Seven students from the University of Florida Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) were the recipients of the Outstanding Achievement Award from the UF International Center. The winners – Kiana Alikhademi, Mahsan Nourani, Meghana Reddy Voladri, Subodha Charles, Tianwei Xie, Wins Goyal and Yue Wang – were among 15 students from the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering to receive the award.
The International Student Achievement Awards Ceremony was initiated to highlight the accomplishments of international students at the University of Florida. The awards recognize outstanding contributions of international students to promote and foster continued involvement and outstanding achievement in the college, university, and community.
Alikhademi, who is originally from Tehran, Iran, is a Ph.D. student in the Human-Experience Research Lab and is advised by Juan E. Gilbert, Ph.D. Her research focuses on applied machine learning and using machine learning and algorithmic fairness to make a societal impact. In particular, she is passionate about creating tools to support both practitioner and end-user interaction with machine learning systems.
“As an international student, I faced many challenges while pursuing my degree. Lack of emotional and financial support put more pressure on me,” Alikhademi said. “Receiving this award gives me the feeling that I was able to manage these tough situations. It confirms that I am on the right track to reach my goal and acquire my advanced degree.”
Nourani, whose home country is Iran, is a Ph.D. student in the Interactive Data and Immersive Environments Research Lab and is advised by Eric Ragan, Ph.D. Her research areas include human-centered AI, explainable AI, and visual analytics. She works to learn how humans interact with and understand computer systems, specifically those powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“Receiving the outstanding achievements award during the pandemic helped boost my motivations toward my research efforts and reminded me that working hard pays off,” Nourani said. “I am proud and honored to serve the community as a female researcher and a Gator. I feel so grateful to have received this award, and I appreciate the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and UF for acknowledging me and my work among the others.”
Meghana Reddy Voladri
Voladri, who graduated in December 2020 and is from India, was pursuing her master’s degree in computer science with her studies focusing on machine learning. Voladri is a 2019 Glenn and Deborah Renwick Engineering Scholarship recipient and was advised by Kejun Huang, Ph.D., as she conducted research in machine learning. Voladri plans to work at Salesforce as a Member of Technical Staff as of January 2021.
“I’m humbled to receive the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ for the year 2020,” she said. “I would like to thank Dr. Kejun Huang for the constant support and guidance, my family and friends who have always been there for me.”
Charles, who is from Sri Lanka, is a Ph.D. student whose research focuses on energy-aware computing and network-on-chip. He is advised by Prabhat Mishra, Ph.D., and is part of the Embedded Systems Lab.
“I feel honored to have received this award among the high caliber international students at UF,” he said.
Xie, who is from China, is pursuing her bachelor’s degree and majoring in computer science with a minor in accounting. She is most interested in researching cloud and Edge computing and cybersecurity. Xie is currently a research assistant at the UF Innovation Institute and was part of a team that recently proposed plans for programs (Makerspace Program and Mentorship Program) to foster innovative thinking in engineers at UF.
“I’m really happy to receive this award and was actually quite surprised when I got the email,” Xie said.
Goyal, who is from India, is pursuing his master’s degree in computer science and is focusing his research on deep learning, autonomous systems, and distributed cloud systems. During the Summer of 2020, he was a part-time graduate student researcher in the ACIS Lab and is currently a research assistant at the Florida Institute for Cybersecurity Research (FICS) in the lab of in Kevin R.B. Butler, Ph.D., the associate professor and FICS associate director.
“It feels great to be recognized for one’s contributions and work, and I am honored to receive this award,” Goyal said. “This award also represents a faith that my parents and friends put in me to reach where I am today and motivates me to work consistently toward my goals.”
Goyal said the University is full of opportunities for students.
“One just needs a little guidance and hard work to get where they want to be,” he said. “I have been fortunate to be part of the UF’s research community and be able to volunteer and mentor students.”
Wang, who is from China, is pursuing her master’s degree in computer science. She is focusing her studies on software engineering.
“I’m very happy and feel that my effort and work have paid off,” she said. “This award also encourages me to work hard and be a better version of myself in the future. Thanks to UF, this is one of the best presents I’ve received in 2020.”
By Allison Logan
Marketing & Communications Specialist
Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering