Department of Computer Science

  • Emma Terry wins 2023 Miss UAB Scholarship Competition

    Terry also won the Social Change, Talent and Spirit awards, earning a total of $3,300 in scholarships.

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  • 12 honored for excellence in teaching

    Twelve faculty have been selected to receive the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, which honors those who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching. The 2022 honorees represent each school, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Honors College and the Graduate School.

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  • Harbert Institute honors Innovation Award winners, inducts first UAB class of National Academy of Inventors members

    At their annual Innovation Awards, UAB’s Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship celebrated innovators from all corners of campus for their accomplishments, inventions and ingenuity.

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  • Brasfields invest in the future of the Department of Computer Science

    For David and Phyllis Brasfield, Birmingham represents opportunity and growth. And, according to both Brasfields, UAB is at the heart of it all.

    Photo by Shannon RobinsonFor David and Phyllis Brasfield, Birmingham represents opportunity and growth. And, according to both Brasfields, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is at the heart of it all.

    “I think UAB is a hidden gem,” said Phyllis. “I just think it’s a wonderful university.”

    “For me, and for our companies, having access to all the talent that comes out of UAB has been one of the biggest benefits for me, personally,” added David, founder and CEO of NXTsoft, a secure data solutions software platform.

    The Brasfields’ relationship with UAB—and each other—began in the early 1980s. After graduating from high school, Phyllis was interested in a college that was both affordable and close to her hometown of Birmingham. David, on the other hand, wanted access to a first-class medical school. They explored their options and, eventually, both selected UAB.

    After arriving on campus, David pivoted from pre-med to computer science, and Phyllis pursued occupational therapy. Eventually, they crossed paths for the first time in a biology lab. The rest, as they say, is history.

    “We met and two years later we got married,” said David. “We lived on campus in Denman Hall.”

    The Brasfields finished their degrees and began building a life together in Birmingham. They raised four children—three of whom attended UAB—and David founded NXTsoft, which he still runs today.

    Although they graduated from UAB nearly 40 years ago, both Brasfields have stayed connected to the campus. Specifically, David has served on the Department of Computer Science Industrial Advisory Board, and, through that work, he has seen the department’s extraordinary growth in recent years.

    “Computer science, in general, is a great area to be in,” said David. “We have record enrollment.”

    Given their collective passion for both Birmingham and UAB, David and Phyllis were determined to find a way to support both faculty and students at the institution. In Spring 2022, they identified a clear area of need in the Department of Computer Science and, soon after, established the Phyllis and David Brasfield Endowed Faculty Scholar in Computer Science.

    “It was good to pour back into the school that’s been good to us and three of our kids,” said Phyllis.

    The generous gift will support the research efforts of a faculty member in the department. By doing so, the Brasfields hope to support recruitment and retainment efforts and, over time, attract innovative faculty members to UAB.

    “To help bring more kids to the university, we’ve got to have professors that want to teach here,” said David. “We want [the department] to have the ability to hire more professors, continue to grow, and handle the enrollment levels they’ve got. Also, the more students that come out of that program, the more opportunities there are for technology companies in Birmingham.”

    The College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Computer Science are grateful to the Brasfields for their gift and commitment to UAB.

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  • Computer science achieves record enrollment growth

    Dr. Yuliang Zheng shares impressive updates about the Department of Computer Science.

    The UAB Department of Computer Science has grown significantly in the past few years—both in the breadth of our academic program offerings and in our enrollment numbers. Currently, we offer four undergraduate programs, three master's programs, and a Ph.D. program. The combined number of majors at the undergraduate and graduate levels reached 920 in Spring 2022, representing a 318 percent increase from six years back. According to UAB’s most recent survey on first destinations of employment, 97 percent of our graduates found their first jobs within six months of graduating. Our graduates are highly sought-after by both industries and government agencies as cyber security specialists, software engineers, data scientists, IT system administrators, and application developers.

    Also, many of our students have turned into successful entrepreneurs, often starting their own companies in cutting-edge technology sectors. Our faculty are proud to be able to prepare the future workforce and support economic development priorities in Alabama and beyond. The success of the department can be attributed to multiple factors, the most important of which being the dedication of our faculty and staff to their jobs. The people within our department have exercised both bravery and adaptiveness in the rapidly evolving computing discipline and its associated industries, and I am proud of them for doing so. The second contributing factor is our ability to identify and establish degrees collaboratively in high-demand fields, including cyber security, bioinformatics, and data science. The third factor is our commitment to continuously improving curricula to respond to the fast-changing computing profession, often by taking advice from industry advisors of the department. Further, the department has invested heavily in keeping computing labs up to date with the latest hardware and software required by the curricula.

