Undergraduate & Graduate Student Awards
(Galileo Circle Scholars, the University of Arizona's finest undergraduate and graduate science students, represent the tremendous breadth of research interests in the College of Science)
Galileo Circle Scholar: Shravan Aras
Shravan is a fifth year PhD student working on energy conservation for smartphones and portable devices. In his tenure in the Department he has worked with Dr. Gniady and with countless other partners around campus.
Galileo Circle Scholar: Morgan Henry
Morgan is a sophomore undergraduate student with a family history in the department - her dad received his PhD here. Morgan has been involved in the department from her first semester: serving on the program fee board, as a tutor, and a department ambassador.
Galileo Circle Scholar: Ian Koo Kane
Ian is a Tucson native and senior undergraduate student graduating in May. During his time in the department he studied abroad for a year at Gachon University in South Korea and has maintained a 4.0 major gpa.
Galileo Circle Scholar: Staci Smith
Staci is a first-year PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Lowenthal. Her research focuses on high performance computing. Ask anyone and they will tell you she strives for perfection in everything she does.
Galileo Circle Scholar: Jon Stephens
Jon is a first-year MS student under the supervision of Dr. Debray. Not only is Jon an outstanding researcher, he is also a great mentor to the undergraduate and graduate students he works with.
Galileo Circle Scholar: Sean Stephens
Sean is a senior undergraduate and soon to be employee of Dropbox. During his time in the department he worked with multiple faculty on multiple research projects, served as a section leader and SL coordinator, and always a resource for his peers.
Galileo Circle Scholar: Brian Zimmerman
Brian is a senior undergraduate student with a double degree in computer science and electrical and computer engineering and has maintained a 4.0 GPA. He serves as a tutoring coordinator in the department tutoring center and has been a leader in changes to improve the tutoring center.
Undergraduate Senior and Undergraduate Researcher: Sean Stephens
When considering these awards it was clear to the committee that Sean more than met the criteria of both awards. Sean’s contributions to the department stem across all categories - teaching, research, and service - and he does it all with modest aplomb. The faculty that have worked with him shared this, “Sean’s curiosity, intelligence, skill, and leadership are amazing.” “Sean is possible the most conscientious person I know and has the natural curiosity of a researcher. He is destined to be a star.”
Undergraduate Service Award: Jesse Bartels
Jesse serves as a section leader coordinator and is the webmaster of the CS website - a truly daunting and thankless position! He also works on research with Dr. Debray and is a continually positive force among his peers. Jesse is an invaluable member of the department and we are very excited he is moving into the Accelerated Master’s Program so we have him for a few more years!
Undergraduate Teaching Award: Abigail Dodd
Abigail is a senior undergraduate student with a double degree in German studies and computer science. Abigail is a natural teacher. She presents material in innovative ways and always comes prepared to section with interactive activities for the students to learn the material. Abigail has been a true asset to our undergraduate teaching support.
Graduate Student Teaching Award: Jixian Li
Jixian has TA’d for the department since August 2015 and, frankly, without his ability to TA in multiple classes we would have had difficulty staffing some courses. Jixian demonstrates a genuine interest in the students he TAs and is dedicated to helping them learn and succeed. His example is helping develop future TAs.
Graduate Student Research Award: Lee Savoie
Lee is a fourth-year PhD student under the supervision of Dr. David Lowenthal. His research topic is system-wide optimizations in high-performance computing (HPC) environments. Dr. Lowenthal notes, “Lee’s progress in our Ph.D program has been quite strong when looked at in a vacuum. When considering that he has four children and a (separate) three-quarters-time job—in addition to being a Phd student—it is rather remarkable. He works hard, generates novel ideas, and produces high-quality, clear manuscripts describing his work.” This year Lee was also named an ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Scholar, one of about 40 in Arizona.
Graduate Student Service Award: Wei He
Wei is a third-year PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Richard Snodgrass. Wei has been a model for the graduate students in her interest and willingness to serve the department. She has been actively involved in the graduate student recruitment process for the past two years - assisting the committee with student selection, communicating with prospective students, and participating in the graduate recruitment weekends. Her enthusiasm for the department has been a great addition to the recruitment process.
College of Science Staff Excellence Award: Tisha Saltzman
Tisha is the department business manager and must work with the faculty to ensure proposals are submitted on time, budgets are appropriately managed, and faculty are aware of the limitations they may have with respect to support hires. She has implemented processes to ensure faculty are aware of the budgets on a regular basis and that the department administration is aware of short-term and long-term considerations. Tisha has been a great addition to the staff.
Faculty Teaching Award: Lester McCann
Dr. McCann is well-known in the Department for his rigorous academic requirements and clear, yet high, expectations. Many students across several different classes commented on how much they liked Dr. McCann’s hybrid approach of partially-populated slides on which he wrote during lectures. Quoting from student comments: “Dr. McCann's guided notes is probably my favorite form of lecturing/notetaking that I have ever experienced in a class. It keeps not only myself but also the students around me engaged, which helps me stay focused and think more critically about the material.”
Faculty Research Award: Mihai Surdeanu
Dr. Surdeanu is the top-funded researcher in the department. His research involves systems that process and extract meaning from natural language texts.. He continues to apply for and receive grants from DARPA and recently from the Gate’s Foundation - no small task. He also mentors several students, undergraduates to PhDs, including students in Linguistics and the School of Information. Dr. Surdeanu sets the research bar high.
Faculty Service Award: David Lowenthal
Dr. Lowenthal has served as associate head for many years and tirelessly devotes to ensure the department is fulfilling its mission to provide quality education with quality instruction. He leads faculty recruiting efforts and spends countless hours contributing to graduate student recruiting as well. Not only does he devote his time to the department, he serves on college, university, and conference committees as well. This is in addition to the many hours he spends mentoring students. Dr. Lowenthal is a constant example of selfless service.
Faculty Mentor Award: Ravi Sethi
For this inaugural award, there is not better representative of mentorship than Dr. Ravi Sethi. Dr. Sethi has been with the department since 2014, and we are better for it. He has worked side-by-side faculty, staff, and students to improve the education of our students, the policies and processes of the department, and the overall environment we work in. Dr. Sethi always brings a positive, thoughtful, forward-thinking mentality to all of his interactions and his example is valued by all that work with him. Thank you, Dr. Sethi, for willingly and wholeheartedly devoting your time to this department and making such a positive impact on all of us!