burbidge
Eileen Burbidge

Eileen Burbidge (BS CS ‘93) is a Partner at Passion Capital, the leading early-stage technology venture fund based in London. She brings extensive operational experience to her investment activities gleaned from business and product roles at Yahoo!, Skype, Apple and elsewhere. On behalf of Passion, Eileen serves as non-executive director on a number of fast growing Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) including Monzo Bank, Digital Shadows, Marshmallow and Butternut Box, among others.

In addition to Passion Capital, Eileen is also HM Treasury’s Special Envoy for FinTech appointed by the Chancellor; Tech Ambassador for the Mayor of London’s office and served on former UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s Business Advisory Group as well as Chair of Tech Nation for 5 years. Eileen is also a member of the board of Dixons Carphone, the FTSE 250-listed consumer electronics retailer. She was made an MBE for services to Business in June 2015.

From her start with companies like Verizon Wireless, Eileen established a track record of technical expertise that grew into several influential positions. This included positions such as Market Development Manager for Apple Computer, Manager for Market Development at Sun Microsystems, Director of Product at Skype, Director of Communication Products at Yahoo! Europe, among other roles.

Early Career Academic Achievement Alumni Award
This award honors computer science alumni or faculty members who have attained early career milestones and show great promise toward continued contributions to computer science education and research.

Dr. Keenan Crane
Keenan Crane

Keenan Crane’s (BS CS ‘06) abilities as both a proficient researcher and highly capable teacher earned him a place on Carnegie Mellon University faculty in the Computer Science Department and the Robotics Institute beginning in 2015. Crane will be promoted to Associate Professor this year. Prior to his time at Carnegie Mellon, Crane was an NSF Mathematical Science Postdoctoral Fellow from 2013-15 at Columbia University.

His work led to several accomplishments including a Packard Fellowship and an NSF CAREER Award. Crane was also a Google PhD Fellow in the Department of Computing and Mathematical Sciences at Caltech. He’s authored a book titled, “An Excursion into Discrete Differential Geometry,” which was published in 2021. Additionally, his work has led to nearly 50 journal articles, publications, and invited papers.

Crane’s work applies insights from differential geometry to develop fundamental algorithms and data structures for geometric computing. His accomplishments in this area have been featured in venues such as Communications of the ACM and Notices of the AMS, as well as in the popular press through outlets such as WIRED, Popular Mechanics, National Public Radio, and Scientific American.

Dr. Lin Tan
Lin Tan

Lin Tan (PhD CS ‘09) became the Mary J. Elmore New Frontiers Associate Professor at Purdue University in 2020 after establishing a proven track record of research and teaching. Her research interests include AI and software synergy, software engineering, software reliability and security, and software text analytics. Some of Lin’s research focuses on leveraging machine learning and natural language processing techniques to improve software dependability and using software approaches to improve the dependability of machine learning systems. Before joining Purdue, she was a Canada Research Chair and an associate professor at the University of Waterloo.

Lin is an IEEE senior member and has co-authored papers that have received ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Awards at ASE 2020, MSR 2018, and FSE 2016; and IEEE Micro's Top Picks in 2006. Additionally, Lin was a recipient of Canada Research Chair (one of Canada's highest research honors), an NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplements Award, an Ontario Early Researcher Award, among several other awards.

Lin’s service experience also includes co-chair for several conferences – including FSE 2020 Visions and Reflections and MSR 2017 – as well as serving as an editor of IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering and the Springer Empirical Software Engineering Journal.

Distinguished Academic Achievement Alumni Award
This award honors computer science alumni or faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to computer science education and research, and recognizes those who excel at inspiring computer science students.

