AlumniMeet our Alumni

  • Furman University
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Visitors
  • University of Cambridge

Sara Vanovac

Undergraduate research assistant

Sara started doing big data research in Fall 2018, on a collaboration with Dr Arlinghaus from Germany. She has developed scripts to analyze terabytes of data, and was selected for an oral presentation at NetSci'19, the annual flagship conference on complex networks. She obtained her B.S. in physics, computer science, and applied mathematics in Spring 2019. After her graduation, she worked for Furman University to analyze institutional data.

Zachariah Dick

Student Intern

Zach is currently an undergraduate at Northern Illinois University, pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science and Mathematics. He joined the lab in the Spring semester of 2018 through an independent study. His goals through this independent study are to learn research techniques, gain research experience, and identify his own research interests.

Michele Fattoruso

Graduate Research Assistant

Michele Fattoruso received his Bachelor of science in computer science in 2015 with a research thesis on cloud computing from the University of Napoli Federico II, Italy. He then joined Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, IL, where he worked for two years in the Scientific Computing Division. He is Currently studying for his Master Degree in Computer Science, where he joined Dr. Giabbanelli for a summer research position.

Cole Freeman

Graduate Research Assistant

Cole is a graduate student of Computer Science at Northern Illinois University. His background is in musical composition & historiography. His current research interests include mapping real-world systems in logical space, data visualization, and computational aesthetics. Cole joins DACHB lab for the Summer of 2018.

Eric Lavin

MS Spring 2018

Eric Lavin started as an undergraduate student at Northern Illinois University. He did his honors thesis with Dr Giabbanelli, and decided to keep working in the lab as a graduate student. His first publication was in the Winter Simulation conference, and his second publication in the Spring Simulation multi-conference. His SpringSim paper won the awards for best paper in the conference track, and for best paper overall. Eric is particularly experienced working in data science (including simulations and machine learning) using Python and statistics.

Masters Thesis: Assessing and supporting the use of fuzzy cognitive maps to simulate complex phenomena


Joshua DeVita

Undergraduate Research Assistant 2018

Joshua DeVita joined the lab as a senior undergraduate at Northern Illinois University, perusing his degree in Computer Science with an emphasis on computation. Experienced working with C/C++, Java, and Python, he programmed a simulation engine for HIV. His engine is able to handle several order of magnitudes more cells than previous engines, which opens exciting avenues for simulations of the entire human body.

Vishrant Gupta

Graduate Research Assistant 2017-2018

Vishrant Gupta was a graduate research assistant. He started as volunteer in the DACHB lab in Summer 2017, and continued until the end of Spring 2018. His work combined client/server programming with databases (both SQL and NoSQL technologies such as Neo4J) and graph algorithms (particularly graph comparison). He was the lead programmer for ITACM v2 and v3. After his experience programming in the lab, he received an offer from the software industry in the greater Chicago area as developer.

Published work: An online environment to compare students' and expert solutions to ill-structured problems

Nick Rosso

Undergraduate Research Assistant 2017-2018

Nick Rosso joined the lab as a Junior undergraduate at Northern Illinois University working towards a B.S. in Computer Science and a Minor in Journalism. As an avid cyclist, data-fiend, and amateur photographer Nick is interested in computers and loves being able to connect his favorite past times to his interests. Nick was first supported in summer 2017 by the Summer Research Program (SROP), and then he stayed in the lab for two more semesters. Starting as a novice in the Data mining/Machine learning world, Nick significantly expanded his knowledge and his work on mining food data has appeared in the highly-selective JMIR journal series.

Published work: Applying data mining to the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey


Magda Baniukiewicz

MS Fall 2017

Magda Baniukiewicz joined the DACHB Lab in 2015, after completing her undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland. Her thesis combined simulations, visualizations, and network analysis. A prolific young researcher, by the time she graduated in 2017, she had published two articles, had two more under review, and received two awards. Her thesis was passed with no revision. Shortly after, she became a Junior Data Analyst at Qiagen Business Services in her home city, in Poland.

Masters Thesis: Analyzing, Simulating, and Visualizing Complex Social Systems


Venkata Sai Sriram Pillutla

MS Spring 2017

Venkata Sai Sriram Pillutla was a masters student and a research member of the DACHB lab in the department of Computer Science, at Northern Illinois University. His thesis, supervised by Dr. Giabbanelli, focused on text analytics, in combination with visualization and simulation techniques. Before joining Dr. Giabbanelli's lab, Sriram graduated from Acharya Nagarjuna University in India, and worked as software engineer. After his thesis was passed with no revisions, Sriram joined Argonne National Laboratory as research intern. He remains keenly interested in Big Data and text analytics.

Masters Thesis: Helping users learn about social processes while learning from users: developing a positive feedback in social computing.


Jacqueline Salim

Research Rookie 2016-2017

Jacqueline was funded by the Research Rookies program at Northern Illinois University to get a research experience, and she chose to join the DACHB lab. She discovered research by helping others on multiple projects. With Magda Baniukiewicz, she ran a study on novel visualizations to make sense of large simulation datasets. She also worked with Eric Lavin to analyze the literature on computational models for obesity. Jacqueline was 'the voice' of the lab by producing some of the videos explaining our work. While in the lab, she was also in the Honors Program, and a Presidential Scholar.

Hendra Sandhi Firmansyah

PhD Student

Hendra visited Dr Giabbanelli to perform his doctoral research, thanks to support from the republic of Indonesia (PKPI programme). The focus of his doctoral thesis is on smart cities. He learned the use of conceptual modeling and Fuzzy Cognitive Maps (FCMs) with Dr Giabbanelli, resulting in a 2019 article in IEEