CS News Briefs

Read the latest news briefs from and about students and faculty in the UVA Computer Science Department.

    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Chairperson/Research Award Winner: Soukarya Ghosh

    May 13, 2020

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    About Soukarya:

    I am a rising fourth year Computer Science and Mathematics double major. Academically, I find theoretical aspects of the subjects I study very interesting. I always aspire to understand processes from the ground up and stay versatile in my field. Growing up, I have always been taught to give back to my community and work to help those who are not as fortunate. With all the experiences and knowledge I have gathered and continue to gather here at UVA, I believe I am more prepared to tackle this task than I have ever been.

    What has Soukarya kept motivated:

    This pandemic has been an unusual experience to say the least. Being removed from the engrossing environment of grounds, keeping up academic motivation has been tough. I have found myself working countless hours working on TrackCorona, improving user experience and making the data set more comprehensive. The leading motivation in this venture has been the support and response from our user base. We get emails everyday from around the world praising us for our efforts and encouraging us to keep going. Seeing the impact we have had on research studies, other informative platforms, and just the general population has been astounding.

    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Chairperson/Research and Teaching Award Winner: Virginia Layne Berry

    May 13, 2020

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    Layne received both the Louis T. Rader Chairperson/Research and Teaching awards!

    About Layne:

    I'm a rising fourth year hoping to enter a PhD program in Natural Language Processing after graduation to combine my love of both computer science and linguistics. I make time to cook and to knit, and am fostering an adorable kitten named Honey Bunches of Oats. I have a little brother studying theater at Northwestern who I couldn't be more proud of. Apart from my majors, I'm entering my sixth semester of Classical Sanskrit this Fall.

    What has kept Layne motivated:

    I've found it's important to stay on a schedule, and to move between zones of the house over the course of the day. I never relax in the room I work in or work in the room I sleep in, so that waking up early and sitting down at a desk with a cup of coffee will automatically put me in the right headspace to work.


    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Service Award Winner: Jake Smith

    May 13, 2020

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    About Jake:

    I am a 4th year Engineering student and Rodman Scholar studying Computer Science and Cybersecurity. I helped found the National Security, Intelligence, and Defense (NSID) Club on-grounds and have served as President of the Computer and Network Security (CNS) Club at UVA. In addition, I co-started UVA’s Cyber Defense and Offense Teams to compete in the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) and Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC). Outside of school, I co-founded MetaCTF, a cybersecurity training company, and co-taught a class on Underwater Basket Weaving.

    What has kept Jake motivated:

    The switch to virtual classes this semester has definitely changed a lot of things. One unexpected benefit of all of the craziness though is that I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot more time with my family before starting my full-time job next month. Additionally, I’ve enjoyed spending my extra time conducting security research, preparing for our (virtual) cybersecurity competitions, and working on personal projects. While I certainly miss Grounds, I’m also taking this time to relax and catch up on sleep!

    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Service Award Winner: Madison Flynn

    May 13, 2020

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    About Madison:

    I am a 3rd year Computer Science major. I also TA for CS 2150 and CS 4102. I am also the new President for WiCS (Women in Computing Sciences which is also known as ACM-W). Additionally, every year I help out with middle and high school visitation for SWE (Society of Women Engineers). I really enjoy teaching CS skills to younger students and am very passionate about bridging the gender gap in technology careers. I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't gotten involved with the CS department and CS organizations here at UVA. I definitely wouldn't have gotten the internship of my dreams last summer at Microsoft. I'm very grateful that UVA and the CS department has given me a platform to pursue my dreams and passions. Also, some fun facts about me are that I have a twin who is basically my opposite, and my first time seeing snow was here at UVA!

    What has kept Madison motivated:

    I have been staying motivated by my drive to learn new things, learning to cook new recipes, and looking forward to the project that I will be working on this summer during my virtual internship!

    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Service Award Winner: Sanjana Hajela

    May 13, 2020

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    About Sanjana:

    I really enjoy exploring different fields of CS and engineering and I am happy I got to take a wide variety of classes in UVA these past four years. Besides school, my hobbies include reading, doing stuff outdoors, exercising, and playing games.

    What has kept Sanjana motivated:

    Something that definitely motivated me during the pandemic is my daily long walks in the evening! I made sure that I would finish all of my schoolwork and stay focused so I could reward myself with a nice, long, safe outing. I am also really inspired when I watch "Some Good News" by John Krasinksi, he posts motivational videos every week highlighting the positive things people have been doing during the pandemic.

    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Alex Lehmann

    May 13, 2020

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    About Alex, Computer Science Major:

    I love TAing for algorithms and hope to pursue a professorship in computer science one day. In my free time, I play board games, and go hiking in the Shenandoah National Park.

    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Cameron Lloyd

    May 13, 2020

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    About Cameron:

    I am a Computer Science student in the engineering school class of 2020. I enjoyed being a teaching assistant for a variety of computer science courses, including CS 2150 (Program and Data Representation), CS 4102 (Algorithms), CS 3102 (Theory of Computation), and CS 4501 (Markets, Mechanisms, and Machines). While I certainly can’t choose a single favorite, TA’ing these classes allowed me to revisit the material and engage with it in a way that furthered the understanding I had as a student in each class. As a student in each class, I appreciated having office hours as a resource to help with homework and better grasp the concepts. I wanted to be able to provide the encouragement and support to students, and hope I was able to do so while making office hours and review sessions fun and engaging. My favorite classes at UVa were Internet Scale Applications, Markets Mechanisms, and Machines (MMM), Cloud Computing, and Algorithms. I love to build web and mobile applications (especially iOS) and hope to do so in my career!

    Outside of my coursework, I enjoyed going on hiking and mountain biking adventures with Outdoors Club, and racing cross country and track races with Club Running! After graduation, I will be joining Microsoft as a Software Engineer for iOS applications.

    What has kept Cameron motivated:

    Recently, I’ve tried to mix in new hobbies to my day as motivation to get my work done. Watercolor painting has been a rewarding outlet and I hope to do more over the summer! Additionally, Reframing success and productivity in terms of what I am able to do now instead of what I was able to do previously has also helped relieve anxieties and encourage me to try my best.

    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Jason Ashley

    May 13, 2020

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    About Jason

    I am a third year studying both Computer Science and Computer Engineering. If I had to choose a subject within those fields, I would say I am interested in cybersecurity and am working on projects exploring that to varying degrees in embedded devices.

    I tinker with any piece of software or hardware at my fingertips, very often too much for my own good, leading to breaking some of these things. This is not necessarily a problem, it just creates a new challenge: how do I fix what I broke? My next project is really building some software for a watch that has been wiped clean. We'll say that was done intentionally.

    When not working with anything like this, I enjoy all kinds of movies (though there is definitely a tendency towards sci-fi) and sharing those movies with others. When not holed up at home, you can find me at live music events all around town or, if nothing else is going on, just exploring Charlottesville.

    What has kept Jason motivated:

    Surprisingly, I have started getting a little more organized, specifically by actually putting up a dry erase board I've had sitting around for a while and updating it daily. I believe this has helped keep me at least somewhat on track for some of my classes and other projects I have going on at any given point. I've also been trying to stay in contact with as many people as I can through voice, video, or just text chats on a regular basis. As the semester ends and I begin remote work for the summer, I am also planning out several projects I can do in the evenings or during the weekends to learn new things or expand on some ideas I've seen in classes.

    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Mike Ferguson

    May 13, 2020

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    About Mike:

    I am a rising fourth year with a passion for exploring the frontiers of science. I created a student taught class, CS 1501: Artificial General Intelligence, completely by scratch and turned it into a highly successful and rewarding lecture series. The course looks at the intersection of cognitive science, AI, and philosophy, while covering concepts of minds, brains, superintelligence, and what it means to be human.

    I enjoy working out, guitar, writing, political activism, and reading literature, as well as well being a "Book a Week Challenge" participant for 2 years, totaling over 100 books. I plan to move to Stockholm, Sweden after graduation to work as a machine learning engineer and travel Europe, in order to experience all that I can. Afterwards, I hope to attend graduate school for a computer science Ph.D. to further research cognitive architectures and artificial general intelligence. I have an adopted Border Collie, Shadow, my best bud whom I love very much, along with my girlfriend and life partner, Kendall.

    What has kept Mike motivated:

    What inspires me is a hard question to answer. I would say it is the drive to leave humanity better then I found it, the pursuit of unknown frontiers of science though AGI research, and the pursuit of a fulfilling life and a lasting legacy. I try to find happiness in small things, from cooking something I cannot pronounce, looking at the incredible intricacy of a honeybee, or simply laying in the grass with my dog. I have realized life is short, and that it is way too short to worry about GPA or status. Our humanity and gift of consciousness is what unites us all, and that is something we should not forget- especially in these times. I keep asking myself the big questions of life, and maybe, just maybe, I will eventually find an answer. This searching for knowledge is an incredibly humbling and profound endeavor, and what I would say is my primary motivation and source of meaning.

    “The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.” ― Frank Herbert, Dune

    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Nadia Aisha Hassan

    May 13, 2020

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    About Nadia:

    My name is Nadia Hassan, and I’m a 3rd year in the Engineering School. I’m from Richmond, VA but I lived in Michigan for over 10 years. Two fun facts about me are I’m a Bangladeshi-American, and I'm a makeup artist and a graffiti artist!

    When it comes to my academic interests, I am currently the Head TA of CS 1112 taught by Professor Jim Cohoon, and I've had so much fun TAing this course for the past four semesters. I didn't have experience with CS coming into UVA, and I had initially failed my first CS exam. I didn't want to let my first failure discourage me from pursuing CS, so I saw it as an opportunity to work harder to learn CS throughout the years and build my confidence and potential in my field. I don't believe that grades define any student's success in a field, and I always encourage my friends and students I TA for to pursue their individual passions so that they also feel confident in themselves and content with what they choose. Now, I've reached a point where my TA position, my courses, and my first internship as a developer solidified my love for web application development and my goal of becoming a full-stack developer. I believe there is no limit to what I can do with my major, so I'm so excited for the opportunities in the future!

    What has kept Nadia motivated:

    During this pandemic, I believe that mental health is my top priority so that I can be motivated to succeed academically and personally. This time is very rare and stressful, and it impacts everyone differently. It's important to take a breath and validate my feelings and stress by reminding myself that it’s okay to be feeling everything I'm feeling. I believe that giving myself breaks and reminding my friends and family to take care of themselves both physically and mentally are important, and I feel grateful for being able to reach out and connect to them more. I'm continuously inspired by my parents, Shamima Deeba and Mohammed Khaled Hassan, and my best friends Sara, Sanjidah, Maha, and Trena to be optimistic, spiritually grounded, and to lift others up during this time as well.