Alannah Oleson

Alannah Oleson was selected as a finalist for the Computing Research Association’s (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award. The award recognizes undergraduates who have made significant contributions to research.

For the past three years Oleson has been working with Margaret Burnett, Distinguished Professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, who studies human computer interaction. Oleson has worked on two different areas of research with Burnett: end-user programming and gender-inclusive software.

Oleson’s involvement has been extensive, including helping to plan and program the studies, debug procedures, collect and analyze data, and write up the results. She is co-author on six research papers and is one of the primary co-authors of a document describing the foundations of GenderMag, which is a software inspection process for programmers to uncover gender inclusiveness issues in software.

In the nomination letter for the CRA award Burnett wrote of Oleson: “In my 25 years as a faculty member, she is one of the very best undergraduate students I have seen.”

Last year, Oleson was one of 10 women to win the Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship.

Conference photo
ACM OOPSLA’17 conference. From left to right: Michael Bond, Danny Dig, Davood Mazinian, Jonathan Aldrich, Gail Murphy, Sam Tobin- Hochstadt.

Danny Dig with his students and collaborators won four prestigious research paper awards at international conferences this year. Dig, an associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, researches software engineering. His focus is on interactive program transformations that improve programmer productivity and software quality.

conference photo
ICSME ’17 conference. From left to right: Nick Nelson and Thomas Zimmermann.

Distinguished Paper Award (awarded by ACM SIGSOFT at FSE ’17)

Trade-Offs in Continuous Integration: Assurance, Security, and Flexibility
Authors: Michael Hilton, Nicholas Nelson, Timothy Tunnell, Darko Marinov, and Danny Dig

Distinguished Paper Award (awarded by IEEE TCSE at ICSME’17)

Software Practitioner Perspectives on Merge Conflicts and Resolutions
Authors: Shane McKee, Nicholas Nelson, Anita Sarma, and Danny Dig

Distinguished Artifact Award (awarded by ACM SIGPLAN at OOPSLA’17)

Understanding the Use of Lambda Expressions in Java
Authors: Davood Mazinanian, Ameya Ketkar, Nikolaos Tsantalis, and Danny Dig

Best Paper Award (awarded by IBM at HICSS’17)

Are Web Applications Ready for Parallelism?
Authors: Cosmin Radoi, Stephan Herhut, Jaswanth Sreeram, and Danny Dig

Mike Rosulek
Mike Rosulek, assistant professor of computer science

Mike Rosulek, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, received a Visa Faculty Research Award to advance methods of customer privacy and fraud detection.

“We’ve known for several decades that cryptography can protect not just data at rest, but also data in use, at least in principle. Finally, in the last several years these cryptographic ideas have been improved to become truly practical,” Rosulek said.

Rosulek and his colleague at Visa, Payman Mohassel, will be working to improve a tool from cryptology called private set intersection, which allows two parties to find items in common on two separate lists without revealing any other information from the lists.

Their research will help make complicated queries faster to process. For example, a company may want to know how many customers they have in common with another company without revealing who those customers are.

The funds will support one graduate student for a year who will be helping to develop new prototypes that would make advanced cryptography practical for companies.

“This award demonstrates that industry leaders see the potential of advanced cryptography to protect data during use and solve real-world privacy challenges,” Rosulek said.

Gabor Temes, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, will recieve the 2017 University Research Award from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). The award recognizes his excellence in research for contributions in interface electronics, including analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters, switched-capacitor filters and amplifiers, and sensor interfaces.

Temes has a 60-year career that has spanned industry and academia. His research in the area of analog integrated circuits – the interface between the “real” analog world and digital signal processors – has improved the quality of sound and data communications.

He holds 14 patents and has more than 500 publications, including several books. His long career has earned him many accolades including the IEEE Kirchhoff Award and election to the National Academy of Engineering.

He will  receive the award in conjunction with the SIA Annual Award Dinner on Nov. 14, 2017 in San Jose, Calif.

Alannah Oleson
Alannah Oleson’s award led to a summer internship with Adobe in San Jose.

Alannah Oleson, undergraduate student in computer science at Oregon State University, was one of a handful of students from all over the world to win the Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship. The scholarship acknowledges women who are improving technology and have demonstrated outreach for their community.

Oleson is helping to improve technology in the area of human-computer interaction (HCI) with Margaret Burnett, distinguished professor of computer science. Oleson is working on the GenderMag project which helps programmers to design gender inclusive software.

Her outreach to the community included mentoring two high school students through Saturday Academy, which is a program designed to help students from under-represented communities gain experience in STEM fields. She taught them how to program and what it is like to work on a research project. A couple of years after the summer-long program, Oleson saw one of her students at Oregon State going through engineering orientation. Oleson felt proud to see him choose to major in computer science after participating in the Saturday Academy program.

“To see him go from whatever he had overcome to being a computer scientist and feeling like I played a part in that was really cool,” Oleson said.

Scholarship winners are awarded $10,000 and a one-year creative cloud subscription; are assigned an Adobe research mentor; and are given an opportunity to interview for an Adobe internship. Oleson succeeded in receiving an Adobe internship and worked in San Jose, CA for 10 weeks on a research team this summer.

“All I had known was living in Roseburg, so the experience of being in the middle of the tech world was fantastic. It made me feel more confident in my career,” she said.

After the internship, Adobe decided to sponsor Oleson’s senior capstone project. In the future, Oleson hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction and eventually work in industry research.

Story by Raiza de Vera

Photo of Anushka Pandey.
Anushka Pandey recommends taking breaks from studying.

Guest post by Anushka Pandey

The first term of college can be intimidating — especially in an engineering major where you will be taking calculus and other technical courses as early as your first term. As an electrical and computer engineering major with no prior programming or robotics experience, I was incredibly nervous when I first started at Oregon State University. But I managed to find a good balance; and now I’m going into my senior year with an on-campus job, a research position in a lab and active participation in two clubs.

Your transition from high school can be easy if you try to stay organized and maintain a good balance of academics and social life. When things get hard, definitely ask for help. Your advisors and instructors will be understanding and help you find the right resources.

These are some tips that have helped me so far:

  1. Use a calendar for the term

Mark out your midterms and quizzes on your calendar as soon as you get the syllabus for all your classes. It helps a lot to know when the exams are ahead of time — you won’t be caught off guard and can study ahead. Doing this at the start of the term makes you feel very organized and prepared. In fact, having just one calendar with all your due dates and even club meetings and extra-curricular activities is a great way to plan out your schedule.

  1. Don’t be afraid to talk to upperclassmen

Seniors can seem intimidating sometimes, but they are just as approachable and friendly as anyone else. Don’t be afraid to talk to people outside of your grade. They are often great people to hang out with, and can give you invaluable advice since they’ve already been through your classes and some of your experiences. I met some of my closest friends through the engineering sorority Phi Sigma Rho.

  1. Schedule advising appointments early

Meeting with your academic advisor is important, especially if you have questions about changing majors or talking about career options. It can be easy to forget to schedule an appointment but if you wait too long all the appointments could be filled up — so definitely plan ahead.

  1. Find a hobby or activity you enjoy

Taking small breaks from studying and homework can help a lot with productivity — it’s important to not get burnt out. Find something fun to do, like hiking, reading, trying out a new coffee shop or just watching a TV show every so often. If you can find people from your dorm or your classes to do these things with, it can be a great way to de-stress.

  1. Learn a new skill or take an interesting class

There are many physical activity courses like bowling, billiards, ballet and scuba at OSU that are just one credit and very easy to accommodate in an engineering major’s schedule. When I have a difficult term with many technical courses, it helps to have one easy class to balance it out. This could even be a baccalaureate core class.


About Anushka:

I’m an international student from Mumbai, India. I’m an Ambassador for the College of Engineering and a mentor for Women and Minorities in Engineering. I’m part of the academic sorority Phi Sigma Rho. I’m interested in medical devices and have been working on a research project in the soft robotics lab. I’m a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings series and watching TV shows in my free time.


