James F. Jakobsen Award Winner Spotlights, 2011

Congratulations to the 2011 Conference Winners!

At the 13th Annual James F. Jakobsen Conference, the following University of Iowa Graduate and Professional Students won awards for their graduate work. Please browse their profiles and get to know winners a little better.

Andrew Berns

Andrew Berns
Center Point
Home State: 
Home Country: 
What are some of your interests outside of school?: 
Motorcycling, fishing, watching movies
Who is your most significant mentor?: 
Professor Sukumar Ghosh has been a significant mentor for me. When I began my studies at the University of Iowa, I was unclear what research area I was most interested in. After taking several classes with Dr. Ghosh, I knew I wanted to work with self-stabilizing distributed systems. His patience and guidance have helped me learn the requisite background in the field, and his enthusiasm and interest in always finding new problems has kept me motivated and engaged.
What is your favorite Iowa City/Coralville Restaurant?: 
Are there any challenges you have faced as a graduate student at Iowa?: 
One of the biggest challenges I found when I came to graduate school was learning to approach tasks from a research-oriented perspective. As a graduate student, mastery of the material is important, but so is taking it a step further and adding to it. What you take out of classes as a graduate student is different than what you take out of classes as an undergraduate. The class material no longer stands alone, but rather is integrated into a bigger picture. Being aware of how class material (and your own research) fits into this big picture is important for a graduate student.
Previous Degrees Earned
Previous Degree [1]: 
B. S.
Degree [1] Area of Study: 
Computer Science
Degree [1] Institution Name: 
The University of Northern Iowa
Computer Science
What degree are you currently seeking?: 
Ph. D.
Area of Specialty: 
Brief thesis project description: 
My dissertation is about self-stabilizing overlay networks. Overlay networks are computers that are connected through "logical" links, such as your desktop and a server at Google. Self-stabilizing overlay networks can create these logical links automatically, no matter the initial state, and allow efficient communication in many systems.
Who is your Thesis Advisor?: 
Dr. Sukumar Ghosh and Dr. Sriram V. Pemmaraju
Why did you decide to go to graduate school?: 
I really enjoyed the challenge of learning new material and the satisfaction of solving problems as an undergraduate. Graduate school is another opportunity to learn new things and solve interesting problems. Even better, graduate school allows you to find new problems and solve them in unique ways that perhaps no one has ever tried. My desire to get this experience is why I decided to go to graduate school.
Why did you choose The University of Iowa for your graduate studies?: 
The University of Iowa's Department of Computer Science has excellent researchers in a variety of fields. The fact that I could select from such a wide variety of topics was important in my graduate school decision.
What are your long term goals beyond your graduate degree at Iowa?: 
I would like to find a job in academia where I can continue to define and solve new and interesting problems, while at the same time doing something else I enjoy - teaching.
How has your experience at Iowa allowed you to achieve your goals?: 
From the start, my advisors have helped me be the best candidate for the job I want. They have helped me build up my research record and have given me plenty of opportunities to meet others in the field. I have received teaching experience and advice from both my advisors and other faculty members in the department. The individual attention that faculty in the department gives to graduate students is very helpful and impressive.
What year did you win an award at the Jakobsen Conference?: 
What do you enjoy most about the Conference?: 
One of the best parts of the Jakobsen Conference is getting the chance to share research ideas with other students right here at the University of Iowa. There are interesting topics being explored all over campus, and it is rare to get the chance to see such a variety of research in such a local setting. Seeing so much in one day, without having any travel costs, is quite a treat!