Awards 2022-2023

Student Awards

Galileo Circle Scholars, the University of Arizona's finest undergraduate and graduate science students, represent the tremendous breadth of research interests in the College of Science

Nimet Bozdag

Galileo Circle Scholar: Nimet (Beyza) Bozdag

Nimet Beyza Bozdag is a Junior pursuing a BS degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics. She is from Turkey and came to the University of Arizona for its great Computer Science program, undergraduate research opportunities, and scholarships for international students. Her passion for keeping up with the latest technology and contributing to its development led her to choose Computer Science as her major. As she progressed through her undergraduate studies, she developed a keen interest in AI and ML and declared a Mathematics major to strengthen her mathematical foundation. After completing her undergraduate degree, Beyza intends to pursue graduate studies. Currently, she is working part-time as an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Pauli Lab.   

As an active member of the Computer Science department, Beyza has taken on various roles such as being a TA for CSC 120 in Fall 2021, Course Coordinator for CSC 144 in Spring 2022, and a TA for CSC 245 in Summer 2022. Apart from these academic responsibilities, she has also been a CS Ambassador and currently, is a CS Buddies Program Mentor for this semester. Additionally, she is proud to serve as the Co-President of the Women in Information and Computer Science Club (WICS), contributing to creating a supportive community and empowering women in STEM.In her leisure time, Beyza engages in painting as a hobby, primarily working with oil paint. Additionally, she occasionally dabbles in photography. She enjoys reading, playing volleyball, and tennis, and spending time and going out with her friends.

Beyza has worked with Dr. Bethard in submitting the The 17th International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation, both papers that they submitted with her teammates have been accepted to the conference, they will be making final revisions. She is also currently working with Dr. Debray and Dr. Rahaman on Binary Attribution research. For this summer, Beyza is looking forward to an internship with Microsoft. She wants to be a Machine Learning Researcher in the industry.                

Paulo Soares

Galileo Circle Scholar: Paulo da Silva Soares

Paulo Soares is a fourth-year graduate student pursuing a PhD in Computer Science with a minor in Cognitive Science. From Brazil, Paulo chose UA because his advisor has expertise in one of his areas of interest. He completed his undergraduate studies at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, a city in the northeast of Brazil. 

He was a TA in his first semester as a PhD student and helped undergraduate students to succeed in the course. In Paulo’s research, he helps set up and conduct non-trivial in-lab experiments which produce a rich dataset of human behavior, benefiting not only the department but the scientific community as a whole. Paulo likes to do genealogical research. His research is focused on the use of Machine Learning to study human behavior. He skims through old documents to find information about his ancestors. Paulo focuses on two components of human interaction: the existence of false-beliefs and coordination as manifested by the causal linkage of different physio-behavioral modalities as people interact. Last year, Paulo worked as an intern for Pinterest in the Ads team, working with Machine Learning and statistical analysis. He will be returning this summer for another internship with them. Paulo would like to work with applied research to solve real-world problems using machine learning fundamentals. Paulo would like to thank his family, as they are always concerned about his well-being and are encouraging about pursuing his goals.      

Shahnawaz Mogal

Galileo Circle Scholar: Shahnawaz Mogal

Shahnawaz Mogal is a junior pursuing a BS in Computer Science. He is from Bahrain and  moved to Tucson in Fall 2021 for his sophomore year after completing his freshman year online. 

Shahnawaz choseThe University of Arizona for its strong reputation in research and innovation. He would be lying if he said that the weather and the beautiful campus didn't influence his decision! Shahnawaz has always been drawn to the idea of using technology to solve complex problems. He believes that Computer Science offers a unique opportunity to work on some of the biggest challenges facing our world today, from climate change to education. 

Last summer, he worked as a software engineer intern at Stripe. During his time there, he had the opportunity to work on some exciting projects, like building a real-time alerting system that helps to detect potential issues with payments. Prior to that, Shahnawaz was a software engineer intern for University of Arizona's OSIRIS-REx Space Mission team where heI worked on a new platform for data sharing. In addition to internships, he also worked as an undergraduate researcher with Professor Gus Hahn in the linguistics department to research machine learning methods for detecting false authorship claims in historical documents. While he is passionate about pursuing a career in software engineering, his long-term goal is to explore the intersection of computer science with other fields like arts and education. Shahnawaz believes that technology has the potential to transform the way we learn and experience the world, and he is interested in using the skills he picks up along the way to bridge these disciplines.

In his free time, Shahnawaz loves spending time outdoors and going on day-hikes with friends. He has a passion for art history and enjoys exploring art museums whenever possible. One of his favorite hobbies is cooking, and he loves to experiment with different recipes while listening to my favorite music. Shahnawas would like to recognize his friends in CS courses: Melanie, Jonathan, and Brandon! Their support and humor are both unparalleled :)

Muhtasim Al-Farabi

Galileo Circle Scholar: Muhtasim Al-Farabi    

Muhtasim Al-Farabi is a junior pursuing undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics. An international student from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Muhtasim chose to attend the UA because of the amazing financial aid provided and endless on-campus opportunities, such as research and internships. The UA also offered courses that aligned with his interests, as well as nurturing his technical and problem-solving skills. His inspiration to pursue CS came from always having a knack for solving real-world problems. In high school, Muhtasim’s various friends and classmates were into competitive programming and participated at the national level, inspiring him to learn to code. In addition to CS, Math has always been Muhtasim’s favorite subject in school. Since CS is closely related to Math, Muhtasim chose to major in both. 

Between Fall 2021 and Spring 2023, Muhtasim has been an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for CSC 110. In Spring 2023, he decided to challenge himself by becoming a TA for the upper-division course CSC 335. In Muhtasim’s sophomore year, he was an officer at the Video Game Developer’s Club. As TA and officer, Muhtasim has done his best to connect with prospective pre-CS and CS students, helping them as much as he can. Muhtasim has been speed-cubing for the last nine years, a community that has been life-changing for him. This hobby alone has helped Muhtasim travel abroad, meet the best of the best, and make meaningful connections. He loves to participate in and organize World Cube Association-sanctioned competitions, and hopes to host more in Tucson. Muhtasim also enjoys playing video games and watching esports, specifically from the FPS genre. Currently, 

Muhtasim is working as an Undergraduate Researcher at the School of Plant Science in Dr. Pauli’s lab. His primary job is to help develop and run pipelines on UA’s High Performance Computers that process data obtained using the world’s largest robotic field scanner. He has been working for Tech Core since 2021 and was promoted to Lead Software Developer summer of 2022. Muhtasim primarily worked on developing full-stack web applications using .NET, C#, SQL, and JavaScript. He had designed and coded "EllerMBAMatcher", an application pairing incoming MBA professionals with faculty and industry mentors of the Eller College of Management. Muhtasim also helped Tech Core's summer '22 interns with on-boarding, project setup, and bug fixing. He has also worked with Unity to develop VR applications for Biosphere 2 in 2021. Muhtasim’s goal is to work in the Software industry and become a Principal Engineer at a large tech company. His definition of success entails making a positive impact on millions of our company's customers. After that, he would like to build his own startup. In the summer of 2023, Muhtasim will be interning as an Associate Software Engineer with ServiceNow in San Diego. Muhtasim would like to thank Benjamin Dicken for being a great instructor and a mentor. 

Muhtasim would also like to acknowledge Ash Black and all of his friends at Tech Core for being the most helpful group of people, his parents for supporting him throughout the years, and most importantly his wife Tajeen for being with him through tough times. 

Rey Sanayei

Galileo Circle Scholar: Reza (Rey) Sanayei    

Reza (Rey) Sanayei is a senior pursuing a  BS in Computer Science with a minor in Statistics and Data Science. Rey is from Isfahan, Ira and he chose to attend UA because of the generous financial aid and the exciting research opportunities across the campus. He’s always had a passion for technology and computers, and he loves creating tools that make a positive impact on people's lives. That's why choosing CS as his major was an easy decision for him.    

