Five CS Students Named Siebel Scholars in 2019 Class

September 14, 2018

UChicago computer science students studying quantum computing, data-driven public policy, distributed systems, computational complexity, and predictive modeling of police misconduct are among the 2019 class of Siebel Scholars, the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation announced today.

Adam Holmes, Haopeng Liu, Emma Nechamkin, Alena Stern, and Zihan Tan represent 5 of the 96 students chosen this year by the prestigious program from elite graduate programs in computer science, business, bioengineering, and energy science. The group includes both PhD candidates in the Department of Computer Science and students in the Computational Analysis and Public Policy master’s program (MS-CAPP) offered jointly by the the Department of Computer Science and Harris Public Policy.

Each student will receive $35,000 from the Siebel Foundation for their final year of study and join a community of 1,300 current and former Siebel Scholars. The 2019 class marks the second year that the Siebel Foundation has chosen students from UChicago computer science programs. Other computer science departments in the Siebel program include Carnegie-Mellon, MIT, Stanford and UC Berkeley.

“We’re delighted that the Siebel Foundation chose to recognize these UChicago CS students for their accomplishments,” said Michael J. Franklin, Liew Family Chair of Computer Science at UChicago. “These five exceptional students represent the broadening scope of computer science research and education at the University of Chicago, including the theoretical foundations of the field, computer systems, and data-driven social sciences and policy.”

2019 UChicago CS Siebel Scholars include:

Adam Holmes is a Ph.D. candidate at UChicago CS, advised by Fred Chong, the Seymour Goodman Professor in the Department of Computer Science. His research interest is in constructing full-stack quantum computing systems, including quantum error correction protocol design and evaluation, device-aware compilation, and system architecture design. Holmes also co-founded a non-profit organization which conducted gift drives to benefit children’s hospitals and book drives to benefit underprivileged elementary and high-schools in his hometown of the greater Sacramento area.

Haopeng Liu is a Ph.D. candidate at UChicago CS, advised by associate professor Shan Lu. In his research, he designs and builds program analysis tools that automatically discover and fix reliability and efficiency problems in cloud systems. Earlier this year, Liu received the William Rainey Harper Dissertation Fellowship, one of the highest UChicago honors for graduate students. Liu mentors high school and undergraduate students, participates in industry collaboration projects and technology transfers, and in his spare time, runs marathons.

Emma Nechamkin is a second-year student in MS-CAPP. As a data scientist, she has worked on a predictive model that assesses risk of police misconduct with the University of Chicago Crime Lab, analyzed patterns of loss and aggression in the social media of at-risk youth with Columbia University's SAFE Lab, and helped predict zoning code data from county building assessments with the Urban Institute. Before graduate school, Nechamkin taught high school chemistry in Chicago with Teach for America and worked as a healthcare consultant at Simon-Kucher and Partners.

Alena Stern is a second-year student in MS-CAPP. Stern has worked with the Sunlight Foundation, combining econometric analysis and natural language processing to assess how open data and freedom of information policies create transparent and responsive governance, and AidData, where she worked with eleven national governments to implement aid information management systems to improve the effectiveness of programs fighting global poverty. Stern co-leads the Civic Scopeathon to address technical challenges facing nonprofits on Chicago’s south side, as well as the Community Action Bureau, a Harris student organization that provides pro-bono consulting services.

Zihan Tan is a Ph.D. candidate at UChicago CS, advised by Julia Chuzhoy, Professor at Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago, and co-advised by Professor László Babai, George and Elizabeth Yovovich Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics. His research interests include algorithms, combinatorial optimization and computational complexity. Tan has received several awards for his academic excellence and leadership activities, including the McCormick Fellowship, and was the captain of the Chinese U21 Bridge Card Team.

“Every year, the Siebel Scholars continue to astound me with their commitment to academics, research and influencing our collective future. This year’s class is exceptional, and once again represents the best and brightest from around the world,” said Thomas M. Siebel, Chairman of the Siebel Scholars Foundation, in a news release. “It is my great pleasure to welcome these men and women into this ever-growing, lifelong community, and I personally look forward to seeing their impact and contributions unfold.”