CS Alum is now a Grace Hopper Fellow

Helen Xu, a Department of Computer Science (CS) alumna is making headlines this month after being named the newest Grace Hopper Fellow. In October 2022, Xu began her position as a Grace Hopper Fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

According to Berkeley, “this prestigious fellowship aims to develop young computer and computational scientists to make outstanding contributions to high-performance computing (HPC) applications.” 

Advised by CS professor Michael Bender while an undergrad at Stony Brook University (SBU), Xu’s research interests include parallel computing, cache-efficient algorithms, and performance engineering.

“In high school, I was really into debating, theater, and music. It wasn’t until I got to college that I thought I’d try computer science. One of my first projects was to create an efficient version of a data structure called a skip list, a probabilistic data structure built on the idea of a linked list, and it was just so elegant,” said Xu. “I fell in love with computer science.”

Xu also attributes her passion for computer science to her work with Bender which included a range of projects including theoretical data structure for sparse graphs. After graduating from SBU and earned a PhD from MIT CSAIL and her PhD thesis was on “The Locality-First Strategy for Developing Efficient Multicore Algorithms.”

She hopes to use her fellowship to “bridge the gap” between computer science theory and their real-life applications.

“Data structures underlie everything in computer science,” Xu explained. “If you’re developing an application, you have a bunch of elements you need to store; I work on effectively storing those elements so that you can compute them quickly.”

The CS department wishes Helen the best on this new west coast, post-doctoral adventure!


-Alissa Pabon

Photo Credit: Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences