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Five SEAS Computer Science Students Named 2013 Siebel Scholars

Harvard Gazette

September 14th 2012

Cambridge, Mass. - September 14, 2012 - Five graduate students dedicated to the study of computer science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) were named among the recipients of the 2013 Siebel Scholars awards.

Tunde Agboola, Heather Pon-Barry, Adam Sealfon, Jonathan Ullman, and Thomas Wang will each receive a $35,000 award for their final year of graduate studies.

The SEAS-affiliated students in computer science are among other honorees hailing from Carnegie Mellon University, MIT, Stanford University, Tsinghua University (China), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of California, Berkeley.

Siebel Scholars are selected from among students who rank in the top of their class and are chosen by the deans of their respective schools on the basis of outstanding academic achievement and demonstrated qualities of leadership.

SEAS' Dean Cherry A. Murray will host a reception for the winners on September 20.

The Harvard winners will also attend the 2012 Siebel Scholars Conference on October 12-14 at the University of California, Berkeley, to debate the root causes of class conflict, social and economic trends fueling disparities in income and wealth, the best approaches to solve the problem of class warfare, and the question of who should take responsibility.

Siebel Scholars will tackle this topic with experts representing a broad array of perspectives, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, New York Times columnist David Brooks, authors Niall Ferguson and Charles Murray, and consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

Student Biographies

Tunde Agboola acquired his relentless work ethic through the adversity he endured over three years of failing to make his high school basketball team. His determination did not go unnoticed. By his senior year he made varsity and earned several accolades. Tunde’s experience undoubtedly shaped his personal ambitions, in turn making all of his accomplishments thereafter possible. Tunde attended Boston University, where he was the first walk-on player in a decade. The tremendous commitment of a Division I program did not interfere with academics. Tunde became a teaching assistant and received grants as a research assistant for two summers. He was co-president of the Minority Engineers’ Society and selected as an adviser to newly admitted engineering students. Tunde currently works at Wellington Management as a software engineer developing iPad applications. He spends his spare time creating mobile applications, many of which are available for the iPhone and Android. Tunde is pursuing a master's degree in Computer Science at Harvard.

Heather Pon-Barry is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at Harvard. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Symbolic Systems at Stanford University. Her research interests include natural language processing, speech, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive science. Heather’s Ph.D. research in the area of spoken language processing advances the development of personalized, intelligent speech interfaces that can sense a user’s attitude or emotional state based on the user’s manner of speaking. At Harvard, she has served as co-director of the Harvard Graduate Women in Science and Engineering Mentoring Program. Heather is the recipient of NSF and NDSEG graduate research fellowships. She plans to pursue a career in academia.

Adam Sealfon is entering his final year at Harvard, where he is studying to receive a joint A.B. in mathematics and master's degree in computer science. He is particularly interested in algorithms and information theory. This past summer he was working at the Weizmann Institute of Science on a project relating to graph theory and algorithms. He has previously done research with professors at Harvard and MIT on projects in complexity theory, algorithms, and cryptography. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Adam attended Stuyvesant High School, where he was valedictorian, captain of the math team, and editor-in-chief of the school's math publication. ‪Adam enjoys hiking, bicycling, soccer, swimming, piano, guitar, and Frisbee. He sings bass in Shani, a Harvard a cappella group.

Jonathan Ullman is a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard, where he is completing his thesis in privacy-preserving data analysis with the Theory of Computation group under the supervision of Professor Salil Vadhan. He recently spent a year in the Bay Area as an intern at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley and as a visiting student at Stanford. While at Harvard, Jonathan organizes the Theory of Computation Colloquium as well as a weekly interdisciplinary privacy seminar. He holds an undergraduate degree from Princeton. Prior to Harvard, he worked for Jane Street Capital in New York City.

Thomas Wang is an A.B./S.M. Computer Science student at Harvard. His interest lies in the application of technology to help improve society. On the accessibility team at Google, he worked on building a standard for audio descriptions in video for the blind. Previously, he helped out with Kyruus, a Boston start-up changing healthcare with a Big Data approach. Other experience includes the Data Freeway team at Facebook where he worked on the Scribe log server, developing ways to make it more robust to failures.


About the Siebel Scholars Foundation

For more information about the Siebel Scholars program, please visit

The Siebel Scholars program was founded in 2000 by the Siebel Foundation to recognize the most talented students at the world’s leading graduate schools of business, computer science, and bioengineering. Today, our active community of nearly 800 recipients from 19 graduate programs serve as advisers to the Siebel Foundation and work collaboratively to find solutions to society’s most pressing problems.

The Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation established as a private foundation in 1996. Its mission is to support projects and organizations that work to improve the quality of life, environment, and education of its community members. The Siebel Foundation funds projects to support the homeless and underprivileged, educational and research programs, methamphetamine abuse prevention, and alternative energy solutions. The Siebel Foundation engages in strategic philanthropy; as such, it does not entertain grant requests, but invests in projects it creates and operates. For more information, please visit

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