Zhifan Li (BA ’06) is a senior software engineer with Intuit. She is building payroll web applications for customers using their QuickBooks solutions. Li, who discovered her knack for solving problems with software as a freshman in COMP 140, participated in several HackRice teams.Her team’s 2014 Fondren Study Room Finder app prompted the university’s library to update their existing app, modeling improvements after the hackathon project. In 2015, her team’s Peel photo app won the People’s Choice Award. Li also participated in a hackathon with two co-workers while interning at Intuit. Their LAP: Life after Prison app, inspired by a news article about ex-convicts, was designed to help ease the transition of newly-released prisoners back into society.
Yan-David Erlich (“Yanda”) is a Managing Director at Coatue, focused on the early stage venture capital practice (Seed through Series B) and the enterprise software investing practice.
Prior to Coatue, Yanda was a 4-time venture-backed Founder/CEO. Most recently, he founded Parsable, the Connected Worker platform for industrial teams. Parsable counts leading Global Fortune 500 industrials as customers and is backed by top-tier Silicon Valley VCs. Mr. Erlich also founded ChoiceVendor, a B2B services marketplace which was acquired by LinkedIn in 2010. He was also the founder & CEO of Mogad and of Happiness Engines.
Yanda has also been an active early-stage investor and advisor and is among the earliest backers of Mixer Labs (acquired by Twitter), Thumbtack, MasterClass, CircleUp, ApartmentList, and Buddybuild (acquired by Apple). He also helped start Mucker Lab, a venture accelerator in Santa Monica, and has been an EIR at Matrix Partners, Trinity Ventures, and Battery Ventures.
Yan-David started his career with software engineering and product management roles at both Google and Microsoft. He has a Bachelor of Science in both Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering from Rice University (Phi Beta Kappa) and an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business where he was an Arjay Millar Scholar. Mr. Erlich has been featured in Forbes, Fortune, Fox, the Wall Street Journal, and the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Read his Rice CS Alumni Profile: https://www.cs.rice.edu/Erlich
Wiliam LeFebvre has been using Unix & Internet technologies since 1983. He is currently the chief architect for ifThen, a web design and development company. William designs and creates scalable and resilient production web environments, DevOps processes, continuous integration and continuous deployment solutions, cloud services, test automation frameworks, performance metrics, and monitoring. He was a founding partner in Digital Valence with Monty Mullig and has worked with many clients including Comcast, Synacor, Coca Cola, and AT&T. Previously, William was a Technology Fellow at Turner Broadcasting where he designed system architectures for many of Turner’s high-volume websites including CNN.com, Money.com, SI.com, NASCAR.com & CartoonNetwork.com. William ran his own consulting business in the late 1990’s, helping companies with Unix systems & Internet technologies, and teaching Cisco classes as a certified Instructor. Previously William worked at Argonne National Laboratory designing and installing classified networks for the US Army in the Pentagon and Seoul, South Korea. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1983 and a Master of Science degree in 1987, both from Rice University.
Wen Xing (B.S. ’13) is a Facebook software engineer in New York. She has served in roles as the product technical lead and the mobile engineering lead for the News product team, as well as an iOS engineer on App Infrastructure team and a full stack engineer on Commerce team. She will be discussing React.js at the 35th Anniversary Celebration.
Waseem Ahmad (B.A. ’14) is a senior software engineer at Facebook. He currently lives in New York City and works on Facebook’s Stories product on Android. In 2012, he orchestrated Rice’s first hackathon with support from the CS Club president, Dennis Qian and HackRice remains a popular annual event.
Read his CS Alumni Profile Interview: https://www.cs.rice.edu/waseem
Check out his personal website: https://waseemahmad.com
Vicky Yao is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Rice University. She completed her Ph.D. in Computer Science at Princeton and stayed on for a postdoctoral fellowship with the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics.
Venky Veeraraghavan (B.A. ’95) leads the product management team for the Azure Machine Learning platform. The platform provides end-2-end APIs, tools and experiences for the Building & Training of models to Deployment, Management and Inferencing of those models in the Cloud and Edge. In addition, his team drives Open and Interoperable AI through the PyTorch.org, ONNX.ai andML.Net community projects.