    The Department of Computer Science has also enjoyed fruitful collaborations with INTO UAB, an initiative that aims to increase the global diversity of the university’s student body. The department and INTO UAB have worked together to attract international students into our graduate programs. The collaboration has been a primary contributor to the phenomenal growth in enrollment numbers of the programs from 45 to 352 students in the past six years. To maintain our competitive edge, the department has focused our scholarly research in cyber security, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), biomedical applications, and high-performance computing. Our faculty conduct world class research in those areas, successively winning competitive research grants from federal, state, and industry funding programs. With the support and encouragement of stakeholders—including the newly established Phyllis and David Brasfield Endowed Faculty Scholar in Computer Science—the department plans to aggressively recruit multiple new faculty members of the highest caliber to support our growing academic programs and scholarly endeavors.

    Going forward, we are excited to work with the Department of Mathematics in proposing a new B.S. in Data Science degree with the goal of producing graduates with in-demand skills in AI and data analytics. We are also working on new courses to be included in the Blazer Core Curriculum to ensure future students from all disciplines develop critical data analytical skills and build the knowledge necessary to practice safe and effective digital lives.

    Read More: Computer science enrollment soars, powered by hot job market

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  • Fan finds new research opportunities, mentorship in computer science Ph.D. program

    Before applying for Ph.D. programs, prospective students often weigh several factors and priorities.

    Ke FanWhen Ke Fan was evaluating computer science doctoral programs, she prioritized opportunities to work alongside faculty who were conducting research she found interesting. So, before submitting her application to UAB, she sat down and reviewed the CVs of every faculty member in the Department of Computer Science—no small task. Eventually, she discovered assistant professor Sidharth Kumar, Ph.D.

    “His research was fascinating and primarily focused on high-performance computing (HPC) and data visualization,” said Fan. “I emailed Dr. Kumar and received a response, fortunately. He then interviewed me to check if my knowledge matched his requirements and gave me a detailed overview of his research, which further piqued my interest in it."

    It was significant for Fan to consider a university in Birmingham, Alabama, because she was living and working in Shanghai, China, at the time. She grew up in China and earned her bachelor’s degree in communication engineering at the University of Hankou in Wuhan in 2014. She subsequently obtained an M.S. in software engineering from the University of Tongji in Shanghai, China. During that time, she joined a double exchange degree program that enabled her to earn a second M.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Pavia in Pavia, Italy. After that, she accepted a role as a software engineer in 2017, but, within a few years on the job, she made a significant discovery.

    "After two years of work experience, I realized that even though my industry job was promising, my knowledge was insufficient," said Fan. "I desired a deeper understanding of computer science and a better chance to engage in work that benefits science and humanity."

    That desire to continue learning prompted her to start exploring Ph.D. programs. She was aware of UAB because her partner was enrolled at the university—so, given the existing connection, she decided to consider its computer science doctoral program. Specifically, she was curious if any faculty members in the Department of Computer Science were researching high performance computing (HPC). That is when Kumar, and his impressive CV, came into the picture.

    "Think of a supercomputer as a giant computing machine made of hundreds of thousands of commodity computers connected by fast networks, all working together to solve computationally demanding problems from a myriad of fields, including climate, energy, reasoning, AI/ML, and medicine. As you can expect, executing large-scale applications on these supercomputers necessitates a significant amount of data transfer and complicated communication over networks," said Fan. "These machines are large, heterogenous, and complex. Dr. Kumar's long-term aim is to develop infrastructure that makes it easier for users to run applications on supercomputers by optimizing data movement and communication patterns.”

    After speaking with Kumar, Fan decided UAB was a good fit, so she enrolled in 2019. Now, Kumar serves as her advisor, and she has worked on myriad research projects, including parallel I/O, optimizing collective communication, and performance visualization. These research results have been published in HiPC, HPDC, and SC, all of which are top-tier HPC venues.

    Fan was able to delve deeper into research through a grant that Kumar received from the National Science Foundation in 2022. The grant provided Fan the opportunity to serve as a summer intern at the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. Her 2022 summer culminated in a training program with 73 other researchers. The training program—which is titled the Argonne Training Program on Extreme-Scale Computing (ATPESC)— "provides intensive, two weeks of training on the key skills, approaches, and tools to design, implement, and execute computational science and engineering applications on current high-end computing systems and the leadership-class computing systems of the future.” Overall, Fan thoroughly enjoyed both the internship and the training program.

    “The three months at the Argonne National Laboratory were extremely productive. Not only did it facilitate direct collaboration with HPC experts, but it also gave me a sense of belonging to a large, supportive HPC community,” said Fan. “In addition, seeing the large supercomputers in the lab was a treat I never grew tired of. I anticipate returning to the lab and continuing to collaborate with it.”

    In addition, Fan got the chance to network with other researchers from across the country, hear from influential speakers, and deliver a presentation highlighting her research on HPCs.

    Fan is now back at UAB and working through her fourth year in the computer science doctoral program, alongside Kumar. As she looks to the future, she hopes to graduate in Spring 2024, then seek a postdoctoral fellowship with a national lab.

    “I hope to pursue an academic position after graduating from UAB," said Fan. "I would like to continue my current research directions while exploring new areas in HPC, targeting challenges pertaining to increasing heterogeneity and scale of modern supercomputers. I would also like to find new application domains that could potentially benefit from HPC.”

    Based on her work to date, she appears to be well-poised to achieve that goal.

