Josue Nassar, a PhD candidate in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was one of five finalists for the Chancellor Distinguished PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards, which recognize work done across the State University of New York (SUNY) system to address some of society’s most pressing issues.
Nassar was named a finalist for his dissertation, “Bayesian Machine Learning for Analyzing and Controlling Neural Populations.” He received a $1,000 award, which was announced January 19 by SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr.
First place was awarded to Arshad Arjunan Nair from the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at the University at Albany for his dissertation, “The Role of Ammonia in Atmospheric New Particle Formation and Implications for Cloud Condensation Nuclei.”
Nassar received his BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from Stony Brook University in 2016 and 2018, respectively. His research interest lies at the intersection of computational neuroscience, reinforcement learning, signal processing and Bayesian machine learning.
“In his dissertation, Josue employs modern machine learning methods to build novel generative models and design learning and control algorithms. A particularly interesting contribution in his research is a system designed to generate spatio-temporal data which achieves dynamical descriptions at multiple levels of resolution,” said Petar Djuric, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Advised by Memming Park and Mónica Bugallo, Josue was both our undergraduate and graduate student, so we are especially proud of his achievements and recognition.”
The Chancellor Distinguished PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards were created to recognize the very best PhD dissertations in the SUNY system. SUNY graduates about 1,200 PhD students each year from its doctoral-granting campuses, with fields of study ranging from agriculture, biology, physics, and social sciences to engineering and the fine arts. Competitions such as the Dissertation Awards bring attention to the critical work being undertaken by the next generation of future leaders and researchers.
“SUNY offers a vibrant research environment where students come to join a community of scholars striving to use their unique talents to make the world a better place,” King said. “The exceptional recipients of this year’s Chancellor PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards will undoubtedly go on to spark new ideas and change the way we think about everything from cloud formation to cognitive function.”