Travis McPhail (B.S. ’04, M.S. ’07, Ph.D. ’11) started as a graphics expert focusing on research (geometric modeling and image/volume deformations) for the movie, biomedical, and air & space industries, then transitioned to applied research/pure software engineering in the oil and gas industry. His experience in 3D maps and modeling caught the attention of Google, where he has built infrastructure and pushed features across Geo’s flagship products (Maps, Earth, Streetview etc.) He has led map rendering across Google’s major platforms and provides core infrastructure for the associated 3rd-party APIs. Currently, he is focused on harnessing the power of Map/Earth/Streetview for other companies and he drives the engineering teams for the Maps SDK (Enterprise) business.
Read his CS Alumni Profile: https://www.cs.rice.edu/mcphail
Todd Treangan (Ph.D. ’08, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya) is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Rice University.
His Computational Microbial Forensics and Metagenomics research group focuses on interdisciplinary research anchored by Computer Science and Comparative Genomics research.
Although the prevalence of high‐throughput technologies has generated an immense wealth of raw experimental data, the biological insight available within this rich (meta)genomic data remains largely untapped. Given the challenges presented by large‐scale data analysis in computational genomics, our aim is twofold: 1) develop bioinformatics software firmly built upon efficient algorithms and heuristics, compact data structures, and machine learning techniques applied to multiple sequence alignment (both local and global), and 2) perform hypothesis-driven research enabled by recent advances in DNA sequencing technology applied to Microbial Genomics and Ecology.
Anastasios “Tasos” Kyrillidis (Ph.D. 14, EPFL) is the Noah Harding Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Rice University.
Tasos’ research interests include (but not limited to): Optimization for machine learning, Convex and non-convex algorithms and analysis, Large-scale optimization and Any problem that includes a math-driven criterion, and requires an efficient method for its solution.
Syd Polk (BA ’88) is a senior software engineer at Indeed. He specializes in programming languages, with over 20 years of experience in C. He is proficient in Java, Swift, SQL, Objective C, Assembly, and Pascal. He’s also worked in python, C++, perl, bash/shell, and ruby, and spent 12 years working in Tcl/Tk, two of which were as a core developer. He marched with the Rice MOB, is passionate about woodwinds, and plays a mean jazz saxophone.
Stephen Wong (Ph.D. ’89, MIT) is an experienced computer scientist, physicist and educator specializing in object-oriented programming, software engineering and computer science pedagogy. His current research includes the use design patterns in redesigning traditional algorithms, serious gaming systems, cloud-based enterprise information management systems, large-scale, high-fidelity simulation systems and technologies for massive open on-line courses.
Stephanie Weirich (B.A. ’96) is a Professor of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research areas include functional programming, type systems, machine-assisted theorem proving and dependent types. She and her students have made significant contributions to the design of the Haskell language and its type system. Stephanie was recognized by the SIGPLAN Milner Young Researcher award (2016), a Microsoft Outstanding collaborator award, and a most influential ICFP paper award (awarded in 2016, for 2006). She has served as the program chair of POPL 2018, ICFP 2010, and the 2009 Haskell Symposium and was a co-founder of the Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop.
Stephanie often teaches Penn’s introductory Computer Science course “Programming Languages and Techniques I”, as well as graduate courses on Advanced Programming, Software Foundations, and Special Topics in Programming Languages research.
She has also served as Penn’s undergraduate chair for the CIS department and was succeeded in that role by another Rice University CS alumnus, Andreas Haeberlen.
Following her B.A. in CS at Rice University, she earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in CS at Cornell University.
Stan Hanks (BA ’82) is the chief architect at RealWear, Inc. He is an experienced technologist and executive –a “big picture” guy who thinks strategically and long term, but is willing to go to the mat over obscure technical details. He said, “I have been a user of distributed systems since the 80s, where I had to invent the technology that made it possible to treat networks of CPUs as a single system. I live in the cloud, and have, since way before people called it ‘the cloud’.”
Read his CS Profile: https://www.cs.rice.edu/hanks
Sharon Goza (M.C.S. ’89) is the Project Manager for all software development, model building, and animation produced in the Integrated Graphics Operations and Analysis Laboratory (IGOAL) at NASA Johnson Space Center. She is also a published author. Read her short story, “Neural Net” in The Razor’s Edge.
Shams Imam (Ph.D. ’15), a software engineer for Two Sigma, is interested parallel programming models and runtime systems.
At Rice, his resarch involved building a generic framework that efficiently supports all synchronization patterns, not only those available in actor-oriented programs or the fork-join model, in task parallel programs. The work includes extensions for speculative computations in task-parallel models and coordination protocols in the actor model.
He is the lead author for the parallel Habanero-Java library which has been used in teaching a sophomore-level course titled “Fundamentals of Parallel Programming” at Rice University. He was also involved in projects such as Habanero-Scala, CnC-Scala, CnC-Matlab, and CnC-Python — work that was presented in leading conferences and workshops like Euro-Par, ECOOP, OOPSLA, and Scala Days.
CS Alumni Profile: https://www.cs.rice.edu/shams
Seth Fogarty (Ph.D. ’12) is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He is a theoretician focusing on automata-theoretic formal verification, with more general interests in data structures, functional programming, and domain-specific languages. He routinely teaches classes on discrete mathematics, functional programming, programming languages, and compilers. His favorite languages are Haskell and Smalltalk, although most of his code is written in C.
Wrapping up his B.S. CS at the UIUC, Fogarty applied to Rice because it was highly ranked even though he had not heard of it. He received multiple admission offers, but the only two universities that offered him funding were Purdue and Rice. Fogarty said, “I went to visit Purdue first. They welcomed me by saying, ‘We’ll take you to a basketball game.’ I don’t even like basketball.
“Then I got to Rice and they handed me a map and said, ‘We’re in the museum district, here are the 16 museums in walking distance.’ Next, they gave me a walking tour – the campus was beautiful and the people were engaging. At that point, I messaged my friends that I might be moving to Texas.”
Read more in his CS Profile: https://www.cs.rice.edu/fogarty
Scott Rixner (Ph.D. ’01, MIT) is a Professor of Computer Science at Rice University. His research spans virtualization, operating systems, and computer architecture, with a specific focus on memory systems and networking. He is well versed in the internals of the Python programming language, as he has developed Python interpreters for both embedded systems and web browsers. He has been actively involved in curriculum development and oversight at Rice, having actively served on the curriculum committees for the University, School of Engineering, and Department of Computer Science. He has also taught or co-taught many of the introductory computer science courses at Rice, including Computational Thinking, Algorithmic Thinking, Introduction to Program Design, and Introduction to Computer Systems.
He has recently been named the Director for Rice’s Online Masters in Computer Science Program.
Sara Carlstead Brumfield (B.A. ’97) is a co-founder of FromThePage, software that allows volunteers to transcribe written documents online. The open source software is used by libraries, archives, museums and other organizations with historical documents.
Developed by Ben Brumfield (B.A. ’97), her business partner and husband, the software allows their clients to scan in historical manuscripts and make the image available to volunteers who transcribe and index the contents.
She said their business is successful in part because it appeals to people who are already passionate about telling a story. “Transcription is done by volunteers, so that is only going to draw a particular kind of customer. We do it in such a way that you get really immersed in the story, like starting to transcribe a diary and wanting to know what happens next.”
Read her Rice CS Alumni Profile: https://www.cs.rice.edu/saracarl
Rob Shillingsburg is an independent computer game developer, focused on browser-based massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. Rob’s interest lies in building large, ambitious projects with small, efficient teams, using technology to reduce the human labor costs normally associated with these games.
Reginald DesRoches – affectionately known as “Dean Reggie” – began his term as the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering at Rice University in 2017. He previously served as Georgia Tech’s Chair of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and raised in Queens, New York City, DesRoches says his love of science and math led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Berkeley. He was there in 1989 when the San Francisco area was hit with a magnitude 6.9 earthquake, and witnessed firsthand the damage to the infrastructure of the Bay Area.
