Two computer science doctoral candidates in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, have received an IBM Fellowship, a competitive international program honoring exceptional doctoral students who have an interest in solving problems essential to innovation.

Bireswar Laha of Blacksburg, Va., is advised by Doug Bowman a professor of computer science and director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech. Laha is originally from Konnagar, West Bengal, India.

Laha's dissertation research is based upon finding the effects of display fidelity of virtual reality systems on performance of different tasks with volume datasets generated through CT and MRI scans in various scientific domains.

"I am also developing novel 3-D interaction metaphors for interaction with 3-D scientific datasets," said Laha.

He spent the previous two summers interning at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., where he developed a prototype for a patented concept of "visual integration" with Paul Borrel, senior research manager of the IBM Research division. While at the center, Laha also worked on a few projects for the Smarter Energy Research Institute (SERI), touted as a big initiative by IBM for Smarter Energy Platforms (SEP) at the Watson lab.

Min Li, also of Blacksburg, Va., is being awarded the fellowship for the second consecutive year. Li is originally from Shishi, Fujan Province, China.

Li focuses her research on distributed storage systems for the emerging virtualized cloud computing systems. The goals of this research are to address the increasing performance gap between computing power and storage technology, especially for high performance and cloud computing, of vital interest to IBM.

She interned with IBM at the Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., working with Dinesh Subhraveti, a senior scientist, to help improve the performance of MapReduce applications in cloud computing.

Li has also worked in the Distributed Systems and Storage Research Laboratory at Virginia Tech for the past five years, under the advisement of Ali R. Butt, associate professor of computer science.

"I am impressed by Min Li's ability to quickly understand large-scale and complex computer systems and their interactions, from the design phase to actual implementation of deployable software," said Butt, a past recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER award. "She has interned at various top-notch laboratories, and the continued offers of internships and jobs are a testament to her research potential."

Laha earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics and computing from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur of Kharagpur, India, in 2006.

Li received her bachelor's degree in computer science in 2005 from East China Normal University of Shanghai, China, and her master's degree, also in computer science in 2008 from the University of Science and Technology of China.

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