Four Recognized with NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

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Four CSE graduate students have been recognized with graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation: Forest Agostinelli, Meghan Clark, Branden Ghena, and Elizabeth Mamantov.

Forest Agostinelli has worked with Prof. Honglak Lee in the Artificial Intelligence Lab on multi-column neural networks and published his work, "Adaptive Multi-Column Deep Neural Networks for Robust Image Denoising," in the conference proceedings of Advancements in Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS). His research won second place at the University of Michigan Graduate Symposium. He has also had the opportunity to work with John Laird, the John L. Tishman Professor of Engineering, on cognitive architectures and deep learning.

In addition to research, Forest has enjoyed volunteering with Prof. Chinedum Okwudire to do engineering outreach activities with middle school children. He has also enjoyed participating in theLunch and Lab with a Grad mentoring program, in which undergraduate students learn from graduate students about the timeline for graduate school preparation and the activities that are offered during the undergraduate years to aid in the process.

Meghan Clark works with Prof. Prabal Dutta in Lab 11, the the Embedded Systems Lab in CSE. Her research interests lie in the areas of embedded systems, ubiquitous computing, and the smart grid. She is currently working on Monjolo, an energy-harvesting energy meter that draws zero-power under zero-load conditions and more efficiently measures load consumptions.

Meghan intends to continue to explore the potential for embedded systems to enable major advancements in quality of life and environmental interactions. In particular, she sees opportunities for impact in remote health and science in developing regions, responsive and energy-efficient buildings, and networks that are quick and cheap to deploy in areas with limited Internet connectivity. Additionally, as sensor-based applications become more and more integrated with our lives, she would like to investigate ways of providing useful sensor-based services while preserving privacy.

Branden Ghena works with Prof. Prabal Dutta in Lab 11, the the Embedded Systems Lab in CSE. His current project is SensEye, a platform for low-power wearable gaze detection, allowing people and computers to interact in new ways. As a member of the embedded systems lab, Branden is excited to participate in creating Internet of Things devices that are useful and usable.

Before coming to Ann Arbor, Branden was an undergraduate student at Michigan Tech. There he led a team which created the computer hardware and software for the Oculus-ASR satellite, which is scheduled to launch in 2016. He also spent two summers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on future satellite computer systems.

Elizabeth Mamantov's research interests are in embodied cognition, robotics, and cognitive architecture, and she is currently working with John Laird, the John L. Tishman Professor of Engineering, in the Soar Research Group. The goal of her research is to equip robots with the cognitive skills they need to handle real-world environments in an intelligent, human-like fashion, and her current focus is on using the Soar cognitive architecture to intelligently control robot motion.

According to Elizabeth, "It is fascinating that, despite years of AI research, robots are consistently confounded when confronted with the complexities of the real world. I am interested in leveraging the reasoning powers of a cognitive architecture to improve the way an embodied agent interacts with its environment."

Elizabeth came to Michigan in Fall 2013, after earning her BA in Computer Science at Bowdoin College, where her honors thesis was "Cognitive visuo-spatial reasoning for robotic soccer agents." While at Bowdoin, she was a member of Bowdoin's RoboCup soccer team from fall 2010 to summer 2013 and served as code boss in the 2012-2013 competition cycle.


The National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. 

Posted: April 8, 2014