CI Days 2018 Speaker Bio’s

Yaakov Varol headshot

Yaakov Varol, PhD, Professor, Computer Science and Engineering

University of Nevada, Reno

Dr. Varol is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. His research interests are parallel computing, algorithm design and analysis, data fusion, discrete simulation and modeling and programming and problem solving.
Sergiu Dascalu, Computer Science and Engineer Faculty 2014

Sergiu Dascalu, PhD, Professor, Computer Science and Engineering

University of Nevada, Reno

As the cyberinfrastructure (CI) lead, Dr. Sergiu Dascalu heads the CI team’s work on enhancing Nevada’s CI capabilities for data communication, processing and management while establishing a new archetype for CI research and development.

Dascalu is a Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Nevada, Reno. He received a Master’s degree in Automated Control and Computers from the Polytechnic of Bucharest, Romania and his PhD in Computer Science from Dalhousie University, Canada. Dascalu’s main research interests are in software engineering and human-computer interaction, particularly in software design, software tools for scientific research, simulation environments, and highly interactive systems. Dascalu is the Director of the Software Engineering Laboratory (SOELA) at UNR and has served as PI or co-PI on various projects funded by federal agencies such as NSF, NASA, and ONR, as well as by industry organizations.

Dascalu has more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and has been involved in the organization of many international conferences and workshops. At UNR, he has advised over 50 graduate students and is the recipient of several teaching and mentorship awards, including the Nevada Center for Technology and Entrepreneurship Faculty Advisor Award 2009, the UNR Outstanding Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor Award 2011, the UNR Donald Tibbitts Distinguished Teacher Award 2011, and the UNR College of Engineering Faculty Excellence Award 2014.

Fred Harris headshot

Frederick C. Harris, Jr., PhD, Professor, Computer Science and Engineering

University of Nevada, Reno

Frederick C. Harris, Jr. received his BS and MS degrees in Mathematics and Educational Administration from Bob Jones University, Greenville, SC, USA in 1986 and 1988 respectively.  He then went on and received his MS and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA in 1991 and 1994 respectively.

He is currently a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Director of the High Performance Computation and Visualization Lab at the University of Nevada, Reno, USA where he is completing his 24th year. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers along with several book chapters with more than 300 co-authors.  Of special note is that 100 of these co-authors were undergraduate students at the time of their work.

His research interests are in parallel computation, computational neuroscience, computer graphics, and virtual reality.  He has had 11 PhD students and 70 MS thesis students complete their degrees under his supervision.

Over his time at UNR he has been part of more than $70 Million dollars in funding as PI, Co-PI, and Senior Personnel from the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, The Office of Naval Research, DoD, and DARPA

He is also a Senior Member of the ACM, and a Senior Member of the International Society for Computers and their Applications (ISCA).

Shahram Latifi headshot

Shahram Latifi, Professor, Electrical Engineering

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Shahram Latifi, an IEEE Fellow, received the Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Fanni, Tehran University, Iran in 1980. He received the Master of Science and the PhD degrees both in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, in 1986 and 1989, respectively. He is currently a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dr. Latifi is the director of the Center for Information and Communication Technology (CICT) at UNLV. He has designed and taught graduate courses on Bio-Surveillance, Image Processing, Computer Networks, Fault Tolerant Computing, and Data Compression in the past twenty years. He has given seminars on the aforementioned topics all over the world. He has authored over 200 technical articles in the areas of image processing, biosurveillance, biometrics, document analysis, computer networks, fault tolerant computing, parallel processing, and data compression. His research has been funded by NSF, NASA, DOE, Boeing, Lockheed and Cray Inc. Dr. Latifi was an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Computers (1999-2006) and Co-founder and General Chair of the IEEE Int’l Conf. on Information Technology. He is also a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Nevada.

Hung La, PhD, Director, Advanced Robotics and Automation Lab and Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering

University of Nevada, Reno

Dr. Hung La is the director of the Advanced Robotics and Automation Lab (, and an assistant professor of the Department of Computer Science and  Engineering, University of Nevada at Reno. He was a research faculty (2012-2014) with the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), Rutgers University where he started in September 2011 as a postdoctoral researcher. Dr. La received the doctoral degree in electrical and computer engineering from Oklahoma State University, USA in 2011. He was a key member of the CAIT team that developed the Robotics Assisted Bridge Inspection Tool[1,2] (RABIT) for the USA Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Dr. La currently manages several federal funded projects from NASA, NSF, and DOT with more than $2Million.

Dr. La is the author of more than 70 papers in major journals, book chapters and international conferences. Dr. La and his team received the 2014 prestigious ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) Charles Pankow Award for Innovation for the RABIT. Dr. La received the best paper finalist at IEEE-ICRA 2017, and three best paper awards in the 2015 ISSAT International Conference on Modeling of Complex Systems and Environments; and the 2009 and 2010 Conferences on Theoretical and Applied Computer Science, and one best paper presentation of the network control session in the 2009 American Control Conference. Dr. La is IEEE Senior Member, and Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, and Guest Editor of the International Journal of Robust and Nonlinear Control.

Richard Kelley headshot

Richard Kelley, PhD, Senior Engineer, Nevada Center for Applied Research

University of Nevada, Reno

Richard Kelley is a senior engineer in the Nevada Center for Applied Research, where he designs, builds, and studies autonomous systems. He studied mathematics at the University of Washington in Seattle, and received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2013. He has worked on autonomous air traffic control systems with the NASA Ames Research Center, and is currently designing algorithms for self-driving cars as a part of UNR’s Intelligent Mobility Initiative, which is sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Kostas Alexis, PhD, Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering

University of Nevada, Reno

Dr. Kostas Alexis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science \& Engineering at University of Nevada, Reno. He obtained his Ph.D. in the field of aerial robotics control and collaboration from the University of Patras, Greece in 2011 and further conducted 4-years of research as a Senior Researcher at the Autonomous Systems Lab of ETH Zurich. His research includes the fields of planning, perception and control for autonomous systems. Dr. Alexis is the head of the Autonomous Robots Lab hosting 10 postdoctoral and doctoral researchers. He has organized and supervised major research projects both in Europe and in the US. Together with the fixed-wing team of the Autonomous Systems Lab, he holds the world record on small UAV endurance demonstrating continuous flight for 81.5h using the AtlantikSolar solar-powered UAV.

Sherif Elfass, PhD, Associate Professor, Civil Engineering

University of Nevada, Reno

Dr. Elfass is a Research Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR).  He is also the manager of the Industry Support Group, leading the effort of assisting companies  with developing products, improving competitiveness, and performing product qualification.

Dr. Elfass served as an investigator on projects funded by National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and Federal Highway Administration as well as Departments of Transportation.  Dr. Elfass’ research interests include experimental and analytical studies of seismic performance of bridge foundations, soil-structure-interaction, behavior of shallow foundations, performance of geosynthetics in geotechnical applications, and pile and pile group response under axial and lateral loading.  He conducted large scale laboratory experiments as well as full scale field experiments to assess the response of different structural elements embedded in soil.  Dr. Elfass holds two patents to improve the axial capacity of drilled shaft and improve their performance during earthquakes.  . Dr. Elfass has authored and co-authored several technical publications and served on technical committees. He is the recipient of the 2016 “Teacher of The Year,”  “NEES Outstanding Service to Researchers” award in 2009 and 2014.  Dr. Elfass is a registered Professional Engineer (PE) and Project Management Professional (PMP).

Le Vinh headshot

Vinh Le

University of Nevada, Reno

Vinh graduated in 2015 with a Bachelors of Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). Having been part of the Track 1 Nexus Project since 2014, Vinh continued this work after he was accepted into the Master’s Program at UNR for Computer Science and Engineering. The main fields of research that interest Vinh include Software Engineering, Full-Stack Development, and Human-Computer Interaction.

Connor Scully-Allison

University of Nevada, Reno

Connor Scully-Allison received his Bachelors of Philosophy in 2012 from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). Accepted into the master’s program at UNR for Computer Science and Engineering in 2015, he is currently working as a research assistant on the Track 1 Nexus Project for the Cyber-Infrastructure lab located in the College of Engineering. His research interests include Human Computer Interaction, Data Visualization, and Software Engineering.

Hannah Muñoz

University of Nevada, Reno

Hannah Muñoz graduated in 2016 with a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Nevada, Reno. She started on her journey to her M.S in Computer Science with her advisers Dr. Sergiu Dascalu and Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr. in 2017. She hopes to finish her degree in 2018. Currently, Hannah works in the Cyberinfrastrusture Lab where she helps develop applications that enable environmental scientists to further their research.

Hannah has written and published two conference papers during her time as a Master’s student. Her interest lie in mobile development and developing software to help in scientific analyses.