Announcements Honors the Six Winners of the ACM Student Research Competition at GHC 19

During the Closing Keynote at the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC 19), honored the six winners of the ACM Student Research Competition (ACM SRC). ACM SRC is an internationally recognized contest where undergraduate and graduate students present their original research at technical conferences around the world. The Grace Hopper Celebration Poster Committee selected 25 students out of 117 applications to participate in this competition at GHC 19. A panel of judges then selected three undergraduate students and three graduate students as the winners, all of whom received a cash prize and a medal from ACM for their incredible work. The first place undergraduate student and first place graduate student will also advance to the ACM SRC Grand Finals to be held in 2020.

“We are proud to recognize the GHC 19 ACM Student Research Competition winners here today,” announced Jodi Tims, Chair of ACM-W, the organization’s Council on Women in Computing, during the GHC 19 Closing Keynote. Learn more about the six winners and their research:

Undergraduate Winners

Ana Luisa Solórzano1st place – Ana Luisa Solórzano, Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Brazil
Poster Title: Parallel Implementation of an Astronomical Algorithm for a Hybrid Computing Environment with OpenACC

To improve the performance of an algorithm in astronomy, Ana used a parallelization approach to harness the computing power of a modern hardware accelerator. For her amazing work, Ana took home the top prize for undergraduate research. “I am happy not only for the recognition of my research, but also for having the opportunity to receive feedback from the greatest researchers,” Ana told us, adding that she was grateful for the opportunity to show the strength of the work being developed in her country (Brazil). She encourages other women to submit their research projects and present their posters at GHC 20, noting that it is a wonderful confidence builder. “I’m believing more in myself, and that my efforts are bringing great results,” she told us.

Aishwarya Mandyam2nd place – Aishwarya Mandyam, University of Washington – Seattle
Poster Title: Reducing tag identification time in a molecular tagging system

A molecular tagging system with DNA based tags can provide a secure identifier, but accurately identifying DNA molbits (unique DNA sequences) can take up time. To solve this problem, Aishwarya created an error analysis pipeline that quantifies the minimum subset of reads on a MinION Nanopore sequencer necessary to produce a similar identification error rate as the entire set. When asked about winning the GHC 19 ACM SRC, Aishwarya told us she felt more confident about her current research as well as future projects in this area.

Jhillika Kumar3rd place – Jhillika Kumar, Georgia Institute of Technology
Poster Title: Interactive Communicative Technology demonstrating Cognition in Non-speaking Autistic Individuals

Jhillika’s project demonstrates cognitive competence in non-speaking autistic individuals through tracking progression of eye-gaze. The inspiration behind Jhillika’s project is her brother, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old. “He has never spoken a word in his life,” she explains. By monitoring cognitive arousal, Jhillika’s study provides a quantitative examination of therapeutic techniques to improve communicative speech.

Graduate Winners

Paria Esmatloo1st place – Paria Esmatloo, University of Texas at Austin
Poster Title: Towards Human-like Grasping and Manipulation in Assisted Grasps Through Accurate System Modeling

With her research, Paria is trying to improve control of assistive devices to enable people with hand disabilities to become independent in their daily activities. She reveals being extremely grateful for the opportunity to experience the “positive and uplifting” GHC atmosphere. “During the poster session,” she explained, “I got to chat with people with diverse backgrounds and see my work through their perspective. The feedback I received from individuals outside of my field will help me guide and expand my research in new exciting directions.”

Maryam Karimi2nd place – Maryam Karimi, University of Pittsburgh
Poster Title: On Hierarchical Data Integrity for IoT Devices in Connected Health Applications

Maryam’s work aims to provide a fast and efficient method to verify the integrity of data which is gathered from multiple resources and is stored in multiple untrustworthy cloud servers. Maryam revealed that she has received great feedback from diverse, brilliant, and powerful people in STEM. “They were interested in getting more information about my research and in actually seeing it being used in the near future,” she proudly asserted. “I wish everybody could have the empowering experience of GHC. It made me more ambitious and it motivated me to work harder to improve and expand my research to the next level.”

Nwamaka Okafor3rd place – Nwamaka Okafor, University College Dublin, Ireland
Poster Title: A Cost-effective framework for IoT-based autonomous ecological sensing

Nwamaka is trying to implement low-cost IoT-based environmental monitoring devices specifically directed towards monitoring the peatland areas. She was excited to share her research with such a large and diverse community of women technologists, and became inspired to further explore and break new scientific grounds. With a smile, she admitted, “I felt on top of the world being called up to the main stage at GHC 19 as one of the winners of the prestigious ACM Student Research Competition, in front of thousands of attendees and many others streaming online!”


Congratulations to all our winners! We wish Paria and Ana Luisa the best of luck as they move on to the ACM SRC finals in 2020.