2024 CS Annual Award Winners

Northwestern CS recognized 10 faculty, staff, and students with annual department awards

Every academic year, Northwestern Computer Science honors faculty, staff, and students who provided exceptional service to the department or excelled in research projects.

“Congratulations to the deserving winners, who won in a highly competitive field of candidates,” said Samir Khuller, Peter and Adrienne Barris Chair of Computer Science at Northwestern Engineering. “I am proud and inspired by the dedication and passion of all our faculty, staff, and students. The awards recognize just a small subset of amazing individuals in the department, and our work is always a collaborative team effort.”

Staff Hero: Madeleine Agaton Lantin

Madeleine Agaton LantinLantin, senior graduate program coordinator, earned a Staff Hero Award for her exceptional service and dedication to enhancing the experience of graduate students in the department. Her meticulous attention to detail and exceptional organizational skills also ensured a professional and memorable experience for prospective PhD candidates during Visit Day, contributing significantly to the department’s recruitment success.

Lantin was commended for her commitment to improving processes, advocating for students, and sharing her wealth of knowledge about University and community resources.

“Her genuine concern for student success and her unwavering support have made her an invaluable asset to the department and the wider academic community,” a nominator said.

Instructors of the Year: Michael Horn and Zach Wood-Doughty

Michael Horn (L) and Zach Wood-Doughty (R)Horn, professor of computer science at the McCormick School of Engineering and professor of learning sciences at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy, was recognized as an exceptional educator who explores novel ways of teaching and learning and challenges students to think creatively and approach problems with open-mindedness.

In his COMP_SCI 313, 413: Tangible Interaction Design and Learning course, for example, Horn guided students through intensive projects that fostered exploratory and collaborative learning experiences.

“Mike goes above and beyond by getting to know each student personally, providing tailored support and encouragement,” a nominator said. “With his passion for innovative teaching approaches, he inspires students to push beyond traditional constraints and nurtures both their technical and creative skills.”

Wood-Doughty, assistant professor of instruction, was honored for his dedication to helping students learn and succeed through carefully planned lectures and homework assignments, extra office hours, and online support. Students appreciated his energy and passion for teaching, clear explanations, and fair grading.

“His hard work in providing excellent instruction, well-designed course materials, and supportive guidance for students is outstanding,” a nominator said.

Faculty Service Award: Vincent St-Amour

Vincent St-AmourSt-Amour, associate professor of instruction, was recognized with the Faculty Service Award for his dedicated service and advocacy for the department as chair of the teaching faculty reappointment committee and head of the curriculum committee.

“Vincent selflessly serves on several committees, consistently being a proactive voice for improving policies and increasing support for faculty,” a nominator said. “His wide-ranging service efforts have immensely benefited the department.”

Research Mentor Awards: Matthew Kay and Fumeng Yang

Matthew Kay (L) and Fumeng Yang (R)Kay, associate professor of computer science at Northwestern Engineering and associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern’s School of Communication, was praised for his commitment to mentorship excellence. His diligent guidance led to notable productivity this year — 10 papers by his team were accepted into top venues like the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems and IEEE Visualization Conference.

“Professor Kay's studious mentorship approach fosters independence by guiding students with insightful questioning rather than directives,” a nominator said. “He also creates an inclusive lab environment by prioritizing his students' holistic wellbeing.”

Yang, a postdoctoral fellow in Kay’s Midwest Uncertainty Collective (MU Collective) lab, was also honored with the Research Mentor Award for going above and beyond to support junior researchers.

“Her brilliant communication skills, structured advice, and endless kindness have helped countless students navigate research challenges and develop critical skills,” a nominator said. “Fumeng's dedication to elevating the next generation of researchers, even while facing immense pressures herself, embodied the ideal research mentor and set an inspirational example to follow.”

PhD Student Research Award: Hyeok Kim

Hyeok KimKim, a PhD candidate in computer science, is advised by the MU Collective’s co-director Jessica Hullman, Ginni Rometty Professor and associate professor of computer science.

Kim’s research in data visualization lies at the intersection of programming, statistics, and linguistics. He led an influential research program in responsive visualization design, publishing five first-author papers in top venues.

Kim’s research interests also include multi-context visualization, data sonification, narrative and communicative visualization, and design approaches to address societal problems.

In addition to his academic achievements, Kim passionately advocated for diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups in his roles as a teaching assistant and mentor.

Student Heroes: Melissa Chen, Nathan Grenier, and Maryam Hedayati

(L to R): Melissa Chen, Nathan Grenier, and Maryam Hedayati Chen, a second-year PhD student in computer science advised by Eleanor O'Rourke, revitalized the CS PhD Advisory Council (CSPAC) and Graduate Women in Computing (GWiC) student groups.

“Her leadership, dedication, and numerous initiatives have fostered a supportive and inclusive environment for all students,” a nominator said.

Grenier, a PhD student in computer science advised by Simone Campanoni, was an instrumental member of CSPAC and the Computer Science Social Initiative.

“His tireless efforts in coordinating with faculty, attending meetings, hosting events, and fostering collaboration between organizations have been crucial in creating a supportive environment,” a nominator said.

Hedayati, a PhD student in computer science and learning sciences advised by Kay, made a profound impact on the department as a dedicated mentor, community builder, and advocate for women. Hedayati also helped lead the inaugural year of the Research Track program, served as a teaching assistant, and participated in CSPAC and GWiC.

“Maryam's unwavering commitment to guiding new students and sharing her insights for success has positively influenced many in the department,” a nominator said.

Awards celebration

The department award winners will be honored during the End of Year Awards Celebration event on Thursday, May 30, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the first floor lobby of Mudd Hall.

McCormick News Article