This is an archived version of CRA's website. This archive is available to provide historical content.

Please visit for the latest information.

archiveOutstanding Undergraduate Researchers

2004 Sponsor: Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs
Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs and Microsoft Research are sponsors in alternate years.

2004 Selection Committee
David Novick, University of Texas at El Paso (Chair); Ran Libeskind-Hadas, Harvey Mudd College; Kathleen McKeown, Columbia University; and Frank Tompa, University of Waterloo

2004Anna Cavender

Female Awardee

2004 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award Awardee Senior at University of Oregon

Anna Cavender is a senior at the University of Oregon. She will receive her Bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Science in June 2004.

Anna’s research is in human-computer interaction. Her research combines intellectual challenge with an extraordinary commitment to public service. Her time and efforts have been dedicated to research that opens up the creative and scientific world for those who are currently locked out through gender inequality or physical impairments. Anna first contributed to a project on computer games aimed at countering the social pressures that turn middle-school girls away from mathematics and computers. She was the primary programmer with a group of eight art students.

She is now taking a leading role in a life-changing project to enable profoundly paralyzed children to draw pictures with their eyes. Anna’s leadership in the project has involved not only the technical work, such as recognizing “pen up” and and “pen down” gestures with only eye motion as input, but also in integrating research on the role and progression of artistic expression in children’s development. One paper on this project has already been submitted and two more are in preparation, and the research results will be the subject of a patent application.

Anna was awarded the Erwin and Gertrude Juilfs Academic Scholarship, a CSEM scholarship, and a research assistantship. She currently works as a database administrator for the Department of Computer and Information Science.

2004Thuc Vu

Male Awardee

2004 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award Awardee Third Year at Carnegie Mellon University

Thuc Vu is in his third year of studies at Carnegie Mellon University. He will receive his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in May 2004.

Thuc has done significant research in artificial intelligence, contributing to two major projects. In one project, he developed a novel set of techniques that enable a designer of a multi-agent system to specify team behaviors for autonomous agents. This work included a new approach that introduced structural constraints, thus ensuring designs that would be more efficient at run-time. With his teammates, he then created an experimental test-bed for evaluating team-behavior specifications in complex and dynamic virtual worlds. In another project, Thuc single-handedly developed a simulator and optimizer for difficult logistics optimization problems. He continued to work on the core optimizer, combining a constraint-based method followed by multi-phase simulated annealing in the convex-hull of constraints to minimize costs and maximize a satisfaction function.

Thuc is also currently working on a method of automatically generating C code from specifications of agent behavior. He was the first author and presenter of a paper at AAMAS-2003, co-author of a paper at the Third ACG Workshop in 2003, and is the principal author of a paper that he and his research advisor plan to submit to AAMAS-2004. A senior faculty member describes Thuc as “simply off the scale, far off the scale.”

Thuc maintains a 4.0 average in his course work, majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics. He was selected for the Dean’s List from 2001 to 2003, and was recently initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He has been a tutor for many students in several classes, including a challenging Discrete Math class for CS majors; he is also the founder and co-president of the Vietnamese Student Association at CMU. He has been a summer intern at VT Tech Company, eMed Technologies, and Bosch Research Technology Center. Thuc won the 2001 USACO International Spring Contest in Programming and the 2001 USACO American National Olympiad in Programming, and was named to the 2001 All-American Programming Team.

2004Heather Ann Wake

Female Runner-Up

2004 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Runner-Up Senior at University of South Carolina

Heather Ann Wake is a senior at the University of South Carolina. She will receive her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering with a minor in Business Administration in May 2004.

Heather’s research centers on high-performance computing, particularly the use of reconfigurable computers. Among her accomplishments are multiple hardware implementations of a Lehmer sieve application, which were synthesized for a Star Bridge Systems Hypercomputer platform. More recently, she has been the principal integrator of VHDL for hardware programming with EDIF specifications for applications. Heather has co-authored papers published at MAPLD 2003 and in the Proceedings of the Lectures in Honour of the Sixtieth Birthday of Hugh Cowie Williams, to be published by the Fields Institute, Toronto, Canada, and was the lead author and presenter of a paper at the 2003 IEEE FCCM Symposium.

Heather serves as a research fellow while also working as a television technician for the University of South Carolina. Before that, she worked as an administrative assistant and as a sales associate at area businesses. While working, she has maintained a 3.97 GPA, has repeatedly been named to the President’s List, and has received numerous other academic honors and scholarships. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and serves as the Executive Council Student Member for the USC chapter, and serves as Web Coordinator for Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society. She has also served as head diving coach for the Five Oaks Swim Club and as a multi-sport coach for the Champions All Sports School.

