Carnegie Mellon University
February 11, 2015

Carnegie Mellon Faculty, Student Win Carnegie Science Center Awards

By Jocelyn Duffy / 412-268-9982

Carnegie Science Center LogoThe Carnegie Science Center will present five Carnegie Mellon University faculty members and one doctoral student with Carnegie Science Awards at a banquet on May 8.

The Carnegie Science Awards recognize and promote outstanding science and technology achievements in western Pennsylvania. Since 1997, they have honored the accomplishments of more than 400 individuals and organizations whose contributions in the fields of science, technology and education have impacted the region’s industrial, academic and environmental vitality.

The Carnegie Mellon recipients are:

David Brumley, University/Post-Secondary Educator Award

David BrumleyBrumley, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and a courtesy faculty member of the School of Computer Science, was recognized for engaging students in the field of computer security. As technical director of CyLab, Brumley's vision is to develop systems that automatically check the world's software for exploitable bugs. Through his courses on computer and software security, Brumley's goal is to train the generation of “white hat hackers” to spot vulnerabilities in systems and prevent future cyber attacks. Brumley is the faculty mentor for the top internationally ranked hacking team Plaid Parliament of Pwning (PPP), and runs picoCTF, an annual computer security contest for high school students.

Shirley Ho, Emerging Female Scientist Award

Shirley HoHo, assistant professor of physics and member of the McWilliams Center for Cosmology, was recognized for her outstanding achievements in the field of cosmology, in which she is considered to be among the premier researchers in astrophysics for her research and her contributions to international collaborations. Ho has devised a method for controlling systematic errors in data from large astronomical surveys, which has led to some of the most accurate measurements of the scale of the universe. Ho serves as co-chair of the Clustering Working Group for the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, co-leader of the Large Scale Structure Working Group for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope’s Dark Energy Science Collaboration, and co-chair of the Lyman Alpha Forest Working Group for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. She also is a member of the NASA team of U.S. scientists participating in the science program for Euclid, a European satellite experiment.

Jeanne VanBriesenJeanne M. VanBriesen, Environmental Award

VanBriesen, the Duquesne Light Company Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was recognized for her water quality research. For the past 15 years, VanBriesen has focused on combined sewer overflows, drinking water quality and the impacts of resource extraction. Her research on the treatment and discharge of drilling wastewater was instrumental in developing state policy. VanBriesen currently serves on the U.S. EPA Science Advisory Board.

Danielle Chirdon, University/Post-Secondary Student Award

Danielle ChirdonChirdon, a doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry and a Department of Energy Fellow, was recognized for her research in inorganic chemistry and her outreach work with K-12 students. In the lab of Chemistry Professor Stefan Bernhard, Chirdon works on developing new materials for organic solar cells, the photogeneration of hydrogen, and rechargeable flow batteries. Chirdon founded and is co-president of Future Leaders in Science, an organization that provides outreach opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students in Carnegie Mellon’s Mellon College of Science, and is an active participant in DNAZone, the outreach program of Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Nucleic Acids Science and Technology.

Jesse SchellJesse Schell, Entrepreneur Award

Schell, Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Entertainment Technology at the Entertainment Technology Center, was recognized for producing an array of innovative and award-winning entertainment experiences through his work with Schell Games. Schell is a dominant force in the “transformational” game market, a phrase he coined to describe games that use entertainment mechanics to transform players in a positive and meaningful way.

Luis von Ahn, Information Technology Award

Luis von AhnVon Ahn, associate professor of computer science, was recognized for his work in solving large-scale problems through technology, specifically as co-creator of Duolingo, the free language learning platform used by 70 million people worldwide. Von Ahn, who earned his Ph.D. in computer science at Carnegie Mellon, began Duolingo as a research project at the university before launching it as a startup company along with his graduate student, Severin Hacker. Duolingo now offers more than 30 language courses and was selected by Apple as its iPhone App of the Year in 2013, and by Google as its Best of the Best for Android in 2013.