Two CS students were selected by the Computing Research Association (CRA) for the 2024 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award for their exemplary dedication to research and academic excellence, earning them a well-deserved commendation. The honorees, Eleanor Lin and Walter McKelvie, have exhibited exceptional skills and commitment in their respective areas of focus within computer science.
Eleanor Lin (CC ‘24), distinguished herself through groundbreaking research with the Spoken Language Processing Group, where she is advised by Professor Julia Hirschberg. Her work as the lead researcher on the Switchboard Dialogue Act Re-alignment project has showcased innovation and contributed significantly to updating the corpus used to identify regional differences in U. S. speakers–extremely important for Automatic Speech Recognition, particularly in telephony. Eleanor made substantial contributions to multiple Speech Lab projects while concurrently serving as a teaching assistant for computer science and linguistics. She also collaborated with researchers from Rice University, the University of Southern California, and Teacher’s College.
Walter McKelvie (SEAS ‘24), earned an honorable mention for their remarkable work in theoretical computer science and cryptography. He worked with Professor Tal Malkin and the Crypto Lab on fixing a problem with proof-of-stake blockchains, making a secret leader election “accountable” so that leaders cannot anonymously refuse to publish a block. His dedication to pushing the boundaries of understanding in this field has been commendable, and he greatly contributed to the research by coming up with one of the three paradigms included in the paper and writing several of the technical parts in the paper. McKelvie additionally served as a teaching assistant and collaborated with researchers from Purdue and Harvard.
The honorable mentions serve as a testament to the vibrant research community of the department, where students are encouraged to explore and excel in their chosen fields. Julia Hirschberg, the Percy K. and Vida L. W. Hudson Professor of Computer Science, assembles a team of 15 undergrads with different skills to work on the Speech Lab’s projects. Students can work on data collection and annotation, building large language models (LLMs), or both. Professor Tal Malkin typically has one or two undergraduate students who work on cryptography research. Students need to have mathematical maturity; ideally, they should have taken Malkin’s graduate-level Introduction to Cryptography class.
These recognitions also highlight the department’s commitment to providing students with a robust academic environment that encourages curiosity, creativity, and a passion for discovery.