Five SEAS computer science students named 2014 Siebel Scholars

Siebel Scholars program recognizes outstanding students from the world’s most prestigious graduate schools

September 27, 2013

Cambridge, Mass. - September 27, 2013 - Five graduate students in computer science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have been named 2014 Siebel Scholars.

Rosario John Aquino '14, Hossein Azari Soufiani, Xi Alice Gao, Tsung-Han Lin, and Ryan Wisnesky will each receive a $35,000 award for their final year of graduate studies.

These students are among 85 selected worldwide from 17 partnering institutions by the Siebel Scholars Foundation, which recognizes the most talented students at the world’s leading graduate schools of business, bioengineering, and computer science.

The Siebel Scholars are chosen by the deans of their respective schools on the basis of outstanding academic achievement and demonstrated qualities of leadership. On average, Siebel Scholars rank in the top 5% of their class, many within the top 1%.

“It is my great pleasure to congratulate the Siebel Scholars Class of 2014 and to welcome them to the Siebel Scholars community,” said Thomas M. Siebel, Chairman of the Siebel Scholars Foundation. “They join a formidable group of entrepreneurs, researchers, and philanthropists who are directly influencing the technologies, policies, and economic and social decisions that shape the future.”

Student Biographies

Rosario John Aquino '14

As an A.B./S.M. student at Harvard SEAS, R. J. has focused on the intersection of education and technology. He has served as a teaching fellow for four different courses, including as a head teaching fellow for CS 50, Harvard’s introductory programming course. He has also worked as a software developer for CS 50, helping to write, test, and support educational tools for the Harvard community. These tools include Harvard Courses, a course shopping tool, and educational software for many courses at Harvard, including CS 50x, offered through HarvardX. His work with CS 50 has led to research opportunities in education and computer science, including a publication on distance education at CCSCNE. He is currently pursuing research in the areas of distance education and computer science education.

Hossein Azari Soufiani

Hossein Azari is a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at Harvard SEAS. He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University and an A.M. in Statistics from Harvard University. His research focuses on statistical machine learning with applications in social computation. He has developed Graphlets, a fast algorithm for decomposing large social networks. His current research focuses on designing scalable algorithms for analyzing rank data in social choice and demand estimation. He is spearheading a collaboration with researchers from economics and the mathematics departments at Harvard, and supervises two undergraduate researchers. He is interested in teaching and has been a teaching fellow for more than ten courses in computer science, statistics and applied mathematics. His recent experience was being the head teaching fellow for the machine learning course CS 181 (with 140 students) at Harvard. He also served as the president of Harvard's graduate dormitory council from 2010 to 2011.

Xi Gao

Xi Alice Gao is a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at Harvard SEAS. Supervised by Prof. Yiling Chen, Alice’s research focuses on designing systems for harnessing collective human intelligence, drawing inspirations from both artificial intelligence and economics. She enjoyed two research internships at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, and in New York City. At Harvard, Alice co-organized the weekly seminars of the artificial intelligence research group, and she hosted new international graduate students through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences' host student program. Before coming to Harvard, Alice obtained a combined honors degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from University of British Columbia. In summer 2007, Alice was a technical intern in the IBM Extreme Blue program. At UBC, Alice spent three semesters as a teaching assistant for an introductory computer science class, and she actively participated in the UBC Computer Science tri-mentoring program.

Tsung-Han Lin

Tsung-Han Lin is a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard SEAS, working towards his degree under the supervision of Prof. H. T. Kung. His research focuses on computations of compressive sensing and sparse representations, as well as their applications in wireless system design. He received his B.S. and M.S. from National Taiwan University. He recently spent a summer as an intern at Intel Corporation in Santa Clara. At Harvard, he served as the vice president of the Taiwanese student association. Tsung-Han is also a recipient of the Kao fellowship at Harvard.

Ryan Wisnesky

Ryan Wisnesky is currently a Ph.D. student in computer science at Harvard SEAS. His research focuses on the design and implementation of programming languages for information integration. In particular, he is interested in applying modern category-theoretic mathematical techniques to address longstanding foundational problems. After graduating, he intends to continue this line of research as a postdoctoral scholar at MIT. Ryan has maintained an active collaboration with IBM during his entire academic career, resulting in five publications, many internships, and numerous patent disclosures. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics and computer science from Stanford University.

About the Siebel Foundation

The Siebel Scholars program was founded in 2000 by the Siebel Foundation to recognize the most talented students at the world’s leading graduate schools of business, computer science, and bioengineering. Today, the Foundation's active community of 870 leaders serve as advisors to the Siebel Foundation and works collaboratively to find solutions to society’s most pressing problems. 

The Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation, a nonprofit, public benefit corporation, was established as a private foundation in 1996. Its mission is to foster programs and organizations that improve the quality of life, environment, and education of its community members. The Siebel Foundation funds projects to support the homeless and underprivileged, educational and research programs, public health, and alternative energy solutions. The Siebel Foundation engages in strategic philanthropy; as such, it does not entertain grant requests, but invests in targeted highly leveraged programs and in projects it founds and operates. For more information, please visit