collage featuring headshots of CS Graduate Student Awardees

2022 Computer Science Graduate Student Awards

This past Friday, June 10th, the Computer Science Department honored it's most outstanding graduate student's for their hard work, resilient attitudes, above-and-beyond service to the CS community, and remarkable contributions to their respective fields of research. Read on to learn more about these awardees and their notable accomplishments. Congratulations to the winners!

Computer Science PhD Student of the Year

George Tzimpragos (Advisor: Tim Sherwood)

This award is presented annually in recognition of a Ph.D. student who has excelled in both research and either department service or teaching.

George is both a dedicated instructor and mentor to undergraduate and graduate students in his lab at UCSB.

His past service to the department includes serving on the recruitment committee, the graduate admissions committee, as well as acting as a CS representative to the UCSB’s graduate student association.

From faculty: “George’s drive, creativity, engineering depth, and interdisciplinarity are, in my opinion, simply unmatched in the field at his level”.

George had many tenure-track academic interviews including CalTech, MIT, Columbia, Yale, and UC San Diego. George has accepted an offer from the University of Michigan starting this Fall.

Computer Science MS Student of the Year

This award is presented annually in recognition of a Masters student who has excelled in both research and either department service or teaching. This year, there are two awardees. 

April Sanchez (Advisor: Jonathan Balkind)

April’s research involves a new project which requires reading ISA specifications, coding in bare metal assembly, and modifying QEMU to support the new format for each ISA. This project is in collaboration with colleagues in China and Scotland. A paper with April's contribution as a core component will be submitted to ASPLOS this summer.

April's services include organizing social activities with fellow students, mentoring & onboarding junior students, and participating in both graduate and undergraduate information session/panel events to promote women within CS. April is also a former CS Undergraduate Student of the Year award recipient.

From faculty: “April has really come further into her own as an MS student, particularly in research. Even without getting to her excellent academic record, April is a model student in our department and deserves our continuing recognition”.

Ashley Bruce (Advisor: Michael Beyeler)

Ashley’s research involved the optimization of a visual implant design for bionic vision. Past studies had tried to optimize the implant location of a retinal prostheses; Ashley proposed to optimize the location of each electrode instead. A paper with Ashley’s contribution is currently under review at MICCAI (a prestigious medical imaging conference).

Ashley's services included participating in PIPELINES summer program through NAVAIR and mentoring undergrad students. In addition, Ashley served in the Data Science Summer Internship/Fellowship as lead mentor for both undergrad and high school students.

From faculty: “Looking at her success and productivity, it is sometimes easy to forget that Ashley did not come from a traditional CS background. This means that a lot of the computing skills at which she now excels were self-taught. Not only did she make it into our prestigious Masters program, but she has thrived in it”

The Caitlin Scarberry Memorial Award: 

Computer Science BS/MS Student of the Year

Rhys Tracy (Advisor: Yuan-Fang Wang)

This award is presented annually in memory of Caitlin Scarberry and in recognition of an outstanding BS/MS student who has excelled in their academics in addition to research, teaching, and/or DEI.

Rhys developed a research project to create a labeled benchmark dataset of NCAA Division I men’s volleyball games, create a natural language to represent volleyball rallies, and attempt rally predictions using LSTM, Transformer, and other deep learning strategies. 

From faculty: “Rhys took the initiative to pursue this project… Rhys's intelligence, dedication and curiosity for study is second to none of the undergraduate students I’ve met at UCSB”

Rhys is a member of UCSB's nationally-ranked NCAA Division I men's volleyball team. In addition to being a stellar athlete, Rhys is an excellent student, as demonstrated by his ability to maintain both a GPA of 3.9 and a spot on the Dean's List since Winter 2020.

Computer Science Outstanding Dissertation Award

George Tzimpragos (Advisor: Tim Sherwood)

This award is presented annually in recognition of a Ph.D. dissertation of technical excellence and high impact.

Thesis topic: “Computing with Temporal Operators”

George’s thesis has established not just one, but two transformative design approaches for energy efficient computing.

UCSB has acknowledged George’s research with four distinct fellowship awards: Szilagyi Energy Breakthrough Fellowship, the Regents Fellowship in Computer Science, the Holbrook Foundation Fellowship, and the Harold Frank Scholarship in Technology Management.

Computer Science Outstanding Mentoring Award

Yi Ding (Advisor: Tobias Höllerer)

This award is presented annually in recognition of significant contributions to mentoring undergraduate students. 