Dr. Jing-Yang Jou
Jing-Yang Jou

Currently serving as the President and K.T. Li Chair Professor at National Central University in Taiwan, Jing-Yang Jou (MS CS ’83, PhD CS ‘85 ) built his research and teaching success off interests in logic and physical synthesis, design verification, CAD for low power and Network on Chips. An IEEE Fellow “for contributions to the computer aided design of digital circuits,” Jing-Yang also has published more than 200 technical papers. His depth of experience expanded to several professional posts:

  • Deputy Minister of National Science Council, Taiwan, February 2010 to February 2012
  • Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), University System of Taiwan, April 2007 to January 2010
  • Executive Director of National SoC Program, April 2007 to January 2010
  • Director General of National Chip Implementation Center, National Applied Research Laboratories in Taiwan, February 2004 to June 2007
  • Chairman of Electronics Engineering Department at National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan, 2000 to 2003.
  • AT&T Bell Laboratories at Murray Hill, 1986 to 1994
  • GTE Laboratories, 1985 to 1986

Jing-Yang’s research has also earned a number of meaningful awards, including distinguished paper award of the IEEE International Conference on Computer-Aided Design in 1990; Outstanding Academy-Industry Cooperation Achievement Award granted by the Ministry of Education, Taiwan, in 2002; and the Outstanding Electrical Engineering Professor Award from CIEE in 2006.

Young Alumni Achievement Award
This award honors computer science alumni or faculty members who have attained early career milestones and show great promise toward continued professional and technical contributions that bring distinction to themselves, the department, and the university.

Dr. Albert Lucius
Albert Lucius

Albert Lucius (BS and MS CS ‘09) earned his MS and BS degree from Illinois Computer Science with highest honors and a specialization in data mining. Upon finishing his MBA from the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley, Albert moved back to Indonesia to start Kudo. He is now an Indonesian entrepreneur with 10+ years of global experience at Fortune 100 companies. His career at three distinct industry leaders – Goldman Sachs, BCG, and Apple – provided him with a unique blend of experiences in finance, consumer goods, and technology industries. Albert’s past professional work includes product development, user interface design, financial modeling, and corporate strategy.

Kudo, where he serves as the Founder and CEO, was established in 2014 and acquired by Grab in 2017. The company provides innovative ways to enable financial services for underbanked and underserved populations throughout Indonesia. Through its 2 million+ agent network, Kudo also helps SMEs by improving their financial and digital literacy. As of May 2017, Kudo was fully acquired by Grab, and Albert continued to serve as Kudo's CEO.

In October 2018, Albert joined OVO – Indonesia’s leading payments and financial services provider – as CPO & Director to lead Indonesia's digital payment transformation.

Distinguished Alumni Service Award
This award honors computer science alumni or faculty members who have made professional or technical contributions that bring distinction to themselves, the department, and the university.

Dr. Mei-Chin Tsai
Mei-Chin Tsai

Since earning her PhD from Illinois Computer Science in 1994, Mei-Chin Tsai (PhD CS ‘94) built a career at Microsoft for more than 25 years. A recognized leader in  building highly performant, reliable, and scalable cloud services, Mei-Chin currently leads a large-scale cloud infrastructure as a Principal Group Engineer Manager. Her Cosmos DB Frontend team includes more than 30 engineers to manage requests for Cosmos DB, which is a highly available, high throughput, low latency and large-scale NoSql distributed cloud service.

Mei-Chin’s current position came from a proven ability to build, retain and motivate teams at Microsoft, while also delivering business impact. She has grown talent while fostering an inclusive and diverse environment. Mei-Chin is also an expert in language implementation and architecting managed runtime. She has a proven record of defining and shipping large scale software in wide-spread use.

She is an industry leader with a track record of multiple talks in key conferences – such as QCon 2018, Java Language Summit 2019, FODSEM 2019, and ISCA 2019. She also co-hosted "Runtimes in the Cloud,” a tutorial track on academic conferences such as ISCA and HPCA. Throughout her professional efforts, Mei-Chin has remained dedicated to mentoring others at work and as a Grainger Engineering mentor.

She also generously established the Chan-Tsai Scholarship in 2015 with her husband, Chuck Chan, to provide financial assistance to deserving undergraduate students at Illinois CS.

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This story was published May 13, 2021.