New Siebel Scholars prove to be leaders in technology
The Siebel Scholars Foundation announced the recipients of the annual Siebel Scholars awards. This program, which currently consists of nearly 870 Siebel Scholars, recognizes the most talented individuals of business, bioengineering, and computer science graduate schools across the country.
Each year, five graduate students from Carnegie Mellon are selected and awarded $35,000 for their last year of studies. This year’s Carnegie Mellon Siebel Scholars are Jason Koenig, Anuj Kumar, Gabriela Marcu, Ishan Misra, and Mrinmaya Sachan.
Koenig was a computer science major at Carnegie Mellon who graduated in five semesters. During his time as an undergraduate, he was a course assistant for Principles of Imperative Computation and did research with computer science professor and current head of the department of computer science, Frank Pfenning, on the researching aspects of the subset of the C programming language used in that course. Koenig also worked on the lunar rover project and interned twice at Microsoft. After graduating early, he interned at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, working on cybersecurity and formal methods. In August, he returned to Carnegie Mellon for a fifth-year master’s in computer science. On the topic of the Siebel Scholars, Koenig said, “It doesn’t just cover tuition. There is a pretty big community of former recipients, which looks to be a great resource.”
Kumar is a Ph.D. candidate in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII). His research deals mainly with developing voice-user interfaces for atypical users, such as children, low-literate users, or speakers of minority languages. In the past, he has worked at Microsoft and IBM, as well as at the University of California, Berkeley, and the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad in India.
He also served as a program committee member at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Intelligent User Interfaces conference, and as a reviewer at the Conference on Computing Factors in Computing Systems and MobileHCI. “More than the award itself, I think it’s the recognition and the community that I’m very excited to be part of,” Kumar said. “When I look at some of the alumni, especially their past research, where each of them have landed, and what they are doing currently, it’s a bit overwhelming, but at the same time tremendously motivating.”
Marcu is also a Ph.D. candidate in the HCII. Her research involves various fields, such as ubiquitous computing, applied sociology, and mental health. Throughout the past two years, she has led a 10-person research team studying behavioral data consumption and sharing among stakeholders in special education, conducted fieldwork in schools and homes, and developed a tablet-based data collection system and visual analysis tools through action research.
Misra is a master’s student in the Robotics Institute. After spending his undergraduate years exploring many different fields of computer science research — including theory of computation, databases, networking, operating systems, and computer vision — he found his passion working with object detection and scene detection, which are both important for systems in which robots encounter unknown objects.
He is interested in pursuing a future in research and is currently debating between applying for a Ph.D. or looking for a job. “The ‘Siebel Scholar’ title feels really nice,” Misra said. “It is a unique scholarship with a really strong community of past scholars and faculty to it. Even though the scholarship lasts only for one year, the nurturing community stays with you.”
Sachan is currently a master’s student in the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon. Before coming to Pittsburgh, he received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. His past job experiences include interning at the National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo and working in the Information Management group at IBM Research India. The main topic of his research involves understanding the structure of social networks and the flow of textual information to better understand interests and relationships among people. “It is indeed a pleasure to be part of the nice cohort of really smart and motivated people,” Sachan said.
All five of this year’s Siebel Scholars show the amount of dedication and intelligence required for the award. In a few years, they will become a part of the vast Siebel Scholars network, serving as mentors for future scholars from Carnegie Mellon.