Ginger Clayton receives Staff Career Achievement Award

Virginia Clayton, retired business manager in the Department of Computer Science, has received the university’s 2015 Staff Career Achievement Award. Clayton retired from the university in August 2015 after 30 years of service.

Created in 2011 to recognize retiring staff members, the Staff Career Achievement Award is presented annually to as many as five individuals who have distinguished themselves through exemplary performance and service during their university careers. Nominees must have worked a minimum of 10 years at Virginia Tech. Each recipient is awarded $1,000 cash prize.

As business manager for the Department of Computer Science, Clayton used her fiscal expertise to help navigate budget cuts, pay back departmental loans, initiate and design the faculty grant incentives program, as well as to pass both external and internal audits successfully.
The grant incentives program rewards faculty members who received larger research grants, with incentive awards of increasing magnitude for larger grants. As a result, research funding saw an increase from $20 million to $43.4 million in six years. Clayton’s fiscal and facilities responsibilities directly related to her support in an increasingly high caliber of faculty and graduate student research.

Clayton was considered the “go to” person in the department, as well as in the College of Engineering, among other business managers on campus, and the Office of Special Projects. She was known for her ability to solve problems without hesitation.

Alongside her work within the Department of Computer Science, she also served on the Total Quality Management Team and Steering Committee for University Research for more than two years. Clayton was also a member of the Virginia Society of Research Administrators.


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Ginger Clayton

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A Sharper Sense of Self: Probabilistic Reasoning of Program Behaviors for Anomaly Detection with Context Sensitivity

Danfeng (Daphne) Yao’s paper was recently accepted to present at the IEEE DSN conference. The 46th Annual IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN) will take place in Toulouse, France on June, 2016.

The work of Professor Yao, in collaboration with Kui Xu, Ke Tian and Barbara Ryder, presents a security monitoring system for ensuring the normal executions of complex programs and providing early detection of attacks. Their solution is based on hidden Markov model (HMM) and context-sensitive program analysis. This program-aware HMM model is new. It enables them to achieve unprecedented ultra-low false alarm rates in probabilistic program anomaly detection. Experiments show that their system has up to two orders of magnitude improvement of accuracy over state-of-the-art techniques on average. This project is supported by the Office of Naval Research.

Danfeng (Daphne) Yao is an associate professor and L-3 Faculty Fellow in the Department of Computer Science. The first author Kui Xu is a Ph.D. graduate from Dr. Yao’s group and is currently a security engineer at Amazon, Inc. Ke Tian is a third year Ph.D. student in Yao’s group. Ke Tian will intern at Qualcomm this summer researching on mobile malware detection. Barbara Ryder is the J. Byron Maupin Professor of Engineering and former CS department head.


Daphne Yao
Daphne Yao


Barbara Ryder

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Faculty Funded Grants and Projects

Congratulations to Na Meng on her newly funded NSF CRII grant, “Analysis and Automation of Global Systematic Changes”.

Na Meng, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science
Dr. Na Meng



Congratulations to Ali Butt on his newly funded project from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, “I/O Load Balancing in Large-Scale Storage Systems.”

Dr. Ali Butt
Dr. Ali Butt



Congratulations to Wu Feng on his recent funding from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for a project on “Directive-based Pipelining Extensions to OpenMP for GPU Computing”.

Dr. Wu Feng
Dr. Wu Feng

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AAUW Wytheville branch sponsored STEM Saturday Workshop

The AAUW Wytheville branch sponsored a STEM Saturday Workshop for middle school girls on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at Wytheville Community College. Five members of Virginia Tech’s Association for Women in Computing (AWC) student group participated. Marina Kiseleva, Michelle Becerra, Vanessa Cedeno, Christy Coghlan and Abigail Bartolome led two workshops during the day. The first workshop, entitled “Design Your Own Story & Watch It Go!”, taught the participants how to create a movie or a game. The second workshop, entitled “Algorithms — how to instruct a computer to do things?”, allowed participants to learn how to describe a problem and solve it as a computer would.


From L to R: Abigail Bartolome, Vanessa Cedeno, Christy Coghlan, Marina Kiseleva, Michelle Becerra and Barbara Ryder.
From L to R:
Abigail Bartolome, Vanessa Cedeno, Christy Coghlan, Marina Kiseleva, Michelle Becerra and Barbara Ryder.


STEM Saturday Workshop pic 1 STEM Saturday Workshop pic 2 STEM Saturday Workshop pic 3 STEM Saturday Workshop pic 4 STEM Saturday Workshop pic 6 STEM Saturday Workshop pic 7

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SeeMore at the USA Science and Engineering Festival

Kirk Cameron, professor and associate department head for Graduate Studies in computer science, will be exhibiting “SeeMore: Kinetic Computer Sculpture” in the NSF booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival this Friday, April 15 to Sunday, April 17 in Washington, D.C.  The event is the largest science and engineering festival in the nation, with more than 350,000 attendees expected.