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  • Researchers hack adaptive cruise control, then show how to make it safer

    Driver assistance tech that comes standard on new vehicles can be tricked into causing accidents — but there is a way to alert humans in time. A UAB grad student and his mentor will share their findings this month at a global conference.

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  • Do I need a VPN? Stay secure in the online world

    The growing dependence on technology, coupled with the increasing threat of intrusion and cyberattacks, requires greater security in the online world.

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  • Staying cyber-aware: New social media scams to watch out for

    As cybercriminals take to new tactics on social media, one UAB expert wants the public to be informed and stay aware of the newest scams.

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  • Kumar awarded grant from the National Science Foundation

    A nearly $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation has been awarded to a UAB Department of Computer Science assistant professor.

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  • Hasan places at digital health international conference

    Hasan received second place and a cash prize for the publication of his research paper.

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  • Small giving, large impact

    Gifts of amounts as much as $1,000 can make a tremendous impact in the life of a student in need, and one UAB donor is working to make that a reality.

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  • UAB graduate students receive Alabama EPSCoR Graduate Research Scholars Program Round 17 awards

    Five UAB graduate students received more than $118,000 in awards to strengthen graduate research projects.

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  • Computer science enrollment soars, powered by hot job market

    Enrollment is up more than 300 percent in the Department of Computer Science. Students and alumni of the B.A. and B.S. programs in computer science explain what attracted them to the field and to UAB.

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  • Computer science enrollment soars, powered by hot job market

    Enrollment is up more than 300 percent in the Department of Computer Science. Students and alumni of the B.A. and B.S. programs in computer science explain what attracted them to the field and to UAB.

    Read more...
  • Celebrate 15 books authored by CAS faculty in 2021

    Writing a book isn’t easy, but faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences produced more than a dozen in 2021. Thirteen faculty from eight departments wrote books on rhetoric and the Dead Sea Scrolls, pandemic bioethics, medical epigenetics, world politics and more.

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  • How to stay cybersafe when donating to charities

    UAB’s Ragib Hasan recommends what to look for and how to maintain cybersecurity when donating online.

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  • 2022 winners of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching

    The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching.

    2022 winners of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching: Ragib Hasan, Ph.D.; Dione King, Ph.D.; and Andrew Baer, Ph.D.The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching.

    Award winners must have held faculty status at UAB for a minimum of three years and may receive the award only once in any three-year period.

    The CAS Excellence in Teaching Committee selected award recipients for being outstanding representatives of effective teaching and thoughtful pedagogy from the Arts and Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    • Arts and Humanities: Andrew Baer, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of History
    • Natural Sciences and Mathematics: Ragib Hasan, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences: Dione King, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work

    Congratulations to this year’s winners. Also, in the near future, one of these faculty members will be awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

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  • Kumar’s National Science Foundation grant will build scalable software for the next generation supercomputer

    The NSF grant will be used to develop computer infrastructure and enhance student experience.

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  • Cadence Bank establishes a new scholarship for computer science students

    Mamoudou Barry and Ayusha Khadka, two computer science majors at UAB, are the first scholarship recipients through the new Cadence Bank Computer Science Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Program.

    Mamoudou Barry

    Mamoudou Barry and Ayusha Khadka, two computer science majors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, are the first scholarship recipients through the new Cadence Bank Computer Science Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Program.

    Established in 2021, this annual scholarship provides funding for tuition and fees for two students who are enrolled in a degree-granting program in the UAB Department of Computer Science with preference given to students from underrepresented backgrounds.

    Mamoudou Barry, a senior majoring in computer science at UAB, plans to pursue a career in software development after graduating from UAB in Fall 2022. “When I moved to the United States in 2017, I faced many challenges, such as learning English and working double shifts, but my dream to become a computer scientist and the first in my family to graduate from college gave me the courage not to give up,” Barry said. “[Cadence Bank’s] generosity is helping me to make my goals and dreams a reality.”

    Ayusha KhadkaAyusha Khadka, also a senior majoring in computer science, is pursuing her goal to become a software engineer after graduating from UAB. “This scholarship has helped me cover my tuition during my senior year,” she said. According to Khadka, the award from Cadence Bank has allowed her to continue her involvement in student organizations such as the Alabama Agni Dance Team, the Nepalese Student Association at UAB, and the TRIO STEM-H Program.

    The Department of Computer Science prides itself in providing innovative degree programs for both undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate degree programs include a B.S. in Computer Science, a B.A. in Computer Science, a B.S. in Bioinformatics (offered jointly with the UAB Heersink School of Medicine and the Department of Biology), and a B.S. in Digital Forensics (offered jointly with the Department of Criminal Justice). The department also offers an M.S. in Computer Science, an M.S. in Data Science, an interdisciplinary M.S. in Cyber Security (offered jointly with the Department of Criminal Justice), and a Ph.D. in Computer Science.

    Cadence Bank is a regional banking franchise with dual headquarters in Tupelo, Mississippi, and Houston, Texas, and a significant support center in Birmingham, Alabama.

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