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News for Alumni and Friends
January 2021
Happy New Year from Illinois Computer Science!

During the unusual and challenging events of the past year, it has been impressive to see Illinois CS students, faculty, staff, and alumni adapt, persevere, and overcome. We welcomed dozens of new CS faculty, launched two new national AI Centers, established a research consortium whose initial efforts are focused on COVID-19, fought discrimination and challenged conventional thinking, created viral tools to visualize pandemic data, introduced a new certificate program to upskill non-CS college graduates, built tools to support mental health, identified that multiple SARS-CoV-2 strains can co-exist in patients, participated in a successful campus COVID-19 testing program, and transitioned to online courses—all while learning, innovating, and working under less-than-ideal circumstances. And these are just a few of the things that we accomplished; this list really could have gone on and on.

These efforts—the efforts by the entire Illinois CS community—are a big reason that I believe that we can look forward with hope for the year ahead. Wishing you and yours a healthy and happy new year! 

Nancy M. Amato, Illinois CS Department Head

 Professors Jose Meseguer and Hanghang Tong

ACM Recognizes Meseguer, Tong for Contributions to Computing

Two Illinois CS faculty were recently recognized by the Association for Computing Machinery for achievements in computing. Professor Jose Meseguer was named an ACM Fellow for work in formal methods and Hanghanag Tong was named an ACM Distinguished Member for work in data mining. Learn more →

 Computing Research Association logo.

Four Illinois CS Undergraduates Earn CRA Research Recognition

Mathematics and CS senior Reed Oei was among five students nationwide selected as Runner-Ups for the 2021 Computing Research Association Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award, which recognizes undergraduate students in North American universities who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research. Fellow CS students Rittika Adhikari, Nathan Ju, and Xiangchen Song received Honorable Mentions. Learn more →

 X-ray analysis

Collaborative Research Better Predicts COVID-19 Severity

A cold call from Ayis Pyrros, MD, of DuPage Medical Group to Illinois CS professor David Forsyth led to a collaboration that uses X-rays to better predict both chronic conditions like diabetes and, more recently, severity of COVID-19 cases. The AI model built by Forsyth, faculty colleague Sanmi Koyejo, and CS graduate students reads the X-ray and then factors in six health variables. Learn more →

 Sidharth Rajaram

Necessity was the Mother of Invention for Illinois Student App Developer

Statistics and CS sophomore Sidharth Rajaram wanted to create a website to help people safely navigate COVID-19, but he was hampered by a lack of free methods to quickly get information about U.S. counties. Now he has created a COVID-19 county data API that's free for app developers to use. Learn more →

 Jian Peng

Peng's Collaborative Work in Crop Prediction Earns HPC Innovation Excellence Award

A research collaboration between professor Jian Peng and NCSA scientists, titled “Reliable and Novel Tools for Long-Term Crop Prediction," has been recognized with the HPC Innovation Excellence Award. The team's crop growth model is more accurate than previous methods. Learn more →


Apply by February 15 to start the Online MCS in Summer 2021!


Health Make-A-Thon Supports Illinois Residents With Ideas for Improving Healthcare
The goal of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine Health Make-a-Thon competition is to provide the support that everyday people need to help bring those ideas to life. Illinois CS senior Ananya Cleetus, one of last year’s winners, says the idea she had for the Health Make-a-Thon came directly from her own experience with mental illness. Illinois Newsroom →


UI Waiting on FDA Approval to Expand Tests
As students return to campus, the University of Illinois is still waiting on FDA approval to further expand its saliva-based test. While the UI awaits the FDA’s independent review, some organizations and universities have already signed up to use its saliva-based test, including the University of Wisconsin, the University of Maine and Bloom Energy in California. The News-Gazette →


Looking Toward a Post-Vaccine COVID-19 America
In this op-ed, professors Sheldon H. Jacobson and Janet A. Jokela argue that a return to normal depends on a variety of factors, including the effectiveness of the vaccines, their ability to interrupt transmission, and their uptake within the population. The Detroit News →


iCAN Application for Fall 2021 are open.

Illinois logo. 

Illinois Computer Science Speaker Series
Check the calendar for upcoming speakers!
The Illinois Computer Science Speaker Series brings prominent leaders and experts to campus to share their ideas and promote conversations about important challenges and topics in the discipline. Join us online: talks are virtual this year!  View the Calendar →

Pulse 2021 

Pulse 2021: Discoveries
Jan. 30 - Feb. 6, 2021, Online
The tenth annual student-run conference will be an online celebration of technology, with workshops, technical talks, hardware and software competitions, and a celebration of women in technology. Register now for Pulse 2021!

After Hours is February 16, 4-7pm 

Virtual After Hours
Feburary 16, 2021, 4-7 pm, Online
Students: Meet the companies that want to hire you -- online!  This spring's After Hours will be a virtual event hosted on the CareerEco platform. Register now!

Engineering Open House 

Engineering Open House
Mar. 26-27, 2021, Online
The University’s largest student-run event, which features student and corporate exhibits, design competitions, guest speakers, and campus tours, is moving online. Save the date for Engineering Open House!

HackIllinois: Rekindling Connections 

HackIllinois 2021: Rekindling Connections
Apr. 9-11, 2021, Online
Save the date for HackIllinois! This student-run, 36-hour team competition showcases students' programming and creative skills, attracting participants from across the nation. Check the HackIllinois Website for updates about this year's virtual event! 


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