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Three Researchers Win Chorafas Awards

July 8, 2013

Three UCLA Engineering students are among the 35 recipients of the Dimitris N. Chorafas Foundation 2013 awards. The awards honor innovative research in life sciences, biotechnology, applied mathematics, physics, medical engineering, computer technology and other fields.

Dimitris Chorafas
Dimitris N. Chorafas

The awards are named for Dr. Chorafas, who received his electrical and mechanical engineering degree at Technical University of Athens (1953), his master’s degree in engineering from UCLA (1954) and his doctorate at the University of Paris-Sorbonne (1956) before going on to a career in computer systems, financial engineering and risk management. The Dimitris N. Chorafas Foundation is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1992.

The recipients are Ph.D. students who are graduating the year the prize is awarded from one of the Chorafas Foundation’s 20 partner universities. Among the partner universities are top schools in the United States, Switzerland, Israel, Germany, Japan and other countries.

The UCLA awardees include Electrical Engineering researchers Chieh Chien, Vaibhav Karkare and Yu Zhang.

Karkare won a $5,000 prize, while Chien and Zhang share a $5,000 prize.

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Vaibhav Karkare

Karkare works to develop a unified sensor interface to reliably provide continuous-time recording, processing and wireless transmission for various biosignals. He also has designed energy-efficient processing chips that support wireless transmission of biosignals. His research team's recording mote, about the size of a quarter, is being used by the UCLA Neurology Department for wireless neural recording. Karkare works under the supervision of Electrical Engineering Professor Dejan Markovic.

“Receiving this award motivates me to work harder and contribute better to my field of work,” Karkare said. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank our excellent faculty at the Electrical Engineering Department. They have made our department one of the best in the world and I feel lucky to have learned from them over the last six years.” 

Chieh Chien also works in the field of remote sensing, developing sophisticated motion sensors to accurately track the mobility of people recovering from stroke and other disorders as they seek to rehabilitate.

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Chieh Chien

“For healthy people, we monitor activity and gather statistics every day so people can live healthier lives,” Chien said. “With disabled people, we can monitor their rehabilitation progress remotely to save medical resources and costs.”

Chien said the focus of his work is both improving the functionality of the monitors and making sure the data they track is accurate and of beneficial use. Chien, who has worked under the supervision of Electrical Engineering professors Greg Pottie and William Kaiser, will be joining Intel Corp. in the fall. He thanked the Chorafas Foundation and his professors for supporting his work.

Zhang researches technology-oriented social networks such as peer-to-peer file sharing source BitTorrrent and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, an online marketplace for computer work. Zhang’s Ph.D. research focused on eliminating free-riding and selfish behaviors on these networks. He proposed guidelines to encourage more active and beneficial cooperation between a social network’s users.

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Yu Zhang

“Basically, I want to incentivize everyone to share as much as possible,” he said. These guidelines could also influence other areas including cloud computing, Internet domain security and user-interface design. Zhang’s advisor was Chancellor’s Professor of Electrical Engineering Mihaela van der Schaar. 

“I feel quite excited and I feel quite honored to receive this award, and I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mr. Chorafas for his support of my research,” said Zhang, who will join Microsoft this summer. “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my Ph.D. advisor and my colleagues for their support.”