Students Recognized for Excellence During Reception for DSI Graduates

During a reception for 144 graduates of the master’s program at DSI, students were recognized for academic achievement, leadership and teaching-assistance excellence.  

The Patricia J. Culligan Academic Achievement Award went to Aditya Huddedar, a DSI graduate who works as an Algorithmic Trader at Tower Research Capital. Two students – Yigang Jack Wang and Aakanksha Joshi – were given Data Science Institute Student Leadership Awards. All three earned their master’s degrees in February 2019.

Four students were also given Excellence in Course Assistantship Awards: Ghazal Fazelnia, who assisted in teaching Machine Learning for Data Science; Midhun Gundapuneni, for assisting with the course Algorithms for Data Science; Ameya Karnad, for assisting with Applied Data Science; and Yunhao Tang, for assisting with Machine Learning with Probabilistic Programming.


Eleni Drinea, a lecturer in discipline of computer science who earlier this year received the Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award, distributed the awards to the four, whose brief bios are below.


Ghazal Fazelnia is a doctoral candidate in the Electrical Engineering Department, where she’s advised by Professor John Paisley. Her research is mainly focused on developing probabilistic models that are interpretable and expressive for highly complex data sets as well as designing optimization techniques and inference algorithms for large scale inference. “Ghazal’s adviser considers her outstanding and instrumental in the success of his classes,” said Drinea, “and her students speak very highly of her commitment to teaching.”

Midhun Gundapuneni graduated from the DSI master’s program in December of 2018 and recently joined Google on the West Coast as a software engineer for Google Cloud. “Midhun has a long list of achievements as a Course Assistant, said Drinea, but I will just mention that in 12 months he CAed four times, which is possibly unprecedented for a master’s student! He was a Course Assistant twice for Analysis of Algorithms, and twice for Algorithms for Data Science, and exceeded my high expectations each time.”

Ameya Karnad is a current master’s student at DSI interested in the applications of data science in social sciences, public policy, political science and education. Ameya counts teaching as one of his passions. “Ameya was a Course Assistant for Applied Data Science this spring, where he played an outsized role in supporting a very large class,” Drinea said.   


Yunhao Tang is a doctoral student with Professor Shipra Agrawal in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. His research focuses on reinforcement learning and its exciting applications. “Yunhao was a teaching assistant for Machine Learning with Probabilistic Programming, one of DSI’s popular elective courses,” Drinea said. “Among his other contributions, his guidance of the students through their projects was highly effective.”  

“Faculty and students are grateful to all the award winners, and to every student who CAed for a DSI class,” said Drinea in concluding the ceremony. “Your generous time and efforts are critical for the success of our program. Congratulations to all of you.”

-By Robert Florida

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