He earned his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley in 1998.
Rebecca Parsons (Ph.D. ’92) is ThoughtWorks’ Chief Technology Officer, with decades-long applications development experience across a range of industries and systems.
Her technical experience includes leading the creation of large-scale distributed object applications and the integration of disparate systems. Separate from her passion for deep technology, she is a strong advocate for diversity in the technology industry. Committed to increasing the number of women in coding and STEM fields, she has served on the board of CodeChix and acted as an advisor to Women Who Code.
In 2018, she was recognized with the Anita Borg ABIE Technical Leadership Award.
Read her Rice CS Alumni Profile: https://www.cs.rice.edu/rparsons
Rakesh Agrawal (B.A. ’98) is the Founder and CEO of SnapStream, the company that helps people record a LOT of television and then search inside those recordings for anything… a celebrity, political candidate, research topic, government, country, etc. The product is in use by organizations like the The Daily Show, the New York City Mayor’s office, the U.S. Senate, the White House, The Late Show with Colbert, NBC, CBS, ClearChannel, E! Entertainment, the DNC, Politico, Buzzfeed, MLB Networks and more.
He is also an investor in 80+ startups, including direct investments in Cruise (acquired by GM), LendUp,Wag, Grin, and Remix Software.
CS Alumni Profile: https://www.cs.rice.edu/rakesh
Peter Elmers (B.S. ’17) is a software engineer at Facebook. While an undergraduate at Rice University, Elmers volunteered as a Mozilla open source contributor, fixing bugs and adding features to the Rust compiler and DXR cross referencing tool.
He also worked as a Rice research assistant for three years and spent two summers interning with Mozilla before capturing the attention of Facebook.
Nick Vrvilo (Ph.D. ’17) is a full-time Software Engineer at Two Sigma, developing open source cluster orchestration software. Nick enjoys applying functional programming techniques to implement scalable distributed systems, and encourages adoption of containerization via Kubernetes to streamline deploying and managing of web services. In addition to his work at Two Sigma, Nick has also developed an affinity for teaching. He is currently an adjunct lecturer at Rice University, teaching Functional Programming in Scala.
Read his Rice CS Alumni Profile: https://cs.rice.edu/vrvilo.
Rice Computer Science alumnus Nicholas Hirsch (B.S. ’10) is an experienced software generalist with a love for all problems, technical and otherwise. After working as a software engineer for Amazon and as a senior team lead at Blucora, he ventured out to start his own companies. During the 35th Anniversary of the Computer Science Department at Rice University, he will be moderating the “What was Useful about my Rice CS Experience” panel.
Hirsch said, “I’ve been programming since I was 12, I asked for a compiler (Microsoft Visual C++) for my 14th birthday, and I’ve been hooked on software ever since. I’ve worked on linux kernel drivers, custom embedded systems for robotics, mobile apps, web apps, cloud infrastructure, front-end client libraries, micro-service APIs, database applications, etc… I’ve handled the job responsibilities of being a software engineer, team lead, people manager, project manager, QA specialist, and now business owner.
His current company, SimplyAugmented, is building foundational technology to power augmented reality (AR) solutions.
Nick Collins (B.A. ’00, M.C.S.’02) is the Big Data Practice Director at Accenture’s Enkitec Group.
Nathan Dauntenhahn (Ph.D. ’16 UIUC) is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Rice University.
Computing systems contain vast amounts of sensitive information, but most systems have numerous layers of abstractions, making it challenging to guarantee high-level security properties. His research identifies fundamental abstraction gaps and closes them with cross-layer solutions. He am most interested in building trustworthy systems software, where a single exploit could compromise the whole system. His research in operating system security has applied two key approaches: 1) decompose systems in ways that enhance trustworthiness and 2) harden them to attack.
Natalie Berestovsky (Ph.D. ’13) is the Manager for the Data Science Center of Excellence at Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. She works closely with engineers and geoscientists applying statistical modeling and machine learning to optimize the strategy for current production and advance competitor intelligence efforts for future exploration.
CS Alumni Profile: https://www.cs.rice.edu/natalie