From faculty: “Of all the graduate students I have ever advised, no one has a similarly stellar mentorship record as Yi. As an ERSP and DIMAP mentor, Yi has had amazing impact with our undergraduates and has made them want to pursue academic careers.” 

During the 3 summers in which he worked as an RMP mentor, Yi also worked with 12 high-school students. Yi’s paper with a high school research student as co-first author was accepted at the premier international forum for Computer Vision, CVPR 2021.

Yi also won the competitive 2022 UCSB Graduate Division Fiona & Michael Goodchild Campus Graduate Mentoring Award, which recognizes one PhD student each year that has distinguished themselves as a mentor of undergraduates.

Computer Science Outstanding Publication Award

This award is presented annually in recognition of excellence as a main contributor of a paper accepted or published in 2021-22. This year there are two awardees.

Dheeraj Baby (Advisor: Yu-Xiang Wang)

Dheeraj won the “Best Student Paper” Award from the Conference On Learning Theory (COLT) 2021 for his join paper with Professor Wang, titled "Optimal Dynamic Regret in Exp-Concave Online Learning". This groundbreaking work solves an 18-year-old open problem. 

The paper received the highest reviewer ratings in COLT and is the first COLT publication for both Dheeraj and Professor Wang.

Fuheng Zhao (Advisors: Divy Agrawal & Amr El Abbadi)

Fuheng received this award in recognition of his paper selected for the Very Large Data Bases (VLDB) Conference 2022: "SpaceSaving±: An Optimal Algorithm for Frequency Estimation and Frequent Items in the Bounded Deletion Model". 

This is Fuheng’s second published paper selected for VLDB. Fuheng is one of the first researchers to explore a very important large data model, namely the “bounded deletion model”.

Computer Science Outstanding TA Award

This award is presented annually in recognition of excellence as a Department of Computer Science Teaching Assistant. This year, there are three awardees.

Yijun Xiao (Advisor: William Wang)

From faculty: “Yijun was very active in answering students’ questions on the course discussion forum. What impressed me most was that Yijun paid a lot of effort in making the course better and helping our students learn more.”

From students: "Yijun is very knowledgeable about the course material and able to explain concepts clearly. He was extremely helpful in answering questions during office hours. Yijun has a very good understanding of the course problems, he is very kind and patient with explanations.”

Liu Kurafeeva (Advisors: Chandra Krintz & Rich Wolski)

From faculty: “Her enthusiasm greatly inspired the other TAs, who also took the initiative to develop materials and resources for the class. Overall, Liu has been an invaluable addition to the course teaching team. Notably, her evaluations have been excellent, with many students commenting on how helpful, knowledgeable, passionate, patient, prompt, and energetic she is.”

From students: "Liu was amazing! Always encouraging and would point out what I did right and where I was on the right track, but was missing something. Liu was always excited to teach.”

Rohan Bhatia (Advisor: Arpit Gupta)

From faculty: “Creating new programming assignments and tutorials and ensuring that they work for all students with different constraints is non-trivial. Rohan has worked tirelessly on designing, tested, and releasing these assignments/tutorials. His efforts are useful for UCSB students and the broader networking community.”

From students: “So helpful for helping me figure out what was wrong with my code. Appreciate him so much for explaining concepts to me and clarifying the labs”

2021-22 Graduate Student External Awards

Sujaya Maiyya (Advisors: Divy Agrawal & Amr El Abbadi)

Sujaya was selected as one of 150 women nationwide invited to the 2021 Rising Stars in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Workshop and hosted by MIT. 

Shlomi Steinberg (Advisor: Lingqi Yan)

Yuke Wang (Advisor: Yufei Ding)

Shlomi and Yuke were independently selected as one of 10 recipients globally of the NVIDIA Fellowship to support research that could lead to major advances in accelerated computing and its applications.

Ishtiyaque Ahmad (Advisors: Divy Agrawal & Amr El Abbadi)

Ishtiyaque was selected as one of 18 recipients globally of the IBM Fellowship, presented to exemplary students to acknowledge their contributions & provide funding for their research.

Sanjay Chandrasekaran (Advisor: Arpit Gupta)

Sanjay was selected as one of 3 recipients globally of the M-Lab (open Internet measurement lab led by teams at Google and Code for Society & Sciences) Research Fellowship. 

Sharon Levy (Advisor: William Wang)

Sharon was selected as an Amazon Fellowship recipient for her research in Natural Language Processing exploring problems relating to fairness in NLP and the spread of misinformation. 

Congratulations to all!