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5 Graduate Students Named Siebel Scholars for Work in Computer Science

ARTICLE BY: Regina Wang

The Daily Princetonian

September 26th 2011

Computer science Ph.D. candidates Anirudh Badam, Robert Dockins, Wyatt Lloyd and Chong Wang and master’s degree candidate Nicholas Jones are the first University graduate students to receive the Siebel Scholars award, an award for leading scholars in top computer science and business programs.

The award provides the selected students with lifelong membership in a prestigious network of scholars that convenes at an annual conference and other events, as well as a $35,000 award for their final academic year through a gift from the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation.

The Siebel Scholars will also join current and past award recipients at an annual conference and other events.

Students were nominated by the computer science department to apply, and winners were later chosen from the applicants.  

“There was the requirement given that the student was approximately going into their last year of graduate studies,” computer science professor Andrew Appel ’81 said. “We then selected students for mostly academic excellence and in part research that adhered to the ideas of the Siebel Scholars program.”

The Siebel Scholars Foundation invited the University’s computer science department to select a group of Siebel Scholars last spring. The department is one of 17 computer science, bioengineering or business programs from 12 universities in the United States and China that make up the scholars.

“The Siebel Scholars Foundation noted that Princeton was one of the top computer science Ph.D. programs in the country,” Appel said. “I think the Siebel Scholars Foundation just wanted to have the top computer science programs and the top MBA programs in the country.”

Each scholar has a demonstrated leadership record in addition to academic excellence.

Badam spearheaded two major research projects, and his first project — which involves improving Internet speed — was selected as one of the top 10 innovations of 2009 in Technology Review, published by MIT. His second project aims to improve computer efficiency and is affecting major corporations such as IBM and Apple.

“Both projects show that we’re trying to reduce the cost of the Internet to make it more accessible,” Badam said.

Meanwhile, Wang has worked on machine learning to design models and algorithms that let computers discover common patterns in data.

 The goal of one of his projects is to recommend articles to researchers based on records of popular readings each day. Wang hopes to make even more meaningful contributions after completing his degree.

“By doing research in labs and the industry, it is important and different from a Ph.D. because you have more responsibilities,” Wang said.

Lloyd has demonstrated leadership in more personal settings, organizing social events and encouraging collaboration among graduate students to facilitate the exchange of ideas among bright minds. 

His projects have included sessions for graduate students to “collaborate ideas, provide feedback and make projects,” he said, as well as a graduate student social hour for students to get to know each other.

With the award, the students will have a chance to interact with other Siebel Scholars and share their research and ideas.

“The Siebel Scholarship is a unique way to interact with different people,” Wang said. “It’s an opportunity to let others know what you’re working on by talking to different people in other fields.”

The collaboration will also allow students to receive feedback on their work and perhaps come up with new ideas.

“The fact is there’s a place for a prestigious set of people where they discuss problems of pressing importance and work on making contribution to impact society,” Badam said.