Five SEAS computer science students named 2011 Siebel Scholars

Siebel Scholars program recognizes outstanding graduate students from the world’s most prestigious graduate schools

PALO ALTO, Calif. — September 1, 2010 — Five stellar students dedicated to the study of computer science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) were named among the recipients of the 2011Siebel Scholars awards.

Karim Atiyeh (M.S. candidate); Michael Lyons (Ph.D. candidate); Geoffrey Mainland (Ph.D. candidate); Rohan Murty (Ph.D. candidate); and Yinan Zhu '11 (joint A.B./S.M. candidate) will all receive a $35,000 award for their final year of graduate studies.

From facial recognition to CPU brains to novel wireless networks, the scholarship winners are exploring the frontiers of computer science.

The SEAS-affiliated students in computer science are among other honorees hailing from Carnegie Mellon University, MIT, Stanford University, Tsinghua University (China), University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Siebel Scholars are selected from among students who rank in the top of their class and are chosen by the dean of their respective schools on the basis of outstanding academic achievement and demonstrated qualities of leadership.

Cherry A. Murray, Dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, will host a reception for the winners later in the fall.

Karim Atiyeh (M.S. candidate)

Karim is pursuing a Master's degree in Computer Science from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. After having attended the Research Science Institute held a tMIT in 2006, where he researched speech processing, Karim enrolled at Harvard to study Electrical and Computer Engineering. Through his undergraduate years, he has conducted research on mobile computing as well as motion and facial recognition and is currently focusing on Computer Vision. He also served as a Teaching Fellow for Harvard’s introductory computer science course. In the summer of 2008, He worked as firmware engineer at International Gaming Technologies. In the summer of 2009, he worked as a Developer Evangelist at Microsoft Paris office.In July 2010, he represented Harvard University at the Shanghai World Expo student forum on renewable energy and sustainability. Karim also played squash for the Lebanese national team and has served on the social board of the Woodbridge society of international students.

Michael Lyons (Ph.D. candidate)

Michael is currently a fifth year Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University,where he is currently working on accelerator-based computing. He is currently applying this work to the Robobees project, for which is he developing the robotic bee's CPU brain. Michael has also worked at VMware, Microsoft, and Olympus Optical. In addition, he earned his BSE in Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and did a semester abroad at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Geoffrey Mainland (Ph.D. candidate)

Geoffrey's research focuses on tools and techniques for building correct systems from resource-constrained components. Such components can be cheaper, smaller, easier to deploy, or more amenable to solving certain classes of problems relative to general purpose devices. However, most existing programming models are designed for general purpose computing and often under perform when applied to specialized components.Geoffrey's recent work on language-based support for sensor networks and GPUs establishes new methods for applying high-level languages to low-level devices. He has also contributed to the open source Haskell compiler GHC. Before returning to graduate school, Geoffrey worked for several years in the handheld device space in Silicon Valley. He enjoys teaching and has served as a teaching fellow as both an undergraduate and a graduate student.He earned a Certificate of Distinction in Teaching for his work in Harvard’s Information Systems course.

Rohan Murty (Ph.D. Candidate)

Rohan is a doctoral student in Computer Science at Harvard University.He completed his B.S. in computer science from Cornell in 2005. As a graduate student at Harvard, Rohan has lead several research projects including WhiteFi, the first wireless network to operate over the Television white spaces and was awarded the best paper at the SIGCOMM conference in 2009. He has served as a Teaching Assistant for several courses, and was named Head Teaching Fellow for Harvard’s Systems Programming and Machine Organization course in 2008. Rohan was also one among only 12 recipients of the Microsoft Research Graduate Fellowship between 2008-2010.

Yinan Zhu '11 (A.B./S.M. candidate)

Yinan (Benny) is currently pursuing a joint A.B./S.M in Economics and Computer Science at Harvard University. His extracurricular experiences include serving as the Director of Chinese Operations of the Harvard College Association for U.S.-China Relations;teaching ESL and civics courses to the Chinese community of the greater Boston area; and organizing on-campus events as the Educational and Political Chair of the Harvard Radcliffe Chinese Students Association.His professional experiences involve research in quantitative finance and trading on a high-frequency market-making desk. Finally, Benny enjoys tennis and snowboarding.


About the Siebel Scholars Foundation

The Siebel Scholars program was founded in 2000 to recognize the most talented students at the world’s leading graduate schools of business, computer science, and bioengineering and to form an active,lifelong community among an ever-growing group of leaders.

Today, more than 600 of the world’s brightest minds are Siebel Scholars. This exceptional group has the unique opportunity to directly influence the technologies, policies, and economic and social decisions that shape the future.  Siebel Scholars serve as key advisors to the Siebel Foundation, guiding the development of innovative programs the Foundation initiates.

The Siebel Scholars Foundation is funded by the Siebel Foundation. Established as a private foundation in 1996, the Siebel Foundation is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation.

Its mission is to support projects and organizations that work to improve the quality of life, environment, and education of its community members.

For more information please visit

Topics: Computer Science, Awards