University of North Texas
CSE Alumni Email Newsletter

November 2015  

CSE News
CSE Alumni News
Student News
College of Engineering News
UNT News

Greetings from the CSE Chair

Chairman Barrett Bryant

Dear CSE Alumni and Friends,

I want to share with you the outcome of our ABET accreditation visit this semester. An ABET team came in early November and evaluated our B.A. in Information Technology and B.S. in Computer Science programs. While the results will not become official until summer, I believe that we have passed our accreditation with a few changes to our assessment process. Our next accreditation visit by ABET will be for all three of our undergraduate programs in 2019-2020. Thanks to all the faculty, students, alumni, and Advisory Board members who helped us achieve our accreditation!

We are hiring 3 faculty members this year to join us in Fall 2016, one in computer security, one in computer systems, and one lecturer. We have also been approved to develop an unfinished area of the building next to our current space that will expand our area by 1/3, making room for our new faculty hires and new research labs they will be establishing, as well as expanded space for our existing research labs.

In October 2015, our CSE Department sent the largest delegation of students and faculty ever to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. I am proud that CSE was so well represented this year in Houston! This would not have been possible without generous financial support. Please see my note about this below.

Congratulations to Dr. Armin Mikler on receiving the UNT Research Leadership Award and to Dr. Saraju Mohanty on being recognized for his promotion to Professor at the UNT Salute to Faculty Excellence! Read more about our research labs at CSE and other department news below.

In Alumni News, Greg Thurman is featured in our Alumni Focus. Greg brought his family to the College of Engineering Homecoming party in October. We enjoy having our alumni come back to visit us. Engineers Week is February 21-27, 2016 and we invite alumni to come back to be a "Professor for a Day." There are other ways you can help support our CSE Department. Please contact me to find out how you can help us!

Barrett Bryant
Professor and Chair

Department of Computer Science and
Engineering News

CSE Professor Ian Parberry named a Distinguished Scientist by ACM

Congratulations to Dr. Ian Parberry on being named a Distinguished Scientist by the ACM in 2015! The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s leading association of computing professionals, has selected 49 computing leaders from ACM honors members working in the areas of education, engineering and science (see complete list at this ACM news release).

The 2015 ACM Distinguished Members are drawn from leading academic institutions, as well as corporate and national research laboratories around the world. The criteria for selection to the Distinguished Member grade include at least 15 years of professional experience, five years of continuous ACM membership, and significant accomplishments or impact within the computing field.

UNT CSE at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

By Natalie Parde

This October, UNT’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering sent 21 students and five faculty members to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Houston, Texas. The Grace Hopper Celebration is an annual conference designed to bring together women technologists and to highlight the contributions of women in the field. The conference includes numerous networking events, career development workshops, technical sessions, undergraduate and graduate student poster contests, and a career fair representing more than 200 companies and universities. This year, the Grace Hopper Celebration boasted more than 12,000 attendees from 66 countries around the world.

In addition to being a Bronze Sponsor for the 3rd year in a row, UNT’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering attended the Grace Hopper Celebration as one of only 15 computer science departments in the nation selected to participate in the Building Recruiting And Inclusion for Diversity (BRAID) initiative. As part of the initiative, the department receives $30,000 per year to help implement new approaches to increase diversity, through methods such as expanding local community outreach, redesigning entry-level computer science curriculum, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, and promoting community-building student organizations and activities for underrepresented students. In addition to support from BRAID, funding for our students to attend the conference was made possible by generous gifts from Fidelity Investments and the UNT Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.

Attending a conference such as Grace Hopper is extremely valuable to our students. Please see the testimonies of several of our students below:

From a Junior in Computer Science: "The experience of Grace Hopper is one I’ll never forget and I benefitted from in numerous ways. It gave me the chance I needed to feel included in a community that is often times exclusive. The people were wonderful, the talks were informative, and the venue was inviting. This also gave me the chance to make connections to further my research degree at UNT and give myself a better chance in graduate school."

From an M. S. student in Computer Science: "The conference gives you a platform to cultivate your technical and professional skills. I got to attend sessions related to Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence which was helpful for my research. I met successful women in computing who shared their life experiences which was very inspiring. Additionally, I got to spend time with my professors and peers which helped to know them better."

From a Ph. D. student in Computer Science and Engineering: "It was empowering, and the personal and career benefits that I received are manifold. At a session discussing Women in Computing Societies at Universities. We formed an informal network of student organization leaders from across many colleges and universities, so that we may support one another and share ideas for activities and practices. We learned strategies for keeping members connected, planning events, and other issues, followed by an open discussion of some challenges that the attendees had encountered in their own organizations. I have already begun to implement some of the strategies at UNT, and plan to implement more in the future."

Dr. Barrett Bryant presents Keynote about CSE Department Research

Dr. Murat Tanik of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (founder of the SDPS), Dr. Barrett Bryant, and Dr. Oscar Garcia of UNT Electrical Engineering

Dr. Bryant presented a keynote lecture on "Directions in Interdisciplinary Computer Science and Engineering" at the 20th Conference of the Society for Design and Process Science (SDPS 2015). Dr. Bryant discussed research work at the two interdisciplinary centers in the CSE department, the Center for Computational Epidemiology and Response Analysis (CeCERA) and the Center for Information and Computer Security (CICS) and how computer science and engineering could interact with other disciplines to develop societal breakthroughs.

SDPS is a premier conference focusing on trans-disciplinary engineering. Dr. Oscar Garcia of the UNT Electrical Engineering Department also presented a keynote lecture at the conference and the UNT College of Engineering was a Copper Sponsor of the conference. The keynotes were held in the Crystal Ballroom of the Hilton Fort Worth, formerly the Hotel Texas, where President John F. Kennedy made his final speech on November 22, 1963, before leaving for Dallas.

Dr. Armin Mikler receives UNT Research Leadership Award

Dr. Armin Mikler and CENG Dean Dr. Costas Tsatsoulis

CSE Professor Dr. Armin Mikler received the UNT Research Leadership Award at the UNT Faculty Excellence celebration on October 2, 2015. Before that, Dr. Mikler presented the 2015 Distinguished Research Lecture at the Salute to Faculty Excellence in Research and Creativity on September 30th.

Dr. Mikler’s presentation "Finding Research in Unexpected Places: The Story of RE-PLAN" was about his research as Director of the Center for Computational Epidemiology and Response Analysis. To see pictures and a video of Dr. Mikler’s lecture, please see this media gallery page. Congratulations to Dr. Mikler on receiving this honor!

Professor Mohanty receives Air Force Contract

Professor Saraju Mohanty has been awarded a U.S. Air Force contract. The project titled "Memory Design Optimization for Low-Latency Embedded Vision Processor (LLEVS)" is exploring options for fast memory optimization for application specific processors. More information about the contract is available at this website.

Professor Mohanty believes that the significant experience of his group on memory design and its optimization will lead to major success in developing energy efficient and high performance memory. The recent two patents granted to Dr. Mohanty have received widespread recognition. UNT Faculty Success published an article titled "Engineering Professors Awarded Multiple Patents to Innovate Integrated Circuit Design" which appeared in the latest newsletter.

The College of Engineering published this article "Researchers Receive Patent for a Method for Designing Complex, Mixed-signal Circuits" to discuss the new patent. Professor Mohanty has been inducted to the editorial board of IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine as a senior editor. His responsibility as the senior editor is to oversee special issues for the magazine.

Ph.D. candidates/students from the NanoSystem Design Laboratory (NSDL) travelled to ACM/IEEE International Conference on Computer-Aided Design (ICCAD), held in Austin, TX November 5-6, 2015. Prasanth Yanambaka, Shital Joshi, and Umar Albalawi attended. Prasanth and Shital would like to acknowledge travel support from the sponsors of the meeting: IEEE, Cadence, and Intel. Umar acknowledges support of the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission for his travel. The following two papers were presented at Austin:

  • S. Joshi, S. P. Mohanty, and E. Kougianos, "Unconventional EDA for Mixed-Signal Circuits: A Graphene FET based LC-VCO Case Study", Frontiers in Analog CAD (FAC): International Workshop on Design Automation for Analog and Mixed-Signal Circuits, ACM/IEEE International Conference on Computer-Aided Design (ICCAD), November 5-6, 2015.

  • P. V. Yanambaka, S. P. Mohanty, and E. Kougianos, "Memristor-based AMS Circuits: A Relaxation Oscillator For Vehicle Turn Signaling Case Study", Frontiers in Analog CAD (FAC): International Workshop on Design Automation for Analog and Mixed-Signal Circuits, ACM/IEEE International Conference on Computer-Aided Design (ICCAD), November 5-6, 2015.

NSF Net-Centric & Cloud Software & Systems (NCSS) Industry & University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) News

The Net-Centric I/UCRC has a new Administrative Specialist, Melanie Dewey. She will be helping the Center Director, Dr. Krishna Kavi, and the Managing Director of the center, Mr. David Struble. Melanie’s primary duties are marketing the center and recruiting new companies for membership.

The semi-annual Industrial Advisory Board meeting of the NCSS I/UCRC was held at the Gateway Center on the UNT campus on October 14, 2015. The meeting was very successful with more than 50 attendees including current IAB members, potential industrial members, students, faculty and an NSF (National Science Foundation) evaluator. There were thirteen formal presentations, with several poster presentations included in the program. In addition, the meeting used video conferencing for the first time, which allowed participation by students and industry members from remote locations. Photos from the event can be found at the NCSS I/UCRC webpage.

David Hashe, a TAMS (Texas Academy of Mathematics and Sciences) student working with Dr. Kavi in the CSRL (Computer Systems Research Laboratory) was hired as a summer intern by AMD. He investigated how to make the gem5 computer architecture simulator more useful for simulating large computer systems and was successful at doing so. He was able to run workloads that are important for data centers and in high-performance computing, such as MPI (Message Passing Interface, a collection of software libraries that permit executing programs on a cluster of computers), and evaluate their performance. As a result, he has helped open up a new method for the simulation of large computer systems, which is important for research into the performance of such systems.

Mahzabeen Islam and Marko Scrbak, two PhD students from the CSRL are currently working at AMD as research associates. The work done at AMD will be directly applicable to their PhD research and AMD has permitted them to use results from their internship in their dissertations. Another PhD student of Dr. Kavi’s, Srujan Kotikela, has been interning at Armor (formerly FireHost). Armor provides highly secure data hosting operations. Srujan has been offered employment at Armor as soon as he finishes his doctoral studies.

Dr. Kavi will be traveling to Barcelona, Spain in November to attend the International Conference on Software Engineering Advances (ICSEA-2015). He is serving on the panel, "Quo Vadis Software Engineering?" While there, he will also present a paper: "Evaluation of a Security Service Level Agreement", co-authored with his former post-doctoral researcher, Dr. Chen-Yu Lee. Dr. Lee was at UNT until June 2015 and he is currently employed by Morgan Stanley in New York.

PhD student Charles Shelor will be traveling to Waikiki, Hawaii in early December to present a paper, "Dataflow processing-in-memory using coarse grained reconfigurable logic", at the 3rd Workshop on Near Data Processing, which is held in conjunction with MICRO-48 conference. The paper is co-authored with Dr. Kavi and another CSE graduate student, Shashank Adavally.

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CSE Alumni News

Alumni Focus on Greg Thurman

I graduated in 1998 with a B.S. in Computer Science.

My career would not have been possible without the firm foundation I received at UNT. I view education as an investment in oneself. Even today, 17 years later, I look back with very fond memories of roaming the UNT campus as a proud "Eagle"!

I began my journey at UNT as an undeclared freshman who soon discovered a passion for Engineering. This passion flourished through the power of networking within the UNT Computer Science community. Soon enough I found myself seated in a basic programming course titled "Assembly Language" taught by Don Retzlaff. I would gather that I am in good company when I say that Don Retzlaff’s real world approach to programming influenced my love for Information Technology then, and now.

The Computer Science degree has allowed me to reach exciting heights in my career. Immediately post-graduation I worked as a professional developer designing complex business applications in the County Government sector. What an amazing experience this was but I was ready to add more bullet points to the resume, so to speak. I found myself pouring every ounce of energy into my work and it undoubtedly paid off. But, let’s face it, hard work can be very rewarding but in my experience it was also somewhat of a sedentary lifestyle. Fast forward a few more years and I discovered a personal passion for health and wellness. I wanted to find a way to combine my newfound passion for exercise and my overall love for Information Technology into one. I figured there had to be a way to expand my IT skillset but not my waistline! Without hesitation, I moved on to serve as an IT Director in a well-loved Preventive Medicine Clinic in Dallas, TX. I can certainly say that these particular six years changed my life. I found my niche in the health field by way of utilizing my beloved Computer Science degree then and have not looked back.

My experience as an IT Director in a clinical setting led me to where I am today. I am currently, not to mention, proudly working for a major international healthcare laboratory as a Director of Clinical Information Systems. I am forever grateful that UNT CSE has paved the way for this phenomenal career journey.

I am proudly married and have three active children! My oldest son is 9, my middle son is 2 and my daughter is 1. Aside from physical fitness, my hobbies include playing classical guitar and public speaking.

We want to hear from you! What have you been doing since graduating from UNT? Please send a few paragraphs and a picture to

Recent Graduate Mayaria Johnson wins UNT award

Mayaria Johnson has won the Women Breaking Barriers Award which is an Eagle Award presented by the Multicultural Center to those who promote diversity within the UNT community. To honor Mayaria for her award, a brick with her name will be placed in the UNT Alumni Pavilion. Congratulations to Mayaria on her award!

Mayaria graduated in May 2015 with a B.S. in Computer Science. She is the former president of UNT SWE. She is now a Business Solutions Delivery Assistant Analyst at PepsiCo in the DFW area. For more information about the other students who won awards, please see this College of Engineering announcement.

The Importance of Alumni Support for UNT CSE

As stated above, sending so many of our students to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing would not have been possible without generous support from donors such as Fidelity Investments. Your support of our department is critical for such programs as sending young women to Grace Hopper, supporting our student organizations such as the Student Chapters of the ACM and IEEE Computer Society and Women in Computing, supporting scholarships for our outstanding freshmen as well as continuing students, and supporting our research programs, such as those described in the articles above. In recognition of UNT’s 125th anniversary, I encourage every supporter of our department to donate $125. For the recent Grace Hopper trip, this would have paid for the bus round-trip for a student or one night’s hotel room for two students. Eight alumni making such donations could make a $1,000 scholarship for a student. Two hundred alumni making such donations would create an endowment of $25,000 that could be used to create a perpetual scholarship fund. We are proud to have so many alumni who could help us in these endeavors. Every gift, no matter how small, is very important to us.

You may contribute to our department by visiting here and entering "Computer Science and Engineering" as your "Area of Support." You may further refine this to say "Grace Hopper," "Scholarships," "Research in area X," or whatever specific interest you have. We will invest your donations in the areas you wish to support. With your support, we can move our department to the next level!

Check out CSE alumni and faculty tailgating at the
College of Engineering Homecoming Party here.

Student News

CSE Database Students win DHISCO Big Data Challenge

Congratulations to Dr. Ryan Garlick’s students in CSCE 4350 Database Systems on winning the DHISCO Big Data Challenge held at UNT on November 12, 2015! The "SQL 6" team won the grand prize of $1500. Pictured (L to R) Sonali Surpur, Janet Sleiman, Connor Bey, Mary Omoyele, Austin Waters, course instructor Dr. Ryan Garlick, Courtney Cartwright (not pictured). The "Charlie’s Angels" team (Dan Biwer, Blake Miller, Charlie Pipes, and Michael Launius) received the award for best presentation, and had a great interactive website for diving into the data.

Students analyzed a very large real-world data set of hospitality and travel booking data and presented insights with some pretty amazing visualizations. Details about the contest are here.

CSE PhD student is runner-up in MLBAM + NYC Media Lab Challenge on Automated Video Annotation

Congratulations to CSE PhD student Abdullah Naseer Ahmed Saudagar on being the runner-up in the Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) automatic video annotation competition. Abdullah was notified of his success (and $3,000 prize) in May 2015 and the NYC Media Lab came to UNT in June to film this video that was just released in October. See the MLBAM + NYC Media Lab Challenge video here. Naseer is a PhD student of Dr. Bill Buckles. His co-advisor is Dr. Kamesh Namuduri of the Department of Electrical Engineering.

A description of the challenge from the video: "From radar technology to geometric data, MLB Advanced Media is at the forefront of experimenting with new technologies to extract insights and information from game play. In particular, the company is testing a wide range of technologies to improve its ability to capture and annotate video metadata. NYC Media Lab structured a competition that challenged faculty and students nationwide to use computer vision, video processing and machine learning research to automatically annotate video. The intent of the contest was to expose MLBAM’s compelling technological questions to potential new talent."

