Mavis Faulty Fellows seek careers in academia


Victoria Halewicz, ECE

The Mavis Future Faculty Fellows (MF3) Academy helps prepare Engineering at Illinois doctoral students who aim to become the next generation of great engineering professors. This year, four ECE PhD candidates have been selected: Dong San ChoiPhilip E Pare, JrCarl William Pearson, and Yingxiang Yang. All four are affiliated with the Coordinated Science Lab.

Four CSL PhD candidates have been selected as Mavis Future Faculty Fellows: Dong San Choi, Philip E Pare, Jr, Carl William Pearson, and Yingxiang Yang.
Four CSL PhD candidates have been selected as Mavis Future Faculty Fellows: Dong San Choi, Philip E Pare, Jr, Carl William Pearson, and Yingxiang Yang.

D.S. Choi's dissertation research focuses on engineering retention with an emphasis on students’ grit, mindsets, and persistence. He hopes to better understand the challenges and difficulties of students so that he can create interventions to support them through such experiences. He is also working with researchers at Purdue University to better understand how non-cognitive and affective factors impact engineering student success.

He is advised by ECE Professor Emeritus Michael C Loui, a current CSL affiliate who is currently at Purdue University endowed with the Dale and Suzi Gallagher Professorship in Engineering Education. Choi received his bachelor’s and master's degrees from ECE, advised by Gilmore Family Endowed Professorship in Electrical and Computer Engineering J. Gary Eden and Adjunct Associate Professor Sung-Jin Park. Eden is also a CSL affiliate.

Choi has held teaching assistantships for ECE 110, Introduction to ElectronicsECE 199 (ECE 110 Merit)ECE 290 (now ECE120, Introduction to Computing), and ECE 340, Semiconductor Electronics.

Carl Pearson is advised by ECE Professor and CSL affiliate Wen-Mei W Hwu. Pearson’s research focuses on making high-performance computer programming more accessible and improving productivity in people’s lives. He has been a student in the Center for Cognitive Computing Systems Research (C3SR), a collaboration between Illinois and IBM

“Carl is developing the Cognitive Application Builder, which is a combines an intuitive description of distributed applications with compiler and runtime techniques for high-performance execution, debugging, and application introspection,” said Hwu. 

Through his activities in C3SR, Pearson has also mentored and inspired undergraduate students. He has trained them through hands-on experience in developing the cognitive computing application project called DISCVR.

He has remained an active member on campus through his involvement in Amnesty International and as an officer on the Board of Governors of the University YMCA. Pearson has also held several teaching assistantships: ECE408, Heterogeneous Parallel Programming at ECE ILLINOIS and two classes at Harvey Mudd College.

“I believe that a research career uniquely blends the opportunity to solve real problems and disseminate knowledge about those solutions. My overarching career goal is to find a way to harmoniously accomplish both of those opportunities, and I believe that an academic career is the most promising route towards that goal,” said Pearson.

Yingxiang Yang is co-advised by ECE Associate Professor Negar Kiyavash ISE Assistant Professor Niao He, both conducting research at CSL.

“My main research area is to develop learning algorithms that perform statistical inference over data,” said Yang. In one of his research projects, he developed a nonparametric online learning algorithm for estimating the triggering functions of the multivariate Hawkes process, a statistical model that is being widely adopted in other fields of science and engineering, such as finance and seismology. 

He taught ECE110 in fall 2015 and was included in the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students. 

His aspirations include "exploring new directions [through research] while helping new generations of young people, especially those from my own country,” Yang said. “I want to share my knowledge and personal experiences with my students, to encourage them on their path of becoming engineers and scientists.”

Philip Paré’s research was featured in a previous article. The full list of 2017-18 Mavis Faculty Fellows is available online.