Award Ceremony 2022

Faculty Awards


Excellence in Teaching 

Dr. Gregory Murad Reis

Dr. Reis has had a phenomenal teaching performance this year. For the 2021-2022  academic year, he taught 15 undergraduate courses. In the Summer of 2021, he led three  additional undergraduate courses; Across all of these different courses, he has a  weighted overall assessment in the Student Perception of Teaching  or SPOTs score of 4.83 out of 5 across 367 responses. Student comments included, “Professor Reis is  incredible. Loves teaching, passionate about his subject.”, Professor Reis is excellent!”, “He  loves what he does, and this passion translates directly into his ability to teach.”, “…communicates well with students no matter what the situation is.” And finally, “One of the  best professors at FIU.” He is a role model for our underserved and underrepresented  students and serves as a faculty advisor for two student organizations. More importantly,  he is willing to share his teaching expertise in assisting other faculty in teaching-related  efforts.


Excellence in Teaching 

Dr. Charlyne Walker

As you all know, teaching is the heart of our work, and this year’s recipients demonstrate  that fact. Dr. Walker strives to be at the forefront of innovative teaching methods and  activities. Many of her courses include major capstone-style team projects, in which she  guides student teams through multiple weeks, from project conception through  completion. Despite regularly teaching overload courses, she is highly available to all her  students. She surveys students about course expectations and results and periodically  updates course materials to improve them. She also consults with other faculty to review  course content. In short, she is dedicated to providing high-quality, active learning  courses that meet students’ desires and expectations.

Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Cuong Nguyen

Dr. Cuong Nguyen taught two graduate courses during the 2021-2022 year: Machine Learning and Introduction to AI. The Intro to AI is a core class of our Master’s in Data Science and AI. The Machine Learning course can present challenges for instructors due to a variety of prerequisites needed for specific topics, and the need to incorporate recent innovations into the course. Dr. Nguyen taught these classes for the first time at FIU to 70 students obtaining an excellent Student Perception of Teaching (SPOT) score of 4.69 in 52 responses.

He also actively collected feedback to improve his classes and proposed creative assignments and strategies to enhance student learning.

Excellence in Applied Research

Dr. Janki Bhimani

Dr. Bhimani developed new performance modeling techniques to model learning algorithms and predict their behavior in terms of runtime (for both computation and communication) on an array of computing platforms. Her novel insight was combining statistical modeling techniques like Markov chain and queuing theory with machine learning to achieve the much-needed balance between fast, accurate, and adaptable predictions. Her prediction models are parameterized using small datasets but can predict accurately for large datasets.

As a result, in 2021, she and her collaborators were awarded a patent, published in the IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology and ACM Transactions on Storage, among other venues, and were nominated for the best paper award at the 2022 Design, Automation, and Test in Europe Conference

Excellence in Fundamental Research

Dr. Bogdan Carbunar

Dr. Bogdan Carbunar researched detection and defenses for online fraud, abuse, and censorship resistance. He also developed the first provably secure, censorship-resistant, cost-efficient storage system with anonymous and private access, built on top of commercial cryptocurrency transactions.

His research appeared in prestigious forums such as the IEEE Transactions of Knowledge and Data Engineering and the 37th ACM/SIGAPP Symposium on Applied Computing

Excellence in Mentorship

Ms. Tiana Solis

During her 25 years of service at the KFSCIS, Ms. Tiana Solis has mentored countless students since she was hired as an instructor and academic advisor. She directed the Florida IT Pathways to Success program for FIU, where she mentored 141 academically talented students with financial needs.

Ms. Soliis also supervises more than 25 undergraduate teaching assistants (UTAs) participating in the Center for Inclusive

Excellence in Service

Dr. Leonardo Bobadilla

At the university level, he served on the AI Subject-matter Working Group for the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). He has also served on FIU’s Sabbatical Committee and the Faculty Senate Technology Committee. His work as Chair of the School’s Hiring Committee for 2021-2022 deserves special recognition.

He led our hiring efforts by evaluating approximately two hundred candidates, organizing faculty discussions, and establishing and coordinating interviews and candidate presentations. He interviewed all 56 finalists and attended every one of their presentations.

Student Awards


Overall Outstanding Graduate Student

Sheila Alemany

  • Sheila is a Ph.D. candidate at KFSCIS under the supervision of Dr. Niki Pissinou, a 2021 NSF Graduate Research Fellow and 2019 National GEM Consortium full fellow with MIT Lincoln Laboratory. She graduated magna cum laude from Florida International University with a B.Sc. in mathematics and a B.Sc. in computer science in 2019 and will receive her M.Sc. in Telecommunications and Networking in the Fall of 2022.
  • During her undergraduate studies, Sheila co-authored five peer-reviewed papers in IEEE and ACM conference proceedings on data behavior modeling and trend prediction for mobile wireless sensor networks, with one of the articles receiving the best paper award. She was also a finalist for the 2018 Computing Research Association (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher award. She was funded through an Army Educational Outreach Program and NSF REU SITE award. Before beginning her graduate studies, she also completed two summer research internships at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Sheila’s current research area is in adversarial machine learning, and she has published two peer-reviewed articles in IEEE Big Data and AAAI’s SafeAI proceedings.
  • Since 2020, Sheila has also served as a graduate research mentor for the NSF-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and Research Experience for Teachers (RET) programs.
  • Congratulations to Sheila!


Best Graduate Student Research

Khandaker Mamun Ahmed

  • Khandaker is a Ph.D. Candidate at KFSCIS working under the supervision of Dr. Hadi Amini as a part of the Sustainability, Optimization, and Learning for InterDependent networks laboratory (solid lab).
  • DHis research focuses on the foundations of federated deep learning and its widespread applications in healthcare, homeland security, and autonomous driving systems. Mamun’s research outcomes have served as preliminary results that led to external research grants, including the machine learning component of a $1.2M from the Florida Department of Health. He is also the core researcher in a project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on deploying agent-based machine learning algorithms to identify anomalous activities. His research has been published in various recognized venues including International Conference on Machine Learning and Applications and International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks.
  • In addition to being highly active with notable achievements in research, Mamun is also contributing to graduate and undergraduate student mentorship to share his knowledge with FIU students.
  • Based on his high-impact research on the theory and application aspects of federated deep learning, Mamun is a brilliant scholar with a bright future.
  • Congratulations to Khandaker!


Special Recognition Awards

OVERALL Outstanding Undergraduate Student

Ziad Malik

  • Active member of the Technology Committee and Honor Society Member at Upsilon Pi Epsilon, The largest Technology Organization at Florida International University. Mathematics Teaching Assistant since Fall of 2019 for Classes such as Pre-calculus, Trigonometry, and Calculus I.
  • Member of Project Downtown Miami, where he and other members travel to Downtown Miami every Saturday to feed the homeless of the community.
  • Currently under the supervision of Colonel Jerry Miller and Dr. S.S. Iyengar while conducting research on improving the Gauss Markov Mobility model for NS3 Network Simulation Tools for an overall improved Flying Adhoc Network.
  • He is also conducting research to create an improved 3D Implementation of the Model for a more realistic approach to communication protocols for simulations of drones and other unmanned vehicles.
  • Internships: A Previous Software Engineering Intern at Mastercard (Summer 2022), he was able to learn how to implement his knowledge gained over the past 4 years at F.I.U and learn new information about industry in Computer Science.
  • He is applying to join the MS in CS program in Spring 2023.
  • Congratulations to Ziad!


Best Undergraduate Student Teaching

Julian Gasteli

  • Julian is graduating with the BS in Computer Science degree.
  • Julian first joined STARS as a tutor in Fall of 2021. He is currently covering 15 different courses for STARS, including many of the high-level courses, while maintaining a 3.97 GPA in his own coursework.
  • Student feedback has been extremely positive for the assistance he has provided to KFSCIS students.
  • STARS is proud to call Julian one of our very best!
  • Congratulations to Julian!


