Celebrating our Achievements

November 1, 2021

The Hajim School is proud to recognize these recent achievements of its faculty members, staff, students, and alumni. They exemplify the University of Rochester motto: Meliora—ever better!


photos of recipients

Radha Bahukutumbi, distinguished scientist in the Theory Division at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, received the Fusion Power Associates (FPA) 2021 Leadership Award.

Thomas Brown, professor and interim director at The Institute of Optics, is a recipient of the Mercer Brugler Distinguished Teaching Professorship.

Mujdat Cetin, professor of electrical and computer engineering and the Robin and Tim Wentworth Director of the Goergen Institute for Data Science, was appointed as the next editor-in-chief of the journal IEEE Transactions on Computational Imaging.

 Jiebo Luo, professor of computer science, received the 2021 Award for Outstanding Technical Contributions to Multimedia Computing, Communications and Applications from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Multimedia (SIGMM).

photos of recipients

Andrea Pickel, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received a Furth Fund award from the Provost’s Office.

Gaurav Sharma, professor of electrical and computer engineering, received the 2021 Raymond C. Bowman Award from the Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T).

Brian J. Thompson is the inaugural recipient of RRPC’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Brian is an emeritus professor and a former director of The Institute of Optics, dean of engineering and applied sciences, and provost.

Chenliang Xu, assistant professor of computer science, has received a James P. Wilmot Distinguished Assistant Professorship.


See our annual Commencement awards page for additional Hajim School and Departmental undergraduate awards.

portraits of students

Caden Cole '22 of computer science, a linebacker on the football team, is a Garnish Scholar-Athlete Award recipient.

Kathryn Colone ’21 of biomedical engineering received the Athletic Leadership Award for contributing to campus life and demonstrating leadership within her sport. 

Will Eisold '22 of optics, a member of the men’s soccer team, is a Garnish Scholar-Athlete Award recipient.

Jarod Forer ’22 of mechanical engineering and a member of the track team is a Provost Circle Scholar.

portraits of students

Madison Lang ’22 of biomedical engineering was awarded a 2021 Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) award, known as an “Astronaut Scholarship.”

Bochen Li, a recent PhD graduate from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received an AS&E 2020-2021 Outstanding Dissertation Award for his thesis, Multi-modal analysis for music performance.

Yuxuan Liu, a PhD candidate in the research group of Jannick Rolland, the Brian J. Thompson Professor of Optical Engineering and director of the Center for Freeform Optics, was cowinner of the  Synopsys 2021 Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition for “A Freeform Hyperspectral Imager Design within CubeSat Format.”

Kudzai Mbinda '22 of chemical engineering, a sprinter in track and field, is a Garnish Scholar-Athlete Award recipient.

portraits of students

Paul Mitchell, PhD student in the Auditory Neuroscience Lab of Laurel Carney, the Marylou Ingram Professor of Biomedical Engineering, received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award individual fellowship–totaling $92,000 over two years–from the National Institutes of Health.

Thien Hung Nguyen ’22 (T5) of chemical engineering received a DAAD-RISE internship at Jülich Research Center to study “Materials Synthesis and Processing Advanced Li Metal Anodes for All-Solid-State Batteries.”

Maria Plessia ’22 of mechanical engineering received a DAAD RISE internship at the Institute of Lightweight Engineering and Polymer Technology at Dresden Institute of Technology to study “Fatigue Characterization by Means of AI Methods of Advanced Composites for Aircraft Application.”

Aditya Raghunandan, a postdoctoral research associate in the Mixing Lab of Douglas Kelley, associate professor of mechanical engineering, won first place and $1,000 at this year’s competition for the Steadman Family Postdoctoral Associate Prize in Interdisciplinary Research.

portraits of students

Jacob Sacks ’22 optics, was cowinner of the Synopsys 2021 Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition for “Cat-Car-Cam: A Panoramic Objective for Videography in F1 Racing.”

Emma Schechter '22 of data science, who plays soccer, is a Garnish Scholar-Athlete Award recipient and a Provost Circle Scholar.

Savannah Schisler ’22, a double major in mechanical engineering and in physics and astronomy, received the Transfer Student Award.

Hristijan Stojkovic ’22 of optical engineering received a DAAD-RISE internship at Humboldt University of Berlin's Institute of Physics to study “Building an Ultra-Cold Atom Machine as a Ground Test Bed for Space Missions.”

portraits of students

Amanda Strenk '22 of chemical engineering, a member of the field hockey team, is a Garnish Scholar-Athlete Award recipient.

Kendra Watson ’22 of chemical engineering, a member of the track team, is a Provost Circle Scholar.

Miguel Yakouma ’23, a biomedical engineering major from Bangui, Central African Republic, received a  Davis Projects for Peace  grant.

Songyang Zhang, PhD student in computer science, won Best Long Paper award at the virtual 2021 Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics for Video-aided Unsupervised Grammar Induction.

In addition:

Jenna Diamico ’22 of geomechanics received a DAAD-RISE internship at the Jülich Institute of Energy and Climate Research. Project: “Statistical Analysis of Gravity Wave Propagation.”

Jason Hahn ’23 of optical engineering received a US Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study Russian. Read more here.


photos of recipients

Electrical engineering alumnus Darren Brock '90 '94 (MS) '97 (PhD), now a principal research engineer at Lockheed Martin Corporation, was listed among 23 of the “best minds in the world”  who are leading quantum tech programs and initiatives at major corporations.

Optics alumna Cristina Canavesi '13 (MS TEAM) '14 (PhD) '15 (MBA), the co-founder and president of LighTopTech, has been named one of 50 inspiring women in Italy by accelerateHER.

Electrical engineering alumnus John McNeill ’91 (MS) was named the Bernard M. Gordon Dean of Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

Scott Pomerantz ’81 ’83 (MBA), a member of our Dean’s Advisory Committee, has been named CEO of FocalPoint Inc., a company that develops new technologies to transform the capability of global navigation satellitesystems (GNSS) worldwide.

photos of recipients

Institute of Optics alumna Christy Sheehy ’07 '10 (MS), was selected for  NASDAQ’s 2021 Milestone Makers, a group of early-to-mid stage founders selected to receive individualized business mentoring, coaching, training, and resources to help their companies meet some of the world’s biggest problems.

Computer science alumna Amanda Stent ’01 (PhD) has been named the inaugural director of the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence at Colby College, one of the nation’s oldest liberal arts colleges.

Alexis Vogt ’00 ’08 (PhD) of optics, the Endowed Chair and Professor of Optics at Monroe Community College, received the RRPC Leadership Award.

Institute of Optics alumnus James Wyant ’67 (MS) ’69 (PhD) received an honorary doctorate from the University.

In addition:

More than half of this year’s University of Rochester recipients of prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships  are current or recent Hajim School students. The fellowships provide up to three years of support for outstanding US students pursuing doctoral or research-based degrees in STEM, STEM education, and social science fields. Congratulations to:

  • Garrett Beals ’21 optical engineering, pursuing a PhD in applied physics at Columbia University.
  • Ethan Fahnestock ’21, dual major in robotics engineering (interdepartmental engineering) and in physics and astronomy, who will attend MIT.
  • Amanda Hornick ’19 biomedical engineering, pursuing a PhD at Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology.
  • Nathaniel Silvia '19 biomedical engineering, pursuing a PhD in bioengineering at Northeastern University.
  • Michael Anthony Taylor ’20 optical engineering, currently pursuing his PhD in optics here.
  • Daniel Troyetsky ’21 mechanical engineering, pursuing a PhD at Stanford University.
  • Sabrina Westgate ’19 chemical engineering, pursuing a PhD at Georgia Institute of Technology.
  • Haley Wohlever ’19 mechanical engineering, pursuing a PhD at University of California, Berkeley.