Award Ceremony 2015


Special Recogntion Awards


Ultimate Software Presentation | Chris Alper & Cecile Leroux

Chris Alper, is Director for PDIS Training and Employee Development at Ultimate Software.

He is our main liaison with Ultimate software and has been working with our staff to develop engaging activities for our students such as a recent field trip to Ultimate Software offices where our students saw development teams in action and spoke with developers about their experiences.


Director's National Visibility Award | Geoffrey Smith

This year’s winner of the Director’s National Visibility Award is Dr. Geoffrey Smith. Professor Smith was named an ACM Distinguished Scientist in 2013, and his 2014 paper “Additive and multiplicative notions of leakage, and their capacities,” written with five other collaborators was named the winner of the National Security Agency’s third annual Best Scientific Cybersecurity Paper Competition.

For 20 years his research has explored the foundations of computer security, and his current focus is on quantitative information flow. Dr Smith has been at FIU since 1994.


Student Awards



Overall Outstanding Graduate Student | Yimin Yang

Yimin Yang, who has been studying and researching multimedia semantic analysis and multimedia data mining since 2005.

In 2010, Yimin has published over 20 papers (with 10 papers as first author) in her research area. One of her papers was nominated as best paper candidate in the 2013 IEEE International Conference on Multimedia and Expo, and another published on the IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and other submitted to ACM Computing Survey.

Furthermore, she has been heavily involved in a large-scale project called “Business Continuity Information Network”, in which she had led a subproject and developed a mobile system called “Multimedia-Aided Disaster Information Integration System.”

Yimin had been working collaboratively as a research scientist in the lab of TCL Research America for the past year and a half, where she has filed 3 patents and published 3 papers. She is now a Research Engineer in a startup company, Graava Inc., in California.

Outstanding Undergraduate Student | Shadeh Ferris-Francis

Shadeh Ferris-Francis has served various leadership positions in the FIU Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery and Women in Computer Science, and has volunteered in inspiring and encouraging young students and women to also join technical fields.

In February 2015, she joined Discovery Lab as the Student Lead/Project Manager, and in August 2015, she became the Lead Robotics Researcher for the telepresence law-enforcement robot, TeleBot.

In October 2015, she presented in the Undergraduate Engineering Category for The Great Minds in STEM Technical Poster Competition at HENAAC 2015, where her "Robotic Arm Manipulation Using Motion Capture and Open Source Software," won 3rd Place.

This Spring, 2016, she has been selected to intern at the prestigious National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Outstanding Undergraduate Student | Nathan McKay

Nathan Mackay came to FIU after having taught Mathematics and Computer Science at Norland High School for three years, under the prestigious Teach for America program.

For the past two years he has been a top member of the FIU programming team, where his team earned 3rd place in the IEEE Southeast Regional programming competition.

He has completed two internships at Ultimate Software, where he recently earned top honors competing against full-time software engineers.

Nathan has maintained a 3.96 grade point average while studying computer science at FIU.

Outstanding Undergraduate Student | Gio Peralto-Pritchard

Gio Peralto-Pritchard is a Website developer, STARS past President, entrepreneur, and game competition organizer, to name just a few of his many accomplishments.

Since he became President of FIU STARS, our chapter has expanded the tutoring program with paid opportunities and joined a research project in collaboration with Georgia Tech.

On October 25th, 2013 he promoted Microsoft and HBO GO as the new Microsoft Student Partner for Florida International University.

He is already an accomplished IT professional, and SCIS is proud to call him one of our own!


Staff Awards



Best Administrative Staff | Myrian Herlle

From day one that Myrian Herlle started as a Professional Advisor at the SCIS, she has always tried to find ways to positively impact our students’ lives.

Myrian started and has led our new Academic Success Initiative (ASI) program that promotes "a Culture of Excellence" and empowers students to do well academically and in life. The result has been very positive and amazing! The program has been so impactful, that it is being replicated at FIU and at other institutions.

Myrian has always put students first in her work, and has gone above and beyond in order to provide for her students. Her tireless efforts and long hours of work have helped many students to get out of their "At Risk Status" and fulfill their dreams.

Best Technical Staff | Sydney Sheran

Sydney Sheran is our lead Windows Systems Administrator and is responsible for desktop system operations in our labs and offices.

As a recent hire he was challenged with quickly learning the design and implementation of our network and systems and the variety of special needs in our research labs.

Sydney, you have definitely risen to the challenge, demonstrating excellent work in effectively deploying over 150 new systems in both Tech Station and in ECS labs and solving countless technical issues to keep the environment running smoothly.

Sydney works diligently with our faculty, staff and students and always projects a positive attitude and a smile. The School’s Technology team is greatly enhanced by your presence.


Faculty Awards



Excellence in Research | Christy Charters

Christy Charters approaches teaching with enthusiasm, imagination, and innovation. She is constantly searching for and adapting teaching methods to find the best ways to engage students to invest totally in their own learning experience. She has been one of the first to incorporate Learning Assistants into her courses, spending substantial time with her LAs every week to ensure quality and responsiveness. FIU students have rated her teaching as outstanding.

Christy Charters taught a total of 12 sections of four courses in the last year: COP-1000, COP-2250, COP-3337, and COP-3804, including taking over a course on an emergency basis in the middle of the semester. She has been the front-runner in adopting active learning technique in COP-2250, including class coding activities, commissioning videos, and adopting the use of Learning Assistants.

In addition to her teaching duties, Christy mentors local high school teachers who are teaching dual enrollment courses to ensure they are prepared and confident to teach the Alice language to their students. She has also begun an outreach program with local elementary schools with the goal of teaching Code.org’s K-5 curriculum in an after-school program on Wednesdays.

Excellence in Research | Dr. Bogdan Carbunar

Dr. Bogdan Carbunar has recently had 2 IEEE Transactions papers and 1 Wiley Journal accepted, and has published in an additional 2 papers in IEEE Transactions. He has also had 3 prestigious conference and workshop papers published and has had 1 patent granted.

He previously received a best student paper, a best journal paper award and as a PI, he has received two NSF grants.

He is currently advising four PhD students and he is also a member of the PhD committee for two other students. Also, Dr. Carbunar has served as a technical committee member for various professional organizations.

Excellence in Service | Kip Irvine

Kip Irvine has devoted a very significant amount of his time to raising the profile of SCIS in both academia and in the computer industry. He works tirelessly to bring opportunities for internships and employment to our SCIS students, as well as attracting qualified high school students to apply to FIU and SCIS.

Kip has focused his service activities in many, very significant areas of service for SCIS. The first area is his role as coordinator of Co-Op opportunities for SCIS majors. The second area involves his efforts as co-instructor for the SCIS Programming team. SCIS now has an established track record of students who take up the challenge to hone their skills to a high level of algorithmic expertise by competing in programming competitions.

Furthermore, Kip Irvine has been heavily involved in building close relationships with top teachers and administrators in both Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. He has spearheaded outreach activities for both public school teachers and students, including several programming workshops, and represented SCIS on the FIU Engineering Dual Enrollment Working Group.

Kip, have truly raised the stature of SCIS as an institution of learning excellence in the eyes of the South Florida community!



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