16 students receive NCSA’s Fiddler Innovation Fellowships

10.29.18 -

By Boswell Hutson

From using supercomputers to peer into gun violence and mental health to simulating black hole mergers, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at Illinois has a long-standing history of transcending the borders of academic research. In line with this tradition, NCSA interns and student members from our SPIN, REU-INCLUSION and Design for America programs are offered the opportunity to participate in the Fiddler Innovation Undergraduate Fellowship.

This year’s class of undergraduate Fiddler Fellows includes 14 students from a variety of disciplines, 13 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and one from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Fiddler Innovation Graduate Student Fellowship Awards were also presented to two graduate students, and the Fiddler Innovation Faculty Fellowship was awarded to two faculty members.

The undergraduate award, which consists of a $1,000 stipend, was given to students whose research at NCSA crossed over into multiple disciplines, encouraging exploration of new topics and innovation. Awardees from this year studied everything from tracking race in video games to sound design and music composition on supercomputers.

“Often times, research challenges cannot fit within the scope of a single discipline,” said Donna Cox, Director of NCSA’s Advanced Visualization Lab. “To have an award that explicitly provides resources for students to transcend traditional discipline borders is priceless, and we are incredibly thankful to Jerry Fiddler and Melissa Alden for their generous contribution.”

The Fiddler Fellowship is part of a $2 million endowment from Jerry Fiddler and Melissa Alden to the University of Illinois in support of the Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media (eDream) Institute at NCSA. The eDream Institute’s explicit goal is to combine art and technology to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges by looking at them with a frame of mind that is not inhibited by disciplinary constraints.

In turn, this institute supports faculty and students who choose to step outside of disciplinary boundaries, pursuing innovative and interdisciplinary research at all levels. The students received their awards from Fiddler himself, and had an opportunity to share their research with him and other award recipients at the Fiddler Student and Faculty award luncheon on October 2.

While the Fiddler Fellowship is a vital component of NCSA’s reputation as an interdisciplinary research hub, the financial award also encourages students to experiment, offering funding for this type of abstract thinking that could eventually change the world of research, a very rare opportunity.

“As a first generation student, attending college would not be possible without the financial support I receive from scholarships and awards like these,” said award recipient Erica Pereira

A full list of undergraduate fellows and their projects can be found below:

  • Erica Pereira (DePauw University), Computer Science Visualizing and Preserving Environmental Data for Improved Governance
  • Nicole Pontaza (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Computer Science Eye Tracking Race and Cultural Difference in Video Games
  • Craig Santo (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Computer Science Putting Virtual Director (Back) in Virtual Reality
  • Jasmine Shih (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Computer Science Web Programming and Real-Time Scientific Visualization Research
  • Rishabh Rajagopalan (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Computer Science Music Composition and Sound Design on High-Performance Computers
  • Adhithya Bhaskar (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Mechanical Engineering Replicability and Reproducibility in Computational Physics
  • Thuong Ha (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Actuarial Science Visual Analytics for Precision Medicine
  • Chuhan Yu (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Learning and Education Developing a Support Tool for Optimising the Presentation Format of a Biofeedback Training Program Used in Stress Management
  • Hannah Kim (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Elementary Education Developing a Support Tool for Optimising the Presentation Format of a Biofeedback Training Program Used in Stress Management
  • Nick Zhaoyuan Su (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Architecture Developing a Support Tool for Optimising the Presentation Format of a Biofeedback Training Program Used in Stress Management
  • Xun Lin (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Mathematics and Computer Science Virtual Reality and Ray Tracing for Computational Materials Science
  • Jinlin Xu (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Computer Science Virtual Reality and Ray Tracing for Computational Materials Science
  • Jake Pisarski (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Communication Development of an Interactive Game Show Style Activity to Inform Local Seniors on the Risks of Financial Scams
  • Angela Chan (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Systems Engineering and Design Development of an Interactive Game Show Style Activity to Inform Local Seniors on the Risks of Financial Scams

Fiddler Innovation Graduate Student Fellowship awardees include:

  • Colter Wehmeier (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Architecture
  • Kyungho Lee (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Illinois Informatics Society

Fiddler Innovation Faculty Fellowship awardees include:

  • Anita Chan, University of Illinois College of Media
  • John Toenjes, University of Illinois Dance program

About NCSA

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation's science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students, and collaborators from around the globe use advanced digital resources to address research grand challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing one third of the Fortune 50® for more than 30 years by bringing industry, researchers, and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.