Throughout his time at the university, Rey has been passionate about giving back to the community and serving in various roles to make a positive impact. Within the department, he began as a UGTA for CSC 210 and later became the Course Coordinator for CSC 335. These positions allowed him to help students navigate their coursework, understand challenging concepts, and develop a deeper appreciation for the field of Computer Science. Additionally, he has also been a mentor in our department's Buddy Mentor program, where he has had the opportunity to support and guide new students as they transition into university life. Rey has also been committed to serving the university as an undergraduate representative in our department head search committee. This role allowed him to work closely with other undergraduate members to ensure that the department was headed in the right direction and that the needs of the students were voiced. Beyond the department, Rey has also been actively involved in volunteering at the UA Campus Pantry. This organization provides essential resources to members of the university community who are struggling with food insecurity, and he has found it incredibly rewarding to give back in this way.

In his free time  Rey loves playing soccer, video games, and listening to a wide variety of music.    He is an undergraduate researcher at the Pauli Lab, where they utilize Machine Learning tools to analyze phenotypic variation in plant populations.    His long-term career goals revolve around pursuing further studies in Computer Science, with a particular focus on Machine Learning and the interdisciplinary advancement of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Computer Vision (CV). He is fascinated by the potential applications of these fields, and he believes that there is still a lot of untapped potential in terms of developing models that can process both visual and textual information. Ultimately, Ray’s goal is to apply his knowledge and skills towards creating his own startup that leverages these technologies to develop innovative solutions that can make a difference in people's lives.He is passionate about using technology to solve real-world problems and make an impact in society, and he believes that entrepreneurship offers a unique opportunity to do so.

Rey is  incredibly grateful for the support and inspiration he’s received from several individuals during his time at the university. First and foremost, he’d like to recognize Dr. Claveau, Dr. Surdeanu, and Prof. Dicken for their unwavering support, guidance, and mentorship. Their passion for computer science has been contagious, and they have inspired him to push himself to achieve his full potential. He would also like to acknowledge Martin Marquez for his tireless efforts in creating amazing events and programs for all the students in the department. Martin's dedication to fostering a sense of community within the department has made a significant impact on his overall university experience. Lastly, Ray wants to extend his appreciation to all of his colleagues and friends in the department. They have been amazing peers, offering support and encouragement when he needed it most. Their diverse perspectives and experiences have challenged him to grow both personally and academically, and his fortunate to have such a fantastic group of people by his side.

Portia Cooper

Galileo Circle Scholar: Portia Cooper

Portia Cooper is a freshman pursuing a BS in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics. A Tucson native, Portia chose the UA because it offers incredible research opportunities for undergraduate students. The UArizona Girls Who Code program helped Portia begin her involvement with CS, beginning by learning to code at the Main Library on Saturdays when she was 12 and continuing through middle school. As of now, Portia is a Lead Facilitator, providing computer science instruction to 6th-12th graders. In 2023, the club is operating at full capacity with the largest cohort ever–25 students, showing more than 100% growth from 2022, driven by increased recruitment and retention. 
In her free time Portia loves thrifting, hiking, and eating at La Estrella Bakery. Portia works with Dr. Mihai Surdeanu and Dr. Eduardo Blanco to develop neural classifiers to detect hate speech masked by homoglyphs (visually similar Unicode characters). Portia hopes to get a PhD in Computer Science and spend her career developing intelligent systems. 

Tuguy Bilgis

Galileo Circle Scholar: Tuguy Bilgis

Tuguy Bilgis is a Junior pursuing BS degrees in Computer Science and in Mathematics. Tuguy is from Ankara, Turkey, but he attended high school in South Carolina before coming here. He chose to attend University of Arizona because of its highly ranked CS program as well as the opportunities it provides for undergrad research. The generous amount of merit scholarship that he received was also an important factor in his decision. He chose CS because he was fascinated by AI/ML in highschool and wanted to go into a field where he could explore it. In his free time Tuguys enjoys hiking in the mountains surrounding Tucson as well the other cool mountains of Arizona. He also likes reading, playing soccer, and spending time with his friends.      

Tuguy has been an undergrad TA for CSC 120 in Fall 2021, CSC 144 in Spring 2022, and he  is currently an UGTA for CSC 380. He was also a Tech Lead for the Google Developer Student Club for the previous academic year (2021-2022). He  is currently working with Dr. Steven Bethard  from the ISTA department on Clickbait Spoiling and Tweet Intimacy Analysis tasks of The 17th International Workshop in Semantic Evaluation. They submitted their papers recently along with his teammates and both have been accepted after peer review. They will submit the final paper soon. Tuguy is also working with Dr. Saumya Debray and Dr. Sazzadur Rahaman on Binary Stylometry project, in which they are doing a replication study of a previous work done by other researchers and explore how they can improve it. Aside from research, Tugay has accepted a software development engineer internship offer from Amazon for this summer in Seattle, WA. His ultimate goal is to become a researcher in the fields of ML/AI and NLP, preferably working in the industry. Tuguy wants to pursue a PHD right after he finishes his undergrad and that is what he is working on currently.    

Ali Sartaz Khan

Lund Wolfe Scholarship: Ali Sartaz Khan

Ali Sartaz Khan is a junior pursuing a BS degree in Computer science. 





Adi Banerjee

Excellence in Undergraduate Research: Adi Banerjee

Adi Banerjee is a senior pursuing a BS in Computer Science with a minor in Statistics and Data Science. Raised in Mumbai, India, Adi chose to attend the University of Arizona because of the university’s generous financial aid and Arizona’s potential as a tech hub. Adi enjoys using math to solve real world problems in creative ways and his interest in CS largely stems from that fascination with Math. He especially enjoys working on graph problems. Adi took the initiative to establish the UA Google Developer Student Club (GDSC) with the aim of fostering a stronger sense of community within the Computer Science department. The club organizes various networking events and workshops to make it easier for students to access industry-standard tools and resources.

In addition to founding the GDSC, Adi was also actively involved in assisting students in securing internships at Eller Tech Core as a way to gain real-world experience and connect them with Eller students who have exciting business ideas. Adi finds great satisfaction to be able to help his fellow students in these ways, and is excited to continue doing so. In Adi’s free time, he enjoys playing video games, learning music and exploring new places with his friends.    Starting in the fall of 2019, Adi began working as an undergraduate researcher at IVILab on an exciting project called ToMCAT (Theory of Mind-based Cognitive Architecture for Teams). The goal of the project is to create a socially aware AI agent. During Adi’s time on the project, he has contributed in several ways, such as developing data collection infrastructure in Minecraft and on lab machines to gather data from human participants. However, his most significant contribution was creating an open-source procedural generation library, which earned me two consecutive Galileo Circle Awards from the University of Arizona's College of Science.

Currently, Adi is working on a new project called SKEMA (Scientific Knowledge Extraction, Modeling, and Analysis). The project's aim is to develop a framework for machine-assisted knowledge discovery, curation, and modeling.

Last summer, Adi interned as an SDE with Amazon in Seattle. He designed and deployed a full-stack tool for internal stakeholders in the global supply chain space. After Adi graduates, he plans to return to work with Amazon. His goal is to gain experience in the industry for 2-3 years before pursuing a PhD in Computer Science or Math. Adi is interested in specializing in graph theory and reinforcement learning for his PhD. Adi would like to recognize Dr. Adarsh Pyarelal and  Dr. Kobus Barnard for being amazing mentors during his time at the UA.     

Caroline Hyland

Outstanding Graduating Senior (Spring 2023): Caroline Hyland

Caroline Hyland is a senior pursuing a BS in Computer Science and a BA in Spanish, with minors in Molecular and Cellular Biology, as well as World Literature. From Phoenix, AZ, Caroline chose Computer Science after taking a required CS class in high school and being surprised by how much she enjoyed it. As for choosing a university, she definitely took a long time making my decision, but, after receiving a scholarship to the in-state, public universities in Arizona, Caroline decided to stay in-state.  Once she made that decision, choosing the University of Arizona was an easy choice to make.  Caroline felt at home here, and she loved the sense of community on campus.  (She also happens to be a third generation UA Wildcat!) Caroline has enjoyed the opportunity to interact with potential new wildcats and share her experiences as an Arizona Ambassador (a university-wide campus tour guide), a College of Science Ambassador, and a Computer Science Ambassador.  She has also been able to serve as the undergraduate representative on the department head search committee for Computer Science the last two years.  Overall, though, one of Caroline’s favorite experiences as an undergraduate has been working as a teaching assistant and course coordinator in the Computer Science department.  Over the last four years, she has served in this role seven times for some of her favorite classes in the department: CSC 144, CSC 244, CSC 245, and CSC 473.

In her free time, she loves to read, needlepoint, and watch movies.  Caroline also loves spending time with her friends and her sorority sisters in Phi Sigma Rho, and she is a huge fan of Arizona basketball. During summer 2022, Caroline worked as a software engineering intern for Honeywell Aerospace. Then, during summer 2023, she participated in SUPER (Stuttgart University Program for Experiencing Research), where she worked at the High Performance Computing Center (HLRS) at the University of Stuttgart in Germany as part of their Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab.  At the University of Arizona, Caroline has participated in a variety of research projects, first with Dr. Gniady and Dr. Kececioglu, and currently with Dr. Surdeanu. After completing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Taiwan next year, Caroline plans to return to the University of Arizona to pursue a PhD in Computer Science with the hope of working as a university professor in computer science in the future. Caroline has received support from so many Computer Science faculty and staff members, but she would especially like to thank Dr. Surdeanu, Dr. McCann, Dr. Lowenthal, Dr. Anson, and Martin Marquez.

Rebekah Julicher

Outstanding Graduating Senior (Fall 2022): Rebekah Julicher

Rebekah Julicher graduated in the Fall 2022 and received a BS degree in Computer Science with a minor in ISTA. She is from Arizona and lived most of her life in Maricopa until her family chose to move to Tucson. UA was close, had a decent reputation, and would automatically transfer in her community college credits, so she chose it primarily out of convenience and cost-efficiency. It also allowed her  to save money by living at home with family in Vail and commuting to classes. CS and computer engineering is something Rebekah grew up around, her dad is a computer engineer and had her do seven years of competitive robotics as a kid. It’s familiar, pays well, and it meshes well with her more creative interests, so the CS major was one of the easiest decisions she’s made in her academic career.    

Rebekah was a TA for CSC335 for the spring and fall 2022 semesters, and these days she volunteers as a choir violinist in her local community. Before moving to Tucson, she has done things like service projects with various scouting organizations, donation of custom laser-etched signage and engraving to various organizations, and library-based community outreach and volunteer work. In her free time, Rebekah makes artwork for traditional, digital, and laser mediums, plays entirely too many video games, and reads obsessively. Aside from those main things, she also plays violin and piano and occasionally teaches them to younger siblings when sheI has time. She has a lot of much more minor hobbies that she dabbles in as well, but it might not be worth listing them all here.    

Rebekah had an internship in Business Applications for about a year at Tucson Electric Power, and was a firmware engineering intern at Rain Bird (the company’s first intern!). Rebekah plans to get her Masters in HCI first thing after this, but after accomplishing that, she would really like to get involved with something related to simulation development. There’s a lot happening in the world of VR and AR, and she finds it all incredibly interesting. That’s the ultimate goal, but more generally she’ll be happy so long as she can do anything that involves adding some visual creativity to my work.    
Rebekah would like to acknowledge her sister Deborah, for putting up with her night-owl homework and voice chat sessions while she’s trying to sleep.    

