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Congratulations to the IACS 2019 Junior Researcher Award Winners

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Written by Jessica Rojahn

August 21, 2019


The IACS Junior Researcher Award is an opportunity to highlight the incredible work of IACS graduate students across many disciplines. Following the example of the 2018 award winners, another eight students were selected as winners for 2019. This year, the winners’ research fields include quantum computing, artificial recurrent neural networks, algorithmic bias in machine learning, hurricane energetics, electronic structure calculations, microscopy brain images, Monte Carlo methods for complex Bayesian models, and language learning algorithms.


Twelve of the fifteen applicants were invited to move to round two of the competition, which required each student to give a short research presentation to the awards committee. Five of this year’s winners are first time recipients: Yanzhu Chen, Ian Jordan, Xiaoning Wu, Saeed Boor Boor, and Yousef El-Laham. Bhavya Ghai, Sebastian Dick, and Jonathan Rawski are return winners from last year. The departments represented by all eight winners are: Linguistics, Physics and Astronomy, Computer Science, Neuroscience and Behavior, Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, and Electrical and Computer Engineering. 


IACS Junior Researcher Award recipients are PhD students whose work is recognized as outstanding by our faculty. The award includes a stipend topper up to $34,000 and an extra $4,000 for travel and supplies. Winners of this award are able to demonstrate strong contributions to computational research through originality, innovations, application, and enthusiasm. 


Winners for 2019: 


YanzhuChen Yanzhu Chen (PHY) 

PI: Tzu-Chieh Wei

It is a great honor to receive the IACS junior researcher award! I am a physics student and my work focuses on quantum computing, its interplay with condensed matter physics, and quantum information science. It is exciting to see this field receiving a lot of attention and IACS getting involved in the frontier research in this field. The award will bring me more opportunities to communicate and collaborate with other departments and institutes outside Stony Brook. I am grateful for the support from IACS and help from my advisor.


IanJordan Ian Jordan (NEURO)

PI: Il Memming Park

I am extremely grateful to have been chosen as one of the award recipients. The additional resources provided by the IACS will, without a doubt, help in advancing my academic work. After graduating from the New Jersey Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering, I joined up with the computational neuroscience group, CATNIP lab, under the direction of Professor Il Memming Park. My research primarily deals with uncovering the underlying structure of artificial recurrent neural networks as dynamical systems and developing a mathematical framework for how these structures are used in the context of performing various computations. It is my belief that such theory will not only aid in future machine learning developments but insights from artificial networks should also help pinpoint what specific experiments to perform and narrow down a direction of study for biological networks.


BGhai Bhavya Ghai (CS)

PI: Klaus Mueller

I’m honored to win this prestigious award for the second consecutive year! Big thanks to IACS for believing in me & supporting my research. Such a reward will catalyze my research on tackling algorithmic bias for a more inclusive & equitable future. My research focuses on how humans and machines can work together to identify & mitigate social biases based on gender, race, etc. in machine learning algorithms. I am a PhD student at the Computer Science Department primarily interested in human-centered AI & social computing.


WuXiaoning Xiaoning Wu (SOMAS)

PI: Christopher Wolfe

I am excited to receive the IACS Jr. Researcher Award that supports my PhD thesis project on understanding hurricane energetics with simplified climate models. I am grateful for the help and guidance from my academic advisors Drs. Kevin Reed and Christopher Wolfe at SoMAS, and Dr. Scott Bachman at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Special thanks go to my friends across many disciplines at SBU, who challenge and inspire me with new perspectives. With the award that supports my research and travel, I look forward to advancing our understanding of hurricane-climate interactions that may contribute to managing the risk of disasters around the world.


SebastianDick Sebastian Dick (PHY)

PI: Marivi Fernandez-Serra

I am very grateful to receive another year of support by the IACS. After receiving my BSc in Physics from the University of Wurzburg in Germany and my MA from Stony Brook University, I joined Prof. Marivi Fernandez-Serra's group in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Stony Brook. My work focuses on electronic structure calculations from first-principles using Density Functional Theory (DFT), and how these methods can be improved with machine learning.  


SaeedBoorBoor Saeed Boor Boor (CS)

PI: Ari Kaufman

I am very grateful to the IACS Junior Researcher Award committee for this recognition. I am a PhD student at the Department of Computer Science with interests in scientific visualization, and augmented and virtual reality. Through this award, I aim to develop a framework for the registration, 3D reconstruction, feature exploration and visualization of neuronal structures from wide-field microscopy brain images. Ultimately, the goal of this work is to provide an end-to-end tool to the neuroscientists to aid them in their study of the complex connections that underline brain functioning and to better understand human brain diseases.


YousefElLaham Yousef El-Laham (Electrical Eng)

PI: Monica Bugallo

I am both honored and proud to be a recipient of this award. The core of my research lies at the intersection of the theory and application of computational methods for complex systems. In particular, I am interested in advancing the state of Monte Carlo methods for complex Bayesian models. A great deal of this effort relies on high-performance computing, so institutes like the IACS have been pivotal to my success as a researcher. As an award recipient, I hope to continue making research advances, while also forming connections and collaborations with other members of the IACS community. I would like to thank my advisor Dr. Mónica Bugallo for her unwavering support in my journey as a PhD student. I would also like to thank my other mentors/collaborators: Dr. Petar Djurić and Dr. Heather Lynch. Finally, I would like to thank the IACS for presenting me with this honor. 

JRawski Jonathan Rawski (LING)

PI: Jeffrey Heinz

I'm very honored to accept this award which has transformed my research and outreach abilities tremendously this past year. The project, on language learning algorithms with algebraically structured hypothesis spaces, is inherently multidisciplinary. This award provides substantial support to advance the work technically and to present this work to wider audiences at conferences and through collaboration trips. Thanks to the IACS committee and to my advisor, Jeff Heinz, for helping make this possible.