Two upperclass Computer Science students were recently recognized for their academic excellence. The Merit Award for a Computer Science Senior went to Philip Taffet, and the Junior Merit Award went to Ethan Perez.
Philip Taffet worked as a Rice University research assistant on the HPCToolkit team while still a high school student. As a Rice freshman, he accepted an offer to work as a research intern at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to which he added industry internships at both Microsoft and Chevron before he graduated. Taffet also launched a startup with two other Rice CS majors, Jake Nyquist and Brett Gutstein. Through their startup, Steward Technologies, the team developed an app for auto manufacturers to use at special test driving events. His interest in high performance computing led to a travel award to attend a super computing conference, SC16, in Salt Lake City; it was his second SC trip. Taffet also participated in Rice teams at the annual ACM Intercollegiate Programming Contest. His teams placed first in three of his four years and his final team advanced to the World Finals in Phuket, Thailand last summer.
Following his freshman year, Ethan Perez interned with Google, then received a prestigious Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers Fellowship, which would match him with a summer internship in a Bay Area startup. Ironically, Perez had already successfully applied for an internship with Uber, one of the KPCB partners. He completed the fellowship program and his internship with Uber, then turned his attention to research. After his junior year, Perez began researching deep generative models and unsupervised learning approaches such as Generative Adversarial Networks and Variational Autoencoders with Dr. Aaron Courville at Université de Montréal.