Workshop participants at Oregon State University.
Researchers from all over the world gathered at Oregon State for “Frontiers in Metrology Techniques for Magnetic Nanodevices”

Researchers from universities, national laboratories, and tech companies came to Oregon State University this July to discuss needs and challenges in measuring the performance of magnetic nanodevices.

This first-time workshop, called “Frontiers in Metrology Techniques for Magnetic Nanodevices” drew participants from as far away as Japan, Belgium and the United Kingdom. It was jointly organized by Pallavi Dhagat, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Thomas Silva at the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

The purpose of the workshop was to bring together researchers from diverse areas working on magnetic nanotechnologies to share information that could spark collaborations and advance the field. The format of the workshop emphasized networking and encouraged sharing unpublished and ongoing work.

Ania Bleszynski Jayich
Ania Bleszynski Jayich, associate professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara, attended the workshop at Oregon State University.

“The targeted goals of the workshop made for productive and highly relevant discussions and networking,” said Ania Bleszynski Jayich, associate professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara. “As a physicist with a basic research approach, it was instructive to discover several close connections to industrial needs, and thus I was able to initiate several important relationships that will hopefully flourish in upcoming years.”

Although there are several conferences in the field of magnetism this was the first international workshop that was focused solely on metrology. Attendees gave very positive feedback and indicated they would like it to become a biennial event.

“It was very fruitful. We were often behind schedule because the talks were generating so many discussions,” said Hans Nembach, senior research associate at University of Colorado, Boulder. “It’s a great format, we should certainly have it again.”

Support for the workshop was provided by Oregon State University, Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute and Intel.

Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez
Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez speaking at the Electrical Systems Resilience and the Cascadia Subduction Zone Event course.

Oregon State University in collaboration with Portland State University held a one-day course on June 30, 2017 for power systems engineers and related professionals concerned with solutions to the threat of Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquakes and tsunamis.

The course was part of a grant from the Oregon Talent Council to support training for the Oregon workforce in disaster preparedness as it relates to electrical system resiliency.

Members of 17 different companies or other organizations came to the event including representatives from the Bonneville Power Administration, Portland General Electric, Central Lincoln PUD, Pacific Power and the Eugene Water and Electric Board.

The speakers were Ted Brekken, Jinsub Kim, Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez of Oregon State University; Leon Kempner of the Bonneville Power Administration; and Yumei Wang from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

Ted Brekken
Ted Brekken presenting at the Electrical Systems Resilience course.

Videos from the Oregon State speakers are available on a playlist at the OSU EECS YouTube Channel. Or the individual talks are:

Other training supported by the Oregon Talent Council grant includes an on-campus course that Brekken taught in the spring term of 2017, and an on-line course that will be released this summer by the Oregon State University Office of Professional and Continuing Education meant for practicing professionals.

Image of coal mining waste.
Distribution of coal mining waste along streams and water bodies. Created by Taylor Alexander Brown, Heidi Ann Clayton, and Xiaomei Wang for their project called Coal and Open-pit surface mining impacts on American Lands (COAL).

Three Oregon State University students working with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory received the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) Startup Allocation based on their senior design capstone project.

Taylor Alexander Brown (computer science), Heidi Ann Clayton (computer science),  and Xiaomei Wang (finance), also won the CH2M Multidisciplinary Collaboration Award at the 2017 Undergraduate Engineering Expo at Oregon State for their project called Coal and Open-pit surface mining impacts on American Lands (COAL).

The team created a system to process remote-sensing data to identify land surface types, coal mining operations, and the environmental impacts on water resources to help NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory study the effects of coal mining on the environment.

The XSEDE award will allow the team to continue development on the project including the use of XSEDE resources for benchmarking, evaluation and experimentation. Funded by the National Science Foundation, XSEDE is a collection of integrated advanced digital resources and services.

“The availability and opportunity to use computational infrastructure of this caliber will further enable the development of a science gateway to continue foundational COAL research,” said Lewis John McGibbney, data scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the client for the project.

“I am extremely proud of the team’s achievements and know that such endeavors set a high standard for each and every one of them as they progress further through their journey in higher education and beyond.”

Vishvas Chalishazar, Kamesh Mullapudi, and Sharmin Kibria took top honors for the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Oregon State College of Engineering’s Graduate Research Showcase.

The three also presented their research posters at the Oregon Stater Awards ceremony a week later, where they were able to meet with distinguished alumni.

Preventing massive power outages

Sharmin Kibria
Sharmin Kibria

In the summer of 2003, a massive blackout occurred in the power grid in the northeast United States and Canada, resulting in a loss of power for two days, affecting 55 million people across eight states and Ontario. The cause of the outage was traced back to the grid’s control center failing to identify few anomalies in measurements and not providing an accurate analysis of the problem. Because the control center was unaware of the situation, it wasn’t able to take preventive action in time, and the fault spread throughout the interconnected grid.

Working with Jinsub Kim, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, doctoral student Sharmin Kibria is looking for ways to prevent power outages, big and small. She is developing better ways for control systems to detect and identify anomalies in measurements and fix issues before they become problems.

Conventional methods for detecting anomalies in measurements rely on measurements collected by sensors at only a single time point of interest. In Kibria’s algorithm, the sensing system scans the grid continually — every two to four seconds — to obtain readings from multiple time points and use them to enhance accuracy of measurement correction. The key idea is to exploit a generic property of anomalies in a sensor network. Specifically, their locations tend to be invariant over multiple measurement periods.

“We can accurately identify where the error is and throw out corrupted data and use healthy measurements,” Kibria said.

Kibria tested her proposed algorithm on a model of a portion of the New England power grid and it outperformed the benchmark technique that uses single measurements, showing great promise for a better system that won’t leave us in the dark.

Helping save lives after earthquakes

Vishvas Chalishazar
Vishvas Chalishazar

First place winner Vishvas Chalishazar, a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering, is working with the energy systems research group to help make sure critical buildings, like hospitals, remain functional after an earthquake.

“The main idea is to make the whole electrical grid more robust, more resilient, and add more redundancies,” Chalishazar said.

Although it is impossible to ensure that the entire grid never loses power, Chalishazar is working to figure out which nodes in a grid will likely become impaired and help electric utility companies develop their plans to shore up specific assets in their grids.

Under the guidance of Ted Brekken and Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez, professors of electrical and computer engineering, Chalishazar developed and ran one million simulations on a simple 3-bus electrical grid model. His next step will be to develop and apply simulations to the Oregon State University’s Corvallis campus grid, which consists of 286 buses.

The energy systems group is working with the Central Lincoln People’s Utility District, Portland General Electric, and Pacific Power to research grid operation, planning, and analysis methods for improved resiliency.

Pushing the limits of Moore’s Law

Kamesh Mullapudi
Kamesh Mullapudi

Many scientists have been predicting that the death of Moore’s Law — that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit (IC) doubles each year — is imminent, but electrical and computer engineering doctoral student Kamesh Mullapudi is working to delay its demise.

IC manufacturers are currently working on developing and producing 10-nanometer node transistors. These transistors — some of them just 50 atomic layers across — are so small that finding defects on chips is challenging. Optical and electron microscopy techniques currently being used to detect defects, are inadequate and impractical for transistors that make up the latest microprocessors. Magnetic resonance can detect defects on this scale, but the giant magnets required are not practical and expensive.

To overcome these obstacles, Mullapudi is working with John Conley, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, on using low-field electrically detected magnetic resonance (LFEDMR) that uses small magnets and is extremely sensitive. This technology can help pinpoint not only which chips are defective on a wafer, but can help identify the cause of a particular defect.

In the chip manufacturing business, yield loss (the number of defective chips on a wafer) is costly.

“We’re working with Intel to develop the LFEDMR technique to a scale that is implementable in industry and ultimately increase their yield and profitability,” Mullapudi said.

Story by Gale Sumida