CSL student earns 2020 IBM PhD Fellowship Award


Rebecca Gorski, CSL

Each year, IBM receives hundreds of applications from universities across the world for their prestigious IBM PhD Fellowship Award program. This year, CSL’s Saurabh Jha, student of Ravi Iyer, has been selected as just one of 24 nominees to have earned this honor.

 Iyer noted that the highlight of Jha’s work was bringing together probabilistic graph models (PGMs) with real time data from high speed networks and filesystems to detect and isolate performance and reliability problems. This work, supported by Sandia and the Department of Energy became the foundation for work on IBM Cloud with a similar goal that Saurabh developed and implemented in the summer, now subject of an IBM patent.

“I am grateful to receive an award that recognizes the impact of my current and planned research work,” shared Jha, a computer science graduate student. “Right now, my research
Saurabh Jha
Saurabh Jha
focuses on designing model-driven machine learning techniques for building trustworthy autonomous systems, including frameworks for managing, monitoring, and assessing computers systems that use machine learning techniques.”

As a recipient, Jha will work closely with an IBM mentor to help build out his proposed research ideas. He will receive a stipend for his living expenses and travel, as well as an educational allowance covering his tuition fees. Collaborating with IBM gives Jha the unique opportunity to evaluate and scale his projects on IBM systems, including the IBM Cloud.

Jha’s prior work with the IBM Cloud has been advantageous to both Jha’s development as a researcher and to the IBM team, making his mentor’s decision to nominate him for the fellowship that much easier.

During an internship with IBM’s Cloud team, led by CSL alum Dr. Hari Ramasamy, Jha was able to enhance his work on Blue Waters, NCSA’s large-scale high-performance supercomputer, now integrating it into IBM Cloud technology. Seeing that Jha was well-received by the team for his contributions, Iyer was confident that IBM would support his fellowship position, as well.

Iyer also noted that he was proud of Kaleidoscope, a Jha-led project that the two worked on concerning the ability to localize performance problems and offer optimal mitigations in large computer systems. Jha was able to adapt this project for functional use at IBM and provide Iyer with more evidence that Jha was an exceptional candidate for this award.

Ravi Iyer
Ravi Iyer
“This outstanding recognition from a major company is particularly appreciated as it underscores the importance of university/industry collaboration,” shared Iyer, CSL professor and George and Ann Fisher Distinguished Professor of Engineering. “Saurabh is a delightful individual to work with and is always willing to help and engage with others. It is great to see him become so successful.”

Jha notes that Iyer’s advice has been instrumental in shaping his research direction over the years, and also mentioned CSL Professor Zbigniew Kalbarczyk and his teammates in the DEPEND research group for encouraging him to think critically, challenge himself, and work collaboratively to develop solutions that are novel, practical, and have a positive social impact.

“I am thankful to my friends and colleagues both in the Coordinated Science Lab and the Computer Science Department for providing me with the opportunities that have shaped my personal and professional life,” said Jha.