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“SeeMore: Kinetic Computer Sculpture”
“SeeMore: Kinetic Computer Sculpture”


Dr. Kirk Cameron
Dr. Kirk Cameron

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T. M. Murali and Shiv Kale present new method to reconstruct signaling pathways

Understanding the nature of signaling pathways — networks of molecules in a cell that work together to control a cell’s response to its environment — is an increasingly important part of biomedical research and helpful, for example, in enhancing our understanding of how cancer cells live or die.

In a paper, Pathways on demand: automated reconstruction of human signaling networks, published in Systems Biology and Applications, a Nature partner journal, T. M. Murali, professor in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, in collaboration with Shiv Kale, a research scientist at the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech, present a new computational algorithm called PathLinker that automatically reconstructs signaling pathways from a background network of molecular interactions.


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Shiv Kale (left) and T. M. Murali (right)
Shiv Kale (left) and T. M. Murali (right)



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SIGCSE 2016, the flagship conference on computer science education, took place in Memphis TN in March, with a big collection of Virginia Tech students, faculty, and alumni taking on a variety of important roles. My grad student Mohammed Seyam and I presented a paper on teaching mobile software development with Pair Programming. Cliff Shaffer and his students and alums had multiple papers and exhibits. Greg Kulczycki served on a panel.  And, most notably, Steve Edwards was program co-chair this year!

Mohammed Seyam’s paper and talk focused on Teaching Mobile Development with Pair Programming. It explored his investigation of Pair Programming (PP) when teaching mobile software design in an upper level CS course. PP has been shown to be useful in some teaching situations, but Mohammed is the first to look at it in teaching mobile. He also had an entry in the graduate Student Research Competition that took a broader look at the balance between PP, hands-on activities, and traditional lectures when teaching mobile software design, for which he was named a finalist.

As always, SIGCSE featured interesting and engaging keynotes. John Sweller talked about the impacts of cognitive load theory on CS education. Barbara Boucher Owens and Jan Cuny received service awards from SIGCSE and gave keynotes that reflected their life experiences. It was particularly good to see Jan Cuny receive an award given her contributions to diversity in leading broadening participation in computing programs at the NSF. Karen Lee Ashcraft talked about breaking the glass slipper, and how organizations historically (and continually) have crafted jobs and workplaces that encourage stereotypes. This was a bolder and more developed version of a talk she gave at NCWIT 2015.


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Anil Kumar Vullikanti named VT Scholar of the Week

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation recognizes Anil Kumar Vullikanti, an assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering and the Biocomplexity Institute, who develops methods to forecast significant societal events, such as disease outbreaks.

He is a member of the Biocomplexity Institute’s Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory, which integrates informatics, analytics, and large complex system modeling across diverse domains to build synthetic information tools for real-world, stakeholder-defined problems.

Vullikanti studies dynamical systems, wireless networks, social networks, computation epidemiology, and the modeling, simulation, and analysis of socio-technical systems.


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Notes from Department Head Cal Ribbens

There is a lot of conversation on campus this spring about “Destination Areas,” a term that refers to ambitious new areas of growth in research and education at Virginia Tech.  You can learn much more about this discussion at the “Beyond Boundaries” site, which summarizes the bold challenge our new President and Provost has given us—to define what an internationally-recognized, global land-grant institution like Virginia Tech should look like in 2047.  The specifics of the Destination Areas are still emerging.  However, it is clear that computer science can and will play a pivotal role in all of them.  For example, a central Destination Area is in “Data and Decision Sciences.”  Our research and teaching emphasis in big data analytics allows us to play a leadership role in the definition of this destination area.   Other destination areas have working titles such as “Intelligent Infrastructure and Human-Centered Communities” and “Integrated Security,” so it is not difficult to make the case that CS is part of the discussion!

While we look forward to helping make Virginia Tech an even more attractive destination for new students and faculty, we also think about another kind of destination at this time of year, namely the next destination for our graduates.   It is always deeply gratifying to see the excitement of our soon-to-be alumni as they make plans for their next destination.  We will award over 200 BS degrees this year, along with over 30 M.S. and about 20 Ph.D. degrees.  For some, the next destination will be graduate school, military service, or a faculty position.  For others it will mean joining a spectacularly wide array of companies or agencies, from small start-ups in Blacksburg or Austin or San Francisco, to large contractors in Richmond or Charlotte or Arlington, to multinational companies in New York City or Seattle or Mountain View.  For all of our alumni, new and old, we are glad you decided to make CS@VT your destination for a few years, and we hope that decision has prepared you well for all your subsequent destinations!


Dr. Ribbens

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5th Annual Aspirations In Computing Awards

As part of an effort to encourage more young women to choose careers in technology, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and the Virginia/DC Affiliate Award for Aspirations in Computing program recognized 25 high school women for their accomplishments and aspirations in computing and technology.  The award event was held at the Microsoft facility in Reston, Virginia, and featured a keynote talk by Ms. Natalie Singh, Director of Microsoft Enterprise Services Sales for the US Department of Defense.  The event was co-chaired by Dr. Kelly Shaw, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of Richmond, and Ms. Libby G. Bradford, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Computer Science at Virginia Tech.

The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing is a program of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, a coalition of over 450 universities, corporations and organizations dedicated to increasing the meaningful participation of women in computing. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing was created to acknowledge the computing aspirations of young women, introduce them to leadership opportunities in the field, and generate visibility for women’s participation in computing-related pursuits.  Award-winners have been selected for their outstanding aptitude and interest in computing and desire to pursue computing-related studies. The NCWIT Aspirations in Computing program is sponsored nationally by AT&T, Bank of America, Bloomberg and Microsoft with additional support from Google, Intel, Motorola Solutions Foundation and Northrop Grumman.

“It is a joy to recognize the computing and technical accomplishments of these outstanding young women from Virginia and the District of Columbia.  The knowledge, skills, and experiences they have already acquired are impressive as is their desire to share their passion for computing with other students and the community.  They are inspirational,” said Dr. Kelly Shaw, VA/DC co-chair.   In the Virginia/DC Affiliate’s five-year history, 174 students have been recognized.

Chinell Callwood, a teacher at Heritage High School Governor’s STEM Academy in Newport News, received the 2016 Outstanding Educator award from the affiliate.

Student winners are:

First Name Last Name School
Kathleen Ascrizzi Langley High School
Juliana Bain Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Zainab Balogun Albemarle High School (Virginia)
Julia Burks Battlefield High School
Emilia Cabrera Woodson High School
Macallan Cruff New Horizons Governor’s School
Quiana Dang Marshall High School (Falls Church VA)
Rupali Dhumne Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Celine Estrada John Champe High School
Madeline Feigles Stone Bridge School
Kiran Girish Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Sydney Hatton William Monroe High School
Kavya Kopparapu Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Jessica Lu Deep Run High School
Elizabeth McPherson Colonial Forge High School
Sydney Nixon West Potomac High School
Neejole Patel Briar Woods High School
Paige Rutherford Deep Run High School
Sophie Salomon Western Albemarle High School
Aditi Takle South Lakes High School
Sasha Volodin Washington-Lee High School
Michele Wang Oakton High School
Yunyun Wang Hidden Valley High School
Corinne Williams Maret School
Emily Xu Manassas Park High School


Student runners-up are:

Mahnoor Asad South Lakes High School
Anusha Basana Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Crystal Cheung McLean High School
Katherine Cinnamon Forest Park High School
Henrietta Clarke St Catherines School
Trishina Crawley Appomattox Regional Governor’s School
Keenah Cuaycong Stone Bridge High School
Deepshika Dhanasekar Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Namita Dongre Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Phaith Dunlap-Tunnage Heritage High School (Newport News, VA)
Isabelle Gallagher Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Elizabeth Hu Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Navya Kalale Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Alexandra Kemper Jamestown High School
Anusha Khan Freedom High School (South Riding, VA)
Satvika Kumar Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Jamie Lee Patriot High School
Sieun Lee Marshall High School (Falls Church VA)
Tian Low Woodbridge High School
Alexis Marra Jefferson Forest High School
Jamie Marie Pangilinan Battlefield High School
Hojung Park Albemarle High School (Virginia)
Britney Phan Oakton High School
Iram Sharieff Gar-field High School
Laura Sizemore Lake Braddock Secondary
Hannah Snesil Deep Run High School
Lauryn Tideo Granby High School
Michelle Wu Princess Anne High School
Regina Yap Langley High School


The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing offers both national and local affiliate competitions to generate support and visibility for women’s participation in communities nationwide. The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) works to correct the imbalance of gender in technology and computing because gender diversity positively correlates with a larger workforce, better innovation, and increased business performance.

The “Aspirations in Computing Awards” event and the gifts received by the winners this year were funded by Bank of America, Eastman Chemical, Fidelity, NetApp, Northrop Grumman, SWIFT, The Washington Post and Virginia Tech.  Additional support was provided by Accenture, BEL Network Integration & Support, Deloitte, Level 3 Communications, and Microsoft.  Winners receive prizes from multiple companies and two trophies: one for the winner and one to be displayed at her high school.

For more information on the Aspirations program please visit


Standing: Vanessa Barlow (National Winner from Virginia), Sydney Hatton, Kavya Kopparapu, Sydney Nixon, Corrine Williams, Elizabeth McPherson, Madeline Feigles, Aditi Takle, Sasha Volodin, Jessica Lu Seated: Celine Estrada, Sophie Salomon, Michele Wang, Quiana Dang, Rupali Dhumne, Emily Xu, Zainab Ayoade Balogun
Standing: Vanessa Barlow (National Winner from Virginia), Sydney Hatton, Kavya Kopparapu, Sydney Nixon, Corrine Williams, Elizabeth McPherson, Madeline Feigles, Aditi Takle, Sasha Volodin, Jessica Lu
Seated: Celine Estrada, Sophie Salomon, Michele Wang, Quiana Dang, Rupali Dhumne, Emily Xu, Zainab Ayoade Balogun


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