Graduate students win ISR and ECE awards

ISR Awards

On Sept. 19, the Institute for Systems Research presented four deserving graduate students with its George Harhalakas Outstanding Graduate Student Award.

Sajani Vithana, advised by Professor and ECE Chair Sennur Ulukus, works in designing networks that require privacy and security for operation. Broadly, she has research interests in information privacy for health care systems, financial systems and social networking systems. Dr. Ulukus writes that Vithana “has the potential to make significant theoretical and practical impacts at the cutting-edge of research in information privacy today. She has been making some of the most important and innovative contributions in this field.” Vithana has a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka.

Priyanka Kaswan, advised by Professor and ECE Chair Sennur Ulukus, is specializing in information timeliness, and the design of modern networks that require it to operate. Ulukus writes, “with the advent of 6G communications, timeliness is expected to be a key design metric in future networks, replacing or augmenting traditional network design metrics of throughput and delay. Timeliness is critical for applications of 6G, such as in autonomous vehicular networks, smart factory environments with human-robot collaborative systems, AR/VR/XR devices in future classrooms, and dense sensor networks for environmental monitoring.” Kaswan has a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi.

Nilesh Suriyarachchi successfully defended his dissertation and graduated with his Ph.D. in May 2023. He was advised by Distinguished University Professor John Baras. Dr. Baras wrote that Suriyarachchi focused on “cooperative multi-agent sensing, planning and control for connected autonomous vehicles, which is receiving increased attention because of the rapidly emerging and evolving technologies of autonomous vehicles.” Suriyarachchi has an outstanding publication record and has won several important awards. His recent research on cooperative highway merging for heterogeneous traffic received the Best Student Paper award at ITSC 21, the premier IEEE conference for Intelligent Transportation Systems.

Behrad Soleimani was an ECE student advised by Associate Professor Behtash Babadi who worked closely with Professor Jonathan Simon and was a teaching assistant for Professor Nuno Martins. The award was bestowed on him posthumously after his recent death.  Each of his faculty mentors thought very highly of him; his passing has affected not only his own family, but many faculty, students and staff at the Clark School of Engineering. Soleimani was first author on a number of important brain connectivity papers, such as “Altered directional functional connectivity underlies post-stroke cognitive recovery,” published this year in Brain Communications, and “NLGC: Network Localized Granger Causality with Application to MEG Directional Functional Connectivity Analysis,” published in NeuroImage in 2022. He won the ECE TA Award and the Three-Minute Thesis Award, and at the time of his death was on the cusp of completing his degree.

ECE Awards

In addition to the ISR awards, several ISR students won Electrical and Computer Engineering Department awards on Sept. 20. They are:

Sydney Overton, George Corcoran Memorial Award for a Graduate Student. This award is presented to graduate teaching assistants in recognition of excellence in teaching. Sydney is advised by Professor Reza Ghodssi.

JinJing Han, ECE Distinguished Dissertation Award. Han is advised by Professor Reza Ghodssi. His dissertation is titled, Minimally Invasive Neurochemical Sensing System for Ex Vivo And In Vivo Investigation of Serotonergic Modulation.

Shoutik Mukherjee, ECE Distinguished Dissertation Award. Mukherjee is advised by Associate Professor Behtash Babadi. His dissertation is titled, Statistical Models of Neural Computations and Network Interactions in High-Dimensional Neural Data.

Nilesh Suriyarachchi, ECE Distinguished Dissertation Award. As mentioned previously, Suriyarachchi is advised by Professor John Baras. His dissertation is titled, Cooperative Multi-agent Sensing, Planning, and Control for Connected Autonomous Vehicles.

Sajani Vithana, ECE Distinguished Dissertation Award. As mentioned previously, Vithana is advised by Professor Sennur Ulukus. Her dissertation is titled, Achieving Information-Theoretic Privacy in Distributed Learning: Private Read-Update-Write (PRUW).

Published September 21, 2023