This has been an amazing year of changes and challenges for the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences. Thanks to our faculty, staff, and students for your flexibility, ingenuity, and grit in meeting our challenges, developing solutions, overcoming obstacles, and most importantly, providing excellence in all you do. To our industry partners, thanks for continuing to place your faith in our School and its people. We are on the move and could not do what we do or be where we are without your support. As we reflect on our past year and accelerate towards further excellence let’s highlight some of our achievements.
If our name sounds different to you, we welcome you to the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences (KFSCIS)—our new name is thanks to a generous $10 million investment in our future from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and a $106.2 million commitment from FIU that will result in 20 new faculty positions and additional dedicated KFSCIS space in the new engineering building. The ground-breaking ceremony for the new $48 million Engineering Complex was held September 9th, 2021, initiating construction of the 125,000 square-foot facility on the corner of SW 8thStreet and 107th Avenue. In addition, we are exceedingly grateful to our benefactors, faculty, and staff who have enabled us to experience a 60% increase in students enrolled since 2017. Even with this growth, we continue to provide excellence in the classroom, as witnessed by the selection of our students to work at some of the top Fortune 500 companies.
As the FIU community moves forward with a strategic plan designed for the 21st century, we are poised and ready to take the university to its Next Horizon of student success and research excellence.
This report details impact points from AY July 2020-November 2021 for the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences that set us apart from the crowd as we look to the next horizon.
Elected to the Rank of National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow
S. S. Iyengar
Named Member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts
2021 DARPA Young Faculty Award
Sheila Alemany: As an FIU KFSCIS graduate student, Sheila has received the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships(NSFGRF), a distinction shared by numerous Nobel Prize winners, government and public policy leaders, and private industry trailblazers, and awarded from a pool of 12,000 applicants. Sheila Alemany Blanco, who is pursuing her Ph.D. with Dr. Niki Pissinou at FIU, has researched the intersection between cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, also known as adversarial machine learning. She has four years of
experience applying novel data science and machine learning techniques primarily in the fields of cybersecurity and mobile wireless sensor networks.
Jasmine Batten: As an FIU KFSCIS graduate student, Jasmine has also received the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships(NSFGRF), a distinction shared by numerous Nobel Prize winners, government and public policy leaders, and private industry trailblazers, and awarded from a pool of 12,000 applicants. Jasmine Batten is a computer science Ph. D. student and computer science education graduate research assistant in the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences (SCIS) at FIU. She works in the LEARN-CS (Listening and Engaging with Alternative Research Narratives in Computer Science) lab under Dr. Monique Ross. Her research interests are improving women’s retention and persistence in computer science.
Anthony Peña – Lately, life’s been fast-tracked for Anthony Peña, a KFSCIS student. The 23-year-old co-created a receipt management app, won first-place honors in local and national demo day competitions, mentored interns at Facebook University, and secured an internship with Amazon in 2022, all in just nine months. And it all started when he received an email with this subject line:CodePath.org brings free coding
course to FIU.
Eric Azcona – A passionate entrepreneur, Eric Azcona, has been actively pursuing startups since 2003, when he founded his first company. Focused on selling mobile phones and providing satellite internet access to rural areas. Through his own funding – he spurred a product that ultimately resulted in PointGenie, a software tool that uses machine learning to provide visitor analytics to business owners of all industries, including retail.
Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences continues to make excellent progress in its research activities maintaining its funding at a very high level. The School’s external research funding (Direct Awards) have reached $18.5M as of early October. Our income from Foundation and Auxiliary accounts has reached $160K for a total of $18.7M external. Foundation gifts include donations from Chevron, IBM, Verizon, State Farm, and the JM Family Corp. Faculty publication activities remained at high levels in both quantity and quality. Faculty publication activities remained at high levels in both quantity and quality; Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences research publications included 184 research publications (papers + proceedings), 7 books, and 21 technology disclosures.
Funding from the Caplan Foundation and the Children’s Trust: Professors received funding from the Caplan Foundation and The Children’s Trust to support the development and pilot testing of the “Baby Feed” App and Portals. Dr. Masoud Sadjadi, at KFSCIS, together with Drs. Cristina Palacios, Jean Hannan, and Marcia Varella from the FIU Colleges of Public Health & Social Work, Nursing & Health Sciences, and Medicine, have been awarded funding from the Caplan Foundation and The Children’s Trust to support the development and pilot testing of the “Baby Feed” App and Portals for Healthcare Professionals and Parents to improve infant diets. This software solution will enable assessment of infant diets and provide results and recommendations automatically, allowing parents to track their progress with the infant diet, and clinicians to see the results of the tracking from the parents. Dr. Sadjadi’s team in KFSCIS will be responsible for the development and maintenance of this application during the pilot testing project.
Professors garner $750,000 grant from National Centers of Academic Excellence (NSA) – FIU College of Engineering and Computing Professors garnered $750,000 grant from National Security Agency’s National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity. Dr. Selcuk Uluagac (Lead PI), and his team, Drs. Alexander Perez-Pons (Co-PI), Amin Kharraz (Co-PI), Jason Liu (Co-PI), Kemal Akkaya (Co-PI), Mohammad Rahman (Co-PI), and Dong Chen (Co-PI), have been selected to receive $750,000 over three years for their project submitted to the National Security Agency’s National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity. The goal of this project is to develop foundational principles that will guide the development of automated detection and response platforms for evasive attacks on today’s cyberinfrastructure. The proposal seeks to design applied solutions to improve defense agility by quickly assessing the nature of an unknown attack and selecting an appropriate response to contain the damage without introducing manual overhead.
Researches Investigate to Help Fight COVID-19 –Dr. Giri Narasimhan, at KFSCIS, principal investigator on the National Science Foundation RAPID Award, is collaborating with other researchers at FIU’s College of Engineering & Computing (CEC), College of Arts, Sciences & Education (CASE), and Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine(HWCOM) to investigate whether it’s possible that antibodies people carry from other viral infections are fighting COVID-19.
Professor Receives $100,000 NIH Equipment Award, Fahad Saeed has been awarded an equipment grant titled, “Compute-Cluster for Deep-Learning Models for Mass Spectrometry based Proteomics data” as a supplement to his existing NIH R01 award. This award provides $100,000 of equipment funds toward the purchase of a computer cluster that includes multicore and GPU-based nodes.