CSE Ph.D. Student wins Three Minute Thesis Competition

Congratulations to Garima Bajwa on winning the Toulouse Graduate School’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition held on November 21st at UNT! In this competition, nine graduate students had three minutes to explain their research and dissertation to a general audience. Garima presented her thesis "Neuro-Sign: NOT Just another Vital Sign".

3MT is not an exercise in trivializing or ’dumbing-down’ research, but challenges students to consolidate their ideas and research discoveries so they can be presented concisely to a non-specialist audience. The first 3MT competition was held in Australia at the University of Queensland in 2008. More than 200 universities worldwide now host competitions, including 40 in the U.S.

Garima won the first prize of $3,000 and will represent UNT at the regional competition, which is scheduled for the Southern Council of Graduate Schools annual conference in February. She is a Ph.D. student of Dr. Ram Dantu.

CSE Students attend National SWE Conference

UNT SWE students with CSE student Diana Pham on the far right.

CSE students Hollie King and Diana Pham attended the national conference of the Society of Women Engineers along with other members of UNT SWE October 21-24 in Nashville, TN. Eleven students from the College of Engineering attended SWE15. Many of the UNT SWE students received interviews with various companies including GM, Toyota, Kimberly Clark, Boston Scientific, and Honeywell.

CENG Associate Dean Nandika D’Souza attended the conference with UNT SWE and received her 2015 Distinguished Engineering Educator Award. Congratulations to Dr. D’Souza!

Read more about UNT SWE’s trip in this College of Engineering article.

College of Engineering News

Showcase of Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE)

CSE Student Jiaxuan Pang participated in SURE

CSE undergraduate student Jiaxuan Pang presented this poster "A New Transit Visualization System" in the College of Engineering’s Showcase of Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE) on November 6, 2015 at Discovery Park. Jiaxuan’s mentor on this project is CSE Professor Dr. Yan Huang.

SURE is a celebration of undergraduate research that allows faculty, industry representatives, other students, and guests to see first-hand the work of the College of Engineering students. SURE undergraduate participants displayed posters outlining their research projects and presented their findings in a professional manner.

For more information about SURE, please see this College of Engineering article.

CSE Alumna recognized by the College for her service

Etta Clark and Dean Costas Tsatsoulis

CSE Alumna Etta Clark (BS 1980) has been the Chair of the College of Engineering’s Industrial Advisory Board since 2011. She notified the Dean of the College that she would be retiring soon as Director of Information Technology at PepsiCo and would also retire from her Chair position on the IAB. Etta was awarded a memento of thanks for her service at the College at the IAB meeting on November 6.

Thank you Etta for your service to our College of Engineering!

For more information, go to this College of Engineering article.

University of North Texas News

UNT launches four institutes of Research Excellence

The University of North Texas launched four institutes of Research Excellence in October that will bring together a critical mass of knowledge and faculty collaborating on projects designed to create a stronger platform for interdisciplinary research and partnerships with industry to create solutions and further contribute to the North Texas region’s economic growth.

The institutes are:

For more information, please see this UNT news release.

UNT receives $1.9 million from alumnus Jerome M. Westheimer, Jr.

UNT alumnus Jerome M. Westheimer, Jr. will donate $1.9 million to UNT to support programs in the Mean Green Athletics golf program, the College of Music, the College of Visual Arts and Design, a commissioned sculpture by the late artist and UNT alumnus Jesus Moroles, and educational initiatives. See how his gifts will be divided in this UNT press release.

Westheimer remains an active supporter of UNT. He was recently honored as a Golden Eagle and will be inducted into the 2016 Athletics Hall of Fame class as a Fred McCain Honoree. He is a member of the President’s Leadership Board, The McConnell Society, the UNT Kuehne Speaker Series Steering Committee and is a lifetime member of the UNT Alumni Association.

For more information about giving opportunities at UNT, visit Giving to UNT online.

Read all the UNT News here.

The CSE Email Newsletter was assembled and produced by Genene Murphy and Don Retzlaff. It is a publication of the UNT Computer Science and Engineering Department. Contact the department at

Alumni gifts to the department make it possible to provide students with scholarships and travel to competitions and conferences. To support your CSE Department with a gift, please visit and select "Computer Science and Engineering" as the designation for your gift. UNT Computer Science and Engineering Department — November 2015