2004Ethan Eade

Male Runner-Up

2004 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Runner-Up Senior at Duke University

Ethan Eade is a senior at Duke University. He will receive a Bachelor’s degree with majors in both Computer Science and Mathematics in spring 2004. As a 2003 Marshall Scholar, he will attend the University of Cambridge in fall 2004 where he will study robotics and distributed systems.

Ethan is interested in multiple areas of computer science and has contributed foundational research to several projects. For the ModelNet project, a large-scale wide-area network emulation system built on commodity hardware, he researched the application of graph partitioning to the assignment of network links to multiple computers. Ethan was co-author of a paper resulting from ModelNet published at MASCOTS ‘03, lead author of a paper on peer-to-peer networks and distributed event notification at ICTSM11, co-author of a paper on navigation algorithms at ICRA 2003, and will co-author a paper on developing a programming environment for beginning students.

Ethan maintains a 4.0 grade point average in Computer Science and is currently ranked seventh in his class at Duke. He has been named to the Dean’s List every semester and has received numerous scholarships and awards, including the Angier B. Duke Memorial Scholarship and the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. He served for two summers as an undergraduate research assistant and served as a summer intern at Cape Computing, Inc. Ethan is president of the Duke Robotics Team and is an avid musician, playing in the Duke Symphony Orchestra as principal trumpet, in student musical productions as trumpeter and orchestral director, and in various other musical groups.

Finalists (Female)


Katie Messerly, University of Texas at Austin
Margaret Yau, University of California, Berkeley
Meng Yu, University of California, Berkeley

Finalists (Male)

Abhinav Agrawal, Princeton University
Gautam Altekar, University of Rochester
Bogdan Caprita, Columbia University
Ankur Datta, University of Central Florida
Daniel Licata, Brown University
Stefan Schoenmackers, University of California, San Diego

Honorable Mentions (Female)

Amanda Askew, University of Washington
Stacy Crochet, University of Louisiana, Lafayette
Jeniffer Dietrich, Southern Methodist University
Katherine Hirsch, University of Maryland, Baltimore Co. 
Crystal Hoyer, University of Washington
Genevieve Hudak, University of Colorado, Boulder
Arati Kurani, DePaul University 
Katrina Ligett, Brown University 
Ellie Lin, University of Texas, Austin
Kristen Neal, University of Virginia 
Shraddha Pai, University of Waterloo
Erika Rice, Harvey Mudd College
Bina Shah, University of Alabama, Birmingham
Erika Shehan, Purdue University
Elsa Tai, University of Texas, El Paso 
Nina Tang, Purdue University 
Kimberly Tee, University of British Columbia 
Jane Tougas, Dalhousie University
Sarah Tyler, Carnegie Mellon University 
Kristin Vadas, Georgia Institute of Technology 
Dong-Hui Xu, DePaul University 
Grace Zheng, University of British Columbia

Honorable Mentions (Male)

Muhammad Arshad, Florida Institute of Technology
Brian Aydemir, California Institute of Technology
Ilya Bagrak, Georgia Institute of Technology 
Andrew Bortz, Carnegie Mellon University 
Alan Boyle, Mississippi State University
Christopher Bradley, University of Washington
Kurt Brown, University of South Alabama
Anshuman Chadha, UC Irvine 
Hayward Chan, University of Michigan
Sonny Chan, University of Calgary
Victor Chen, University of Texas, Austin
David Chu, University of Virginia 
David Dewey, University of Washington 
Kun Gao, UC Berkeley 
Eric Goldlust, Johns Hopkins University 
Carl Gould, UC Davis 
Stephen Ingram, Georgia Institute of Technology 
Cheuk Yiu Ip, Drexel University 
Elliott Karpilovsky, California Institute of Technology 
Benjamin Laxton, University of Delaware 
Richard Liang, University of British Columbia 
Fei Ma, Simon Fraser University
Adrian Mettler, Harvey Mudd College 
Clint Morgan, University of New Mexico
Michael Munie, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 
Mark Nelson, Harvey Mudd College
Luke Olsen, University of Calgary
Matthew Price, University of Louisiana, Lafayette
Gerald Quon, University of Waterloo
Imran Rashid, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Matthew Rasmussen, University of Minnesota
Joseph Reisinger, University of Texas, Austin
Albert Robinson, University of Rochester
Kambiz Samadi, California State University, Fresno
Saurabh Sanghvi, Harvard University
Grant Schoenebeck, Harvard University 
David Schultz, UC Berkeley
Aleksandr Simma, UC San Diego
Ankit Tandon, Louisiana State University 
Arkadej Udompanyavit, UC Irvine
James Van Dyke, University of Virginia 
Tristan Weir, Arizona State University 
Gary Yee, University of Arizona

CCC Logo

CERP Logo CRA-E Logo CRA-W Logo

1828 L STREET, NW SUITE 800, WASHINGTON, DC 20036 | P: 202-234-2111 | F: 202-667-1066