The University of Arizona

Events & News

Spring 2008

Message from the Department Head
Welcome to CS News, the newsletter for the Department of Computer Science. In this issue you will find updates on faculty, research, students and alumni. Through the years, the faculty and staff have enjoyed building meaningful relationships with the computer science students, and this newsletter is one of the ways that we can maintain that important connection. Please take a few minutes to learn what’s new in the department, and let us know what you would like to read about in future issues.


greg andrews signature

Greg Andrews, Professor and Interim Department Head

P.S. Be sure to read about the Name the Newsletter Contest!

In August 2007, Greg Andrews became a member of the BIO5 Institute.  Professor Andrews is a Co-Principal Investigator for the iPlant Collaborative, a five-year $50 million grant from NSF to develop a cyber infrastructure for solving grand challenge problems in plant sciences.  Computer Science has nine faculty members involved with the iPlant Collaborative: Greg Andrews, John Hartman, Richard Snodgrass, Kobus Barnard, and Suzanne Westbrook are members of the Project Team and were involved in writing the proposal. Alon Efrat, John Kececioglu, Bongki Moon, and Beichuan Zhang will be involved in special projects.  To learn more about the iPlant Collaborative visit:

Assistant Professor Kobus Barnard will receive an NSF CAREER grant entitled "Learning Models for Object Structure". The grant will provide $450,000 over five years for research, education, and outreach initiatives.  The project will develop approaches for learning stochastic geometric models for object categories from image data. Good models for object form are needed for many important problems in computer vision and intelligent systems. The project also integrates two important educational initiatives: 1) curriculum development to increase opportunities for classroom study in computer vision, machine learning, and scientific applications at the University of Arizona; and 2) an educational outreach program targeted at Tucson high-school students from low socioeconomic groups that will promote an understanding of the integration of science and computation. Learn about the project.

Assistant Professor Beichuan Zhang has been awarded two federal agency grants. The three-year, $257K National Science Foundation grant is titled "Enabling Future Internet Innovations through Transit Wire (eFIT)." This project will create a new Internet routing architecture that will be able to accommodate the fast growth of user networks, allow ISP networks and user networks to innovate independently, and enable new mechanisms for security and traffic engineering on the Internet. This is a UA-led collaboration with Colorado State University, UCLA, and the University of Memphis, with a $1M total project budget. It is funded under the NSF Future Internet Design (FIND) program.

The other recently awarded grant, from the Department of Homeland Security, is a two-year $300K grant titled "WIT: A Watchdog System for Internet Routing". This project aims to develop a system that continuously monitors the routing activity on the Internet and notifies network operators of suspicious activities in a timely and reliable manner. This is a collaboration between Colorado State University (lead), UA, UCLA, and the University of Oregon, with a $1.5M total budget.

Greg Andrews speaks about the iPlant Collaborative. View the press conference.

The work of Rick Snodgrass, Kyriacos Pavlou, and Michael Ju is mentioned in the article “Keeping Your DBA Honest,” in the January 2008 issue of Bank Technology News. Read the full article.

John Kececioglu’s research is cited in the September-October 2007 issue of American Scientist. Read the full article.

Joseph Schlecht, Alex Balderrama, and Justin Cappos will be presented with awards for the categories of Scholarship, TA/Mentoring, and Service, respectively, at the Graduate Student Awards Banquet on Friday, March 28.

Industrial Partners
Many CS alumni started their careers with companies that recruited them while they were attending the UA. This partnership benefits not only our students but also the companies that employ our graduates. The recently launched Industrial Partners program will allow the department to build relationships with companies who wish to recruit and employ computer science students. Companies will enjoy the benefit of exclusive recruiting events with our students as well as the opportunity to interact with the faculty about technical issues related to common interests. You can help us to raise awareness about this program by serving as an Industrial Partners Ambassador. As an Ambassador, you can share news about the Industrial Partners program with the employees in your company who are responsible for University Programs or college recruiting. If you are interested in serving as an Industrial Partners Ambassador, or if your organization would like to learn more about the program’s benefits, please send email to:

Undergraduate Showcase
Kendra Walworth, a junior with a double major in Computer Science and Linguistics, was honored at the annual Pillars of Excellence reception. Kendra, a track and field student-athlete, who competes in the hammer throw, was one of ten student scholar recipients to be recognized at this year’s event. Kendra and her parents Jim Walworth and Mary Comeau.

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"Kendra is an outstanding credit to the Department and University. It is rare indeed to excel in two academic fields as well as varsity athletics," said Professor Greg Andrews, interim department head.

Tasneem Kaochar, a junior majoring in Computer Science, is one of 30 students who presented her work Identifying Unreachable Code for Compaction of the Linux Kernel at the 21st annual Undergraduate Research Forum. Tasneem’s research focuses on alias analysis.


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“Tasneem is a very impressive student and a joy to work with. The quality of her research goes well beyond what one typically sees in an undergraduate,” said Professor Saumya Debray, Tasneem’s faculty mentor.

Congratulations to Andrew “Drew” Davidson, Outstanding Senior award recipient, and Juhani “Jay” Torkkola, Excellence in Undergraduate Research award recipient. Enjoy the recent interview with Drew Davidson.


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What inspired you to study Computer Science?

“I have always wanted a career where I could express my creativity and create something tangible that I could point to and be proud of. Writing programs let me do both of those things. Computer Science is a field where the expression ‘knowledge is power’ is especially true. The more I learn, the more I realize computer scientists are incredibly empowered people. I was planning on being a software engineer after college, and various opinion polls placed it at around the sixth best job in terms of employee satisfaction. The last I heard, it has moved up to third.”

Where do you see that you have had the most impact as an undergraduate?

“I spent several semesters as an underclassman acting as a Section Leader - an undergraduate teaching assistant. If I got one of my discussion sections excited about Computer Science, then maybe I helped to inspire twenty something of my peers to go on to greatness. On the occasions when I got to lead the lecture, any key concept that I taught might have helped more than one hundred students. I don't know if I can top that.”

How do you use your leadership style to help your fellow students?

“I have been involved in some very cool resources for undergraduates, but for the most part my role is as an enabler for innovative students who may want to lead a workshop class or sharpen their talents. I try to make the department an open environment where people have the ability to succeed and prosper as they see fit.”

What would you say is something that not many people know about Drew Davidson?

“I'm a huge fan of anchovies! ACM meetings have a tendency to feature an anchovy pizza if I'm the one making the order.”

What are your future plans?

“I've been accepted to several graduate schools, so next year I'll be starting on a graduate degree. I'm not sure exactly what I want to do for a career, but I enjoy research and I think that getting a doctorate opens up a lot of doors.”

What are you most proud of?

“It's hard to pick out one single thing. I suppose I'm most proud of the fact that every day when I sit down at my desk to work, I'm using skills that I absolutely never dreamed I'd have four years ago. It's so rare in life that one has a chance to look back and realize that they have bettered themselves.”

Alumni Giving
Special thanks to CS alumni and friends. Through Microsoft’s Employee Giving Program, the team raised funds for the Department to receive 220 Office Pro 2007 licenses!

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Many thanks to Milind Chabbi for leading this group effort and to Microsoft for matching the team’s donation! Read what the team says about its UA experiences, philanthropy and career advice for CS students.

Q:  Describe your academic experience in the Department of Computer Science.

A:  “I had a very enriching academic experience at the UA. I had the opportunity to work with some of the best professors like Dr. Hartman, Dr. Debray, and Dr. Andrews.  I had the opportunity to TA undergrad classes, and it made me realize ‘When you teach you learn and when you learn you teach.’”
Milind Chabbi, MS, spring 2007, Employer: Microsoft-Redmond

Q:  What do you and your fellow alums like to do for fun?

A:  “We have a good representation from the UA community here in Seattle. We often get together and play board games and poker when the weather is not so kind. Summer, of course, is spent outdoors.”
Sowmya Dayanad, MS, spring 2006, Employer: Microsoft-Redmond

Q:  Why is giving back to the Department of Computer Science important?

A:  “Education is important. It is the best investment anyone can ever make for yourself and the overall community.”
Rohit Kundaji, MS, spring 2005, Employer: Google, Inc.-Seattle

A. “A sense of pride and gratitude for the opportunity of being part of the department.”
Sharath Udupa, MS, spring 2005, Employer: Microsoft - Redmond

Q: What career advice would you offer?

A:  “Develop close relationships with the professors, since they are great mentors.  Take as many diverse courses as possible so that you can expand your horizons.”
Anand Iyer, BS, spring 2006, Employer: Microsoft-Redmond

Giving Opportunities
Gifts from private donors are important to the mission of the Department. Visit Support Computer Science to see how your gift can help.

Name the Newsletter Contest
Show us how creative you are! We want to know what you think is the best original name for the newsletter.  Send your entry to by June 30, 2008. The winner and the new name will be featured in the Fall 2008 issue.

Contact Us
Let us know what you have been doing since you graduated and where you are employed. Have you recently moved, changed jobs, retired, launched a new business, started a family or returned to school? Please send your updates to: