2021 Undergraduate Awards

Class of 2021

Congratulations to all recipients of the 2021 undergraduate student awards.

Alex Vasilos Memorial Award 

Friends and colleagues of the late Alex Vasilos donated the Alex Vasilos Memorial Award to the Department of Computer Science to recognize graduating seniors in computer science for excellence in computer science research. This year's recipients:

  • Xiaochen Du
    For outstanding research contributions in the area of cryo-EM, specifically by developing and implementing algorithms to maximize the extraction of high-resolution information while mitigating the detrimental effects of electron radiation on biological specimens.
  • Lavonne Hoang
    For creative and outstanding research in FinTech and Machine Learning by proposing a novel Bayesian multi-armed bandit framework for financial portfolio optimization, combining statistical and computational approaches.
  • Liang “Charles” Lyu
    For outstanding research in multiple areas relating to fairness and scaling in Machine Learning and Natural Language Understanding. These include theoretical and practical approaches to fairness in urban planning and in civil discourse in online discussion platforms.
  • Yikai Wu
    For outstanding research contributions in several areas grounded in theoretical contributions to both differential privacy and machine learning. These include deep insights into the mathematical frameworks of neural networks and for multi-agent differentially private systems.
  • Barbara Xiong
    For outstanding research contributions in classifying images of white blood cells by developing heuristic approaches that can incorporate accumulated diagnostic experience and clinical knowledge, that are interpretable, and that can exceed the performance of deep learning methods.

DeNardis Memorial Award 

Family, friends and colleagues of the late Rebecca DeNardis donated the Rebecca DeNardis Memorial Award to the Department of Computer Science to recognize graduating seniors in computer science for excellence in supporting the undergraduate program. This year's recipients:

  • Liang “Charles” Lyu
    For outstanding contributions, exemplary leadership, and dedication to the undergraduate program as an undergraduate teaching assistant for Compsci 201 and 330, including contributing to the auto-grading framework used by over 2,000 students during the time he was the head UTA for Compsci 201, and for sharing his enthusiasm and demeanor with the other UTAs with whom he worked.
  • Anshul Shah
    For outstanding contributions and leadership as an undergraduate teaching assistant and Head UTA for Compsci 101 for several years and  more recently  UTA for CompSci 216, and for contributing toward computer science education research by developing the CS101 Reviewer App to provide students with extra practice on understanding concepts in Compsci 101.

Undergraduate Senior Thesis Projects 

Graduation with Distinction is awarded to students who complete a substantial project that consists of at least one year's work, including an independent study under the guidance of a faculty member. The project represents a significant intellectual endeavor and requires a presentation made to a committee of three faculty members.

Graduation with Highest Distinction

Lavonne Hoang Advisor: Rebecca Steorts – "Adaptive Risk-Aware Multi-Armed Bandits for High-Dimensional Portfolio Optimization”

Barbara Xiong Advisor: Sandeep Dave – “Heuristics-Inspired Machine Learning for Leukemia Cell Classification”


Duke Computer Science students who graduated with undergraduate awards and distinction: