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archiveOutstanding Undergraduate Researchers

2011 Sponsor: Microsoft Research
Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs and Microsoft Research are sponsors in alternate years.

2011 Selection Committee
This year’s selection committee included Richard Waters (Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs), Chair; Ed Fox (Virginia Tech); Gary Leavens (University of Central Florida); Anna Lubiw (University of Waterloo); and Chris Stone (Harvey Mudd College).

2011Hijung Shin

Female Awardee

2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award Awardee Senior at Princeton University

Hijung (Valentina) Shin is a Senior at Princeton University majoring in Computer Science.

Over the years, there have been a number of projects seeking to use Computer Science techniques to help reassemble archeological artifacts such as broken wall paintings. However, these projects have typically used brute force approaches to matching pieces and have been only somewhat successful. Valentina pioneered a completely different approach based on detailed analysis of the way frescoes break. She created an algorithmic fracture model through a semi-automatic study of frescoes that have been reconstructed by hand. This model of the breaking process shows great promise for improving the automatic matching of pieces. The model also opens the door on other possibilities such as understanding what kinds of events caused the destruction of a particular wall.

In addition to quality research, Valentina is a star student ranked as one of the best in the entire university. She also tutors in Princeton’s Engineering Education for Kids program.

2011Peter Bailis

Male Awardee

2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award Awardee Senior at Harvard University

Peter Bailis is a Senior at Harvard University majoring in Computer Science.

Peter created a system for proactively reducing average-case processor temperatures by injecting idle cycles into computation, decreasing cooling requirements. Leading a team of two undergraduates, one graduate student, and two faculty members, he extended this approach to large data centers and analytically determined that it could enable broader geographical adoption of free-cooling techniques (e.g., leveraging cold outside air). Peter also has worked on the Harvard RoboBees project, where he explored the relative importance of shared and private information in honeybee foraging models, which resulted in a paper that won the Best Student Paper award at a swarm intelligence conference. He has also contributed to the ongoing design and construction of a distributed operating system for micro-aerial vehicle swarms.

In addition to the research above, Peter has worked as a volunteer at the Harvard-based Small Claims Advisory Service, managing their IT infrastructure and assisting clients with legal requests.

2011Patrick Wendell

Male Awardee

2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award Awardee Senior at Princeton University

Patrick Wendell is a Senior at Princeton University majoring in Computer Science.   

A key problem in deploying Internet-scale systems is directing client requests to the best (closest/most responsive) instance of a web site. Patrick designed, built, and deployed a system called DONAR that overcomes the limitations of the current state-of-the-art of replica selection and has both conceptual and practical contributions. The work realizes optimal replica selection through a robust distributed algorithm that is both stable and effective. He demonstrated this through formal proofs, extensive simulations, and real deployment. Today, DONAR runs on a network if global servers and provides replica selection for CoralCDN, a large content distribution network and MeasurementLab, a distributed research platform.

This past summer, Patrick worked at Cloudera. There, he quickly became one of the trusted committers to Apache’s Avro—the RPC networking layer to be used in Hadoop, a distributed computing framework. Patrick’s work on Avro is designed to improve the performance, maintenance, and debugging of large distributed systems.

2011Mitchell Koch

Male Runner-Up

2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Runner-Up Senior at Rice University

Mitchell Koch is a Senior at Rice University majoring in Computer Science.

Mitchell’s main research focus has been on inferring models of signaling networks
from large data sets containing expression levels of key proteins in human T-cells. Learning networks from data is computationally very hard, scaling super-exponentially in the number of nodes. Mitchell devised a clever method for assessing the confidence of connections and discovered six new crosstalk mechanisms in the T-cell signaling pathway.

Recently, he has developed new algorithms for learning dynamic Bayesian networks. He began doing research while only a sophomore in high school. His first project involved detecting cancerous lesions in images of prostate biopsies. He transitioned into the research track described above as a junior in high school and has continued it during his years at Rice.

2011Mark D. Leiserson

Male Runner-Up

2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Runner-Up Senior at Tufts University

Mark D. Leiserson is a Senior at Tufts University majoring in Computer Science.

New high-throughput genomic experiments have resulted in massive graphs that can be mined for data about groups of genes that work together. One of the most useful patterns to look for in these graphs are small tightly connected subgraphs that have large negative maximum cuts.  Mark (Max) was the lead student researcher on a project to automatically locate such subgraphs. He implemented the entire algorithm and devised a clean and elegant technique for pruning the results. In this work he has shown both computational and biological sophistication.

Since the summer after his freshman year at Tufts, Max has worked on algorithmic problems in Computational Molecular biology. His first project resulted in his co-authoring a publication in RECOMB 2009; currently he is the first author on a paper submitted to RECOMB 2011.

Finalists (Female)

Jacqueline Addesa, Virginia Tech;
Eleanor Avrunin, Yale University;
Laura Bartha, Queen’s University;
Erin McManus, Vanderbilt University;
Robin Miller, University of Rochester; and
KatieAnna Wolf, University of Minnesota.

Finalists (Male)

Jory Denny, Texas A&M University;
Francis Ferraro, University of Rochester;
Harry Gao, College of William and Mary;
Stephen Miller, UC Berkeley;
Todor Mollov, UC San Diego; and
Adrian Vladu, Brown University; 

Honorable Mentions (Female)

Dania Alvarez, University of Louisiana at Lafayette;
Sarah Cannon, Tufts University;
Jun Hui Erh, Cornell University;
Sarah Ferraro, Harvey Mudd College;
Heather Friedberg, University of Pittsburgh;
Leilani Gilpin, UC San Diego;
Joy Kim, University of Washington;
Melisa Kudeki, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign;
Kay Ousterhout, Princeton;
Daniela Retelny, Cornell University;
Elizabeth Sams, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;
Cleo Schneider, Mount Holyoke College;
Cathy Tianjiao Zhang, Mount Holyoke College;
Jessica Wetstone, University of Pennsylvania; and
Sophia Yang, Pomona College.

Honorable Mentions (Male)

Jacob Bank, Cornell University;
Shrutarshi Basu, Lafayette College;
John Bohlmann, Purdue University;
Trevor Brown, York University;
Desai Chen, Carnegie Mellon University;
Christopher Cunningham, University of Virginia;
Jeffrey Deuel, Texas A&M University;
Akihiro Eguchi, University of Arkansas;
Daniel Fielder, Harvey Mudd College;
Nicholas FitzGerald, University of British Columbia;
Ronald Garduno, University of New Mexico;
Andrew Gocke, Northwestern University;
Daniel Hefner, University of Louisiana at Lafayette;
Cipta Herwana, Columbia University;
Yuxing Huang, Williams College;
Forrest Iandola, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign;
Christopher Johnson, Knox College;
Antony Kaplan, New York University;
Sean Kelley, Tufts University;
Samuel Kerr, Purdue University;
Tsvetan Komarov, University of Nevada, Reno;
Kevin Lewi, Carnegie Mellon University;
Jake Lussier, University of Notre Dame;
Eric McCann, University of Massachusetts, Lowell;
Aleksander Morgan, University of Virginia;
Thomas Morgan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
Fred Morstatter, Arizona State University;
Casey J. O’Brien, Marquette University;
Jairo Pava, Florida International University;
Patrick Plonski, University of Minnesota;
Brandon Plost, University of Texas at Austin;
Jeff Rasley, University of Washington;
Vinicio Reynoso, Loyola University Chicago;
Aaron Rosenfeld, Drexel University;
Abhishek Sarkar, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;
R. Colin Scott, University of Washington;
Ben Shirley, University of Western Ontario;
Christopher Steinmuller, Louisiana State University;
Nicolae Stiurca, University of Texas at Austin;
Peter Terlep, DePauw University;
Kyle Thurow, Marquette University;
Stephen Tu, UC Berkeley;
Michael Ty, Princeton University;
Joseph Wantroba, DePaul University;
Samuel White, University of Rochester;
Linfeng Yang, Harvard University;
Anak Yodpinyanee, Harvey Mudd College; and
Jiaqi Zhai, Cornell University. 

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