Three Computer Science PhD Students Receive Catacosinos Fellowship Awards

Three Computer Science PhD Students Receive Catacosinos Fellowship Awards

In recognition of their passion and academic excellence, three PhD students in the computer science (CS) department were recognized with Catacosinos Fellowships for Excellence in Computer Science.

​After a thorough selection process, the fellowships were awarded to graduate students Chia-Che Tsai, Andrii Soviak, and Chien-Chun Ni. In addition to receiving recognition, the winners received $5,000 from the Catacosinos Fellowship Fund.

 “The Catacosinos award recognizes the students’ extraordinary accomplishments in furthering computer science,” stated I.V. Ramakrishnan, Graduate Director of Computer Science at Stony Brook University and chair of the selection committee. Ramakrishnan continued, “Chia-Che has conducted extraordinary research in several aspects of computer systems.  Andrii Soviak has established himself as a top researcher in the area of accessibility, a topic that is concerned with how to make computers usable by people with physical challenges with a focus on visual impairment. Chien-Chun has made stellar contributions to the algorithmic aspects of computer networking. All have presented publications at top tier conferences.”

About the Fellowship Awardees

Chia-che Tsai ​Chia-Che Tsai is expected to receive his PhD in 2017. His research focus is primarily on operating systems designs and principles including performance, security, compatibility, and architectural support.

“I study the design of operating systems, such as Windows and Mac OSX. An operating system is a piece of sophisticated software; despite its maturity, new challenges still emerge when facing new requirements like security, privacy, and faster computer hardware,” explained Tsai.

Tsai has eight publications and his recent one, A Study of Modern Linux API Usage and Compatibility: What to Support When You’re Supporting, which was a collaboration with Bhushan Jain, Nafees Ahmed Abdul, and his advisor Dr. Donald E. Porter, received the 2016 BEST PAPER Award by the European Conference on Computer Systems. In 2015, Tsai won the Division Recognition Award (Q1 2015) in Intel Lab, for his extraordinary contributions of enabling Linux applications on Intel SGX platform during internship.  In addition to his publications, awards, and open-source project contribution, Tsai has been heavily involved in community service in the field of computer science.

Tsai says, “This fellowship certainly means a lot--as I try my best to reach out to my fellow researchers and make every effort possible to help the community. Scientists make greater progress through collaboration. With this fellowship, I will primarily use the funds to visit institutions, to exchange knowledge and insight with researchers. The fellowship will also support my effort of bringing research prototypes to production quality so that they can benefit corporations and ordinary users.”

As Andrii Soviak is earning his PhD, he works part time for Charmtech Labs as chief technology officer, chief web developer, and principal software engineer. He also works at Stony Brook University in the CS department as a research assistant. Soviak’s area of research and contributions are related to screen readers for people with vision impairments. Soviak’s doctoral research is about creating a way for the visually impaired to understand the structure of a webpage and to be able to navigate the web by making it tactile.

Soviak shared, “I am honored to be a recipient of the Catacosinos Fellowship because it validates the importance of the problem I’m working as well as recognizes my hard work towards a solution.” He also shared that his favorite project is FeelX: Haptic Glove. “It is a universal device developed for blind and low vision people that enable them to perform tasks on the web in a similar way the sighted people. I aspire to make at least a small step toward equality and sustainable development.”

Chien-Chun Ni ​Chien-Chun Ni’s research interests are algorithm, computational geometry, and complex network analysis. The research topic for his PhD is discrete curvature and network routing, under his advisor Dr. Jie Gao. Gao explained, “Chien-Chun’s work is rooted in computational geometry and topology and applied to problems from distributed wireless networks. This theme can be found in his work on sensing trajectories of different topological types, in developing lightweight efficient routing algorithms that are load balanced, and in understanding the curvature of the Internet.”

The work Ricci Curvature on Internet Topology is Ni’s most important project. Ni explained, “This work brings the geometric property of “curvature” to discrete graph setting. This gives us a brand new angle for discrete graph. By curvature, we are able to rank the importance of edges, tell the similarity of nodes or even graph.”

Ni has several publications and awards and he has made many presentations. His most recent one, in 2016 at INFOCOM in San Francisco, won the Best-in-Session Presentation award.  Ni’s future aspiration relates to Ricci Curvature. “I am planning to finish my thesis, graduate and find a job where I can work further on my research.”

All three PhD students are honored and humbled to receive this award and to be recognized for their hard work. They are thankful for their supportive advisors as well as lab mates for their encouragement and enlightenment. The department is equally as proud of the recipients’ outstanding contributions to computer science.

About the Fellowship

The Catacosinos family, by whom the fellowship was established, originally provided the CS Department with an endowment in 1978. The family’s support has had a lasting impact on the University. Beyond the fellowship, two additional endowed funds established by the Catacosinos family have supported cancer research and strategic initiatives by the President. In 2014, Richard Z. Lin, MD, from the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, received a Catacosinos Translational Researcher Award for his work on pancreatic cancer, and the College of Business has received vital funds toward a new laboratory for its students.