Off to GHC17: Three PhD Candidates Earn Grace Hopper Scholarships

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC17) is perhaps the world’s largest computing event for women. But alas, what would this prestigious event be without a Stony Brook Seawolf in attendance?

Thanks to scholarships from the Anita Borg Institute, three doctoral candidates from the Department of Computer Science (CS) will be at GHC17 in October, representing Stony Brook University along with another eight students supported with department funding.

Mahsa Torkaman, Mina Abbasi Dinani and Laraib Iqbal Malik each earned a scholarship to attend the Orlando-based event taking place October 4 to October 6.

Torkaman, who hails from Iran, was recommended for the prestigious scholarship by her adviser, Professor Allen Tannenbaum.

“Mahsa excels as a teaching and research assistant at Stony Brook,” Dr. Tannenbaum said. “With her keen interest in the areas of medical imaging, computational biology, and bioinformatics, she will benefit greatly from the workshops and engagement activities at GHC.”

Torkaman came to Stony Brook in Fall 2014, determined to use the knowledge she learned while earning her BS in computer science at Amirkabir University of Technology, otherwise known as Tehran Polytechnic. Last summer, she was a research intern at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with working at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), Division of Imaging, Diagnostics and Software Reliability (DIDSR). Now, she will have the opportunity to attend this one-of-a-kind event.

“I am really looking forward to attending the career track, which provides forums for attendees to learn and interact on a wide variety of topics to help them advance in their careers,” Torkaman said. “In addition, the Student Opportunity Lab (SOL) seems interesting to me. SOL is an interactive session where I can seek personalized advice. It focuses on students and the practical techniques and tools that will help me to achieve my career goals.”

Abbasi Dinani, who is also from Iran, is in the midst of her second year as a Seawolf. Working with Assistant Professor Mike Ferdman, she began studying computer science after studying electrical engineering at Isfahan University of Technology.

With experience working as a R&D engineer and digital designer at Parto Tamas Novin, along with being a digital designer at Sarvnet Telecommunication Inc., Abbasi is ready for the Grace Hopper Open Source Day, a hackathon meant to develop different projects that can improve the world.

“I am interested in a workshop called, ‘What do Banksy and Microchips have in common?’” Abbasi Dinani said. “I should note that Banksy is a street artist, who is famous worldwide for his graffiti art. I am a fan of both of them: Banksy and Microchips! GHC for me is more about hearing valuable experiences rather than source of inspiration because I think I am already inspired to pursue my goals in technology.”

Malik came to Stony Brook in January 2014 after studying computer science at Pakistan’s Lahore University of Management Sciences. In August, she, along with Rob Patro, an assistant professor at Stony Brook, co-authored Rich Chromatin Structure Prediction from Hi-C Data, which was accepted in the 8th ACM International Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Health Informatics. At the conference, she received the award for best paper.

The opportunity to participate in the GHC is one Malik is extremely thankful for. Not only is she thrilled to have the opportunity to network in academia, but she is ready to absorb as much information as she can.

“I’m looking forward to the keynotes; the featured speakers this year round are amazing women who, I believe, everyone looks up to,” she explained. “Being a senior student now, the session on 'Building an Academic Professional Network' is one I hope to learn the most from. And of course, the final celebration dinner. I've heard so much about how grand it is every year!”

These three amazing individuals will strongly represent Stony Brook University’s women of computer science when they arrive in Orlando.

Last year, the Grace Hopper Celebration was held in Houston, with 15,000 people in attendance, including Stony Brook students Varsha Venkatesh, Vithiya Muthukumar, Anju Khatri, Fahimeh Mirhaj, Shebuti Rayana, Shachee Mishra, Veronica Lynn and Ievgeniia Gutenko


Writer - Joseph Wolkin

Photo credit - @SIOBHANSPIX