News about Faculty, Researchers, Students, and Staff (Winter/Spring 2015)

Faculty News


Professor Andrew McCallum was an invited speaker at the 2014 Workshop on Automated Knowledge Base Construction (AKBC). He and co-authors received Outstanding Paper Awards at AKBC 2014 for their papers "Knowledge Base Completion using Compositional Vector Space Models," by Arvind Neelakantan, Benjamin Roth and McCallum, and "Domain Specific Knowledge Base Construction via Crowdsourcing," by Ari Kobren, Thomas Logan, Siddharth Sampangi, and McCallum.

Four CS faculty received Google awards recently. Professor Andrew McCallum received a research grant from Google for his machine learning research. Professor James Allan received a 2014 Google Faculty Research Award for the project "Seeking Controversial Topics and Stances." Assistant Professor Arjun Guha received a 2014 Google Faculty Research Award for the project "Debugging and Upgrading Puppet Manifests." Assistant Professor Amir Houmansadr received a 2015 Google Faculty Research Award for his work in privacy.   

Assistant Professor Subhransu Maji, with co-authors Catherine Wah and Serge Belongie, received the Best Paper Award of the Vision and Learning Session of the 2015 IEEE Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision (WACV 2015) for "Learning Localized Perceptual Similarity Metrics for Interactive Categorization."

Professor Emery Berger and doctoral student Emma Tosch received the ACM OOPSLA (Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages & Applications) 2014 Best Paper Award for "SurveyMan: Programming and Automatically Debugging Surveys."  In December, Berger gave a Distinguished Lecture at the University of California, San Diego on "Programming Languages for the Sciences." He presented details on SurveyMan and CheckCell, two software systems developed by his research group. CheckCell, a system which reveals data and methodological errors in spreadsheets, was listed as one of "10 cool network and computing research projects" in Networkworld.com.

Two papers written by Professor Prashant Shenoy and co-authors received Best Paper Runner Up at the 2014 ACM International Conference on Embedded Systems for Energy-efficient Buildings (BuildSys 2014). "PowerPlay: Creating Virtual Power Meters through Online Load Tracking in Smart Homes" was authored by S. Barker, S. Kalra, D. Irwin, and Shenoy.  "Minimizing Electricity Costs by Sharing Energy in Sustainable Microgrids" was authored by Z. Huang, J. Su, T. Zhu, A. Sharma, A. Ambegaonkar, Y. Gu, A. Mishra, D. Irwin, and Shenoy.

Professor Hava Siegelmann was reelected to the board of the International Neural Network Society.

Associate Professor Ramesh Sitaraman published a new book, Advanced Content Delivery, Streaming, and Cloud Services, in the Wiley Series on Parallel and Distributed Computing Series.

Professor Shlomo Zilberstein is serving as Chair of the Conference Committee of AAAI.  He is also Program Co-Chair of ICAPS'15 (International Conference of Automated Planning and Scheduling), which will take place in Jerusalem in June 2015. Zilberstein is also on the Selection Committee of the IFAAMAS Victor Lesser Distinguished Dissertation Award, given annually by the International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems.

Assistant Professor Hannah Wallach was selected as one of Glamour magazine's top new women leaders in technology. She was highlighted as one of "35 Women Under 35 Who are Changing the Tech Industry." Wallach was also featured as one of 15 profiled women in the new book, Women in Data: Cutting-Edge Practitioners and Their Views on Critical Skills, Background, and Education, published by O'Reilly.

Professor Emeritus and Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) PI Rick Adrion is serving on the panel that is developing voluntary Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards for the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN). The panel expects to have a draft prepared for review by June of this year. Adrion was also appointed to the Technology Talent Initiative Advisory Committee for the Mass. Dept. of Higher Education.

Adjunct Professor Hong Yu received the F1000 Poster Award at the 22nd Annual International Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB), the official conference of the International Society of Computational Biology. The poster, selected from nearly 600 presented at the conference, reported on figure searching in the biomedical literature research. This fall, Yu was awarded two National Institutes of Health research grants for "EMR Adverse Drug Event Detection for Pharmacovigilance" and "EHR Anticoagulants Pharmacovigilance."

Researcher News


Working with the VISION Lab, Pia Bideau is a Visiting Scholar from Ruhr-Universitat Bochum, Germany.

Shangsong Liang is a Visiting Researcher from the University of Amsterdam who is working with the CIIR.

Student News

Zachery May, an undergrad majoring in computer science and journalism, was chosen as a recipient of the 2014-2015 Gerald F. Scanlon Student Employee of the Year Award. The award recognizes and honors students who have demonstrated outstanding performance by contributing their time and/or skill to help the University achieve its goals and objectives. May, who will be graduating this spring, is an essential member of the computer science main office staff, where he began working in March, 2012. May has also been on the Computer Science Recruiting and Outreach Committee (ROCks) since its inception in the fall of 2012. He is one of only ten students selected from a large pool of very qualified applicants across campus for this year's Scanlon award.

Rachel Gordon was selected for honorable mention for the Computing Research Association's (CRA) 2015 Outstanding Undergraduate Female Researcher Award. Gordon has worked with Professors Rick Adrion and David Jensen. Her honors thesis is on evaluating algorithms for learning causal models. Award Details

Doctoral student Jennie Steshenko, Visiting Scientist Vasanta Chaganti, and Distinguished Professor Jim Kurose received the Best Poster/Demo award at the 2014 ACM MSWiM (Modeling, Analysis and Simulation of Wireless and Mobile Systems) Conference in Montreal Canada.

Graduate students Pengyu Zhang, Pan Hu, and Vijay Pasikanti and Associate Professor Deepak Ganesan received Best Paper Runner Up at the 2014 ACM International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (Mobicon) for "EkhoNet: High Speed Ultra Low-power Backscatter for Next Generation Sensors."

Graduate student Misha Badov and co-authors Distinguished Professor Jim Kurose, CS alums Anand Seetharam (PhD. '14) and Victor Firoui (Ph.D. '98), and Soumendra Nanda of BAE Systems received the Runner Up Best Paper Award at the first ACM Information-Centric Networks Conference in Paris, France.

The paper "Doppio: Breaking the Browser Language Barrier," by doctoral student John Vilk and Professor Emery Berger was awarded a SIGPLAN Research Highlight, one of two papers selected across the entire area of programming language research.

The Commonwealth Honors College chose undergraduates Tung Pham and Ryan Szeto to receive Honors Research Grants, and Nikhil Garg and Freddy Nguyen were chosen to receive Research Assistant Fellowships. For their Honors College projects, Garg was advised by Deepak Ganesan, Nguyen was advised by Tim Richards, and Pham and Szeto were advised by Rick Adrion.

CS graduate student Rufina Chettiar and UMass SmartMPL teammates, Divyashri Bhat and Abhishek Dwaraki (both ECE) won first prize in the Juniper Networks/Comcast Northeast Division Hackathon Software Defined Networking (SDN) Workshop and Competition held in November. For the competition, the team worked on building an efficient content transport and monitoring system for a constrained legacy network provided by Juniper's OpenLab.

Three UMass Amherst Computer Science teams placed in the top five of the Northeast Regional Preliminary Contest of the 2014/2015 ACM International Collegiate Programming Competition. The second place team, "The Wrath of Khanh," consisted of Kaleigh Clary, Ishan Durugkar, and Khanh Nguyen. The team advanced to the Northeast North America Finals, held at Rochester Institute of Technology, where they placed fifth. Associate Professor Erik Learned-Miller coached the UMass Amherst CS teams.

In 2014, CS undergraduate Dhonovan Hauserman received the U.S. Congressional Award Gold Medal from Congress for dedicating hundreds of hours to Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness and an Expedition. The Congressional Award Gold Medal is the highest award bestowed by the United States Congress to civilian youth under the age of 23.

Staff News


Thomas Logan joined IESL as a Software Engineer.

As co-PI of the ECEP Alliance, Renee Fall moderated a panel on State-level Computing Education Reform for Diversity at the Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing in Boston in February. Along with Professor Emeritus Rick Adrion, she led the volunteer committee for the conference. Fall was also invited by the Commissioner of Higher Education to be part of the Massachusetts Technology Talent Initiative Advisory Committee, to guide implementation of recommendations for workforce development.