Robert Vacareanu

Outstanding Graduate Scholarship: Robert Vacareanu

Robert Vacareanu is a 3rd year graduate student Pursuing a PhD  in Computer Science with a minor in Cognitive Science. Robert was born and raised in Romania, where he completed his Bachelor's studies in Computer Science at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca. He was fortunate enough to do a research internship at UA in 2019, which convinced him to pursue a PhD.    
Robert has been involved in University Outreach efforts. For example, he prepared and presented an engaging AI demo to high school students who were interested in Computer Science. Additionally, as a senior PhD student, he has provided mentorship to new students who joined his lab, helping them with their research and adapting to the academic environment.    Outside school Robert likes to do physical activities: gym and various outdoor activities.He is also an avid reader.    
Robert interned at Amazon NYC in Summer 2022; an  internship resulting in two research papers. He will intern again there in Summer 2023.    His career goal is to leverage AI to benefit society and enable its application across multiple fields. While he is still exploring his options, he is considering both industry and academia.    

Kartikey Shukla

Outstanding Graduate Teaching: Kartikey Shukla  

Kartikey Shukla is pursuing a graduate degree in Computer Science. He received his Bachelors in Computer Science and Engineering from Amity University, India, and represented his university and nation in an international student exchange program in Japan. Later, he completed a semester abroad in London, UK. After working as a Software Developer in India, Kartikey pursued his Graduate degree from the University of Arizona, where he interacted with brilliant professors and students. Today, he is a highly skilled and motivated professional always looking for new challenges in the field. 

Kartikey has received positive feedback from students on course evaluations, indicating high levels of engagement, learning, and satisfaction. He worked closely with faculty to develop and refine learning objectives, assignments, and exams, ensuring alignment with University of Arizona standards and emerging trends. Kartikey also implemented QueueBot for office hour sessions, resulting in an increase in the number of students served per session and in student engagement, as well as reduction in missed appointments.
Kartikey was awarded the TA of the Month April, 2022 by Prof. Benjamin Dicken, department of Computer Science, University of Arizona. He has always performed his duties with diligence and has gone above and beyond for the betterment of our CS Department.

Kartikey enjoys traveling, Hackathons, hiking, swimming, badminton and exploring just to name a few. He worked as a Junior Software Developer Intern and Data Science Intern during the summer of 2022. Kartikey has experience with research in the field of NLP and cybersecurity as well. His career goal is to be an entrepreneur by starting his own tech company or venture, pursuing innovative ideas and building a successful business.

Staff Award

Martin Marquez Awardee

Martin Marquez

 Martin joined the Department of Computer Science in February 2020. Prior to his role as Director of Academic and Support Services, he worked in the Office of Curricular Affairs as Interim Director and in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as Senior Academic Advisor. He have previously taught 8th grade science at Crane Middle School and Biology at Gila Ridge High School in Yuma, Arizona. Martin earned a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona and an MEd in Educational Administration and Supervision from Arizona State University. 

Martin's primary role in the department is to lead and supervise the Academic Services Office. He is responsible for setting strategic goals and initiatives for Academic Services and Information Technology Offices, ensuring that needs and priorities of students, faculty, and staff are being met. He enjoy meeting with and interviewing students, faculty, and staff. Among his many responsibilities, one of of his favorites is telling the stories of the CSC department so others can learn about the great people of the department. 

Martin was chosen for this award for being an exceptional role model in the department and for doing above and beyond what is expected from his role as the Director of Academic Support Service

 Faculty Awards

Faculty Teaching Award: TBD


Faculty Research Award: TBD


Faculty Service Awards: TBD


Distinguished Scholar Award 

Distinguished Scholars Award are granted to three outstanding recently tenured and mid-career faculty who are making transformative contributions to their disciplines and to our purpose, mission and values. Candidates are judged on the evidences of their national/international recognitions. 

Mihai Surdeanu Headshot

Distinguished Scholar: Mihai Surdeanu

Mihai is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and chosen for this award for being an invaluable member of the department and an academic who embodies the University’s values of integrity, exploration, and inclusion.

He co-started (with Prof. Saumya Debray) a club of CS UA professors and high school teachers to discuss and understand what happens with the drop in diversity from high school to college and how to mitigate that. Mihai collaborates extensively with colleagues across the university and also international and nationally when it comes to NLP Research!  

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) Awards

Award to recognize Individuals that have provided outstanding service to the department towards DEI initiatives. 

Student DEI Award: Katy Williams


Faculty DEI Award: TBD