Best Undergraduate Student Teaching

Marcos Cajiao

  • Marcos joined STARS tutoring in the Summer 2022 term.
  • He covers a total of 9 courses for STARS. Feedback from the students that he assists has been overwhelmingly positive. Marcos is a Veteran, having served 5 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, in which he served as a Training Chief/Personnel and Logistics Supervisor.
  • He actively organized, scheduled, and supervised training developments of a U.S. Marine Battalion composed of 900+ individuals within a fiscal year composed of over 50+ qualification events.
  • Marcos has also helped to train new STARS tutor recruits and participated in the tutor hiring decisions for both Fall 2022 and Spring 2023.
  • Marcos is graduating with the BS in Information Technology degree. STARS is proud to recognize this outstanding student tutor!
  • Congratulations to Marcos!


Best Undergraduate Student Service

Cristhofer Lugo

  • Cristhofer Lugo is a B.S. in Computer Science student at KFSCIS. More importantly, Cris is the first international student to be elected as President of the Student Government Association and is the first College of Engineering and Computing and KFSCIS student to also hold that position.
  • As the President of the SGA, Cris has the honor of representing our FIU students on the University Board of Trustees, where his international roots, technological expertise, and a deep sense of service enable him to offer a unique perspective on the many challenges facing our students and the university.
  • As President, he wants to increase student engagement while providing a voice for all FIU students, particularly minority and international students. His goal is to find ways to bring different groups and student organizations together, boost FIU pride and solve problems by getting more students involved.
  • Congratulations, Cris!


Best Undergraduate Student Service

Evelyn Cao

  • Evelyn is the Creative Director for UPE and helps advance the design and creative initiatives to spread UPE and KFSCIS to all parts of the school and make it easier for students to join the organization. She also helps design flyers and posters when needed while keeping design guidelines in check.
  • Through her outreach, UPE and KFSCIS are reaching a wide variety of students interested in technology and keeping our local community informed of key events such as shell hacks that help us establish an outstanding reputation as a top 50 school and keep recruiting top students to our program.
  • Evelyn earned her B.A. in Art with a minor in Art History at FIU before becoming an IT student, so she has a deep appreciation for the arts and artists.
  • Evelyn works as a student at the School to help with advertising, social media, and marketing, in support of the School and all of our student organizations, where she helps in updating our designs and meeting the needs of the School.
  • Evelyn personified the high level of service to others along with personal excellence that is the hallmark of our KFSCIS students.
  • Congratulations Evelyn!


Staff Awards


Best Technical Staff

John Flynn

  • John is an indispensable member of the School’s tech team. He is known for his encyclopedic knowledge as a system administrator for Linux and macOS systems. What is remarkable about John is his great attitude when given a challenge. The more complex the problem, the more interested he is.
  • John has tackled critical challenges, such as migrating our Linux OS platform from Centos to Alma. He has developed and deployed remote management tools for macOS and upgraded our wireless system. John is the team lead in managing the school’s backup systems.
  • John, thanks for your dedication and meaningful contribution to the school’s success.


Best Administrative Staff

Rebeca Arocha

  • Rebeca provides the contact between FIU graduate admissions, our School, and our students. She assists with the application process, from beginning to end, and is the single point of contact for the admissions process for all our Accelerated Pathway Undergraduates, Masters, and Doctoral students.
  • Working hand-in-hand with the Graduate Program Director and the Graduate Program Specialist, she advises students and directs them as needed from their very first day to their last.
  • She is an excellent source of information for everyone from planning out their program to make sure they meet the University Graduate School timelines, to recruiting new students for our many programs.
  • Congratulations, Rebeca!


Best Advising Staff

Ruth Suarez

  • In the last year, the KFSCIS Advising Team has gone through many changes, challenges, and opportunities. During this time, Ruth has continuously shown service excellence, supported team members, and set an example to others.
  • Ruth serves as a resource and mentor to her colleagues and treats our students with fairness, and respect, as well as going the extra mile when necessary.
  • We want to thank Ruth for her years of service and continued dedication and support to the Advising Team and to the School.
  • Congratulations, Ruth!




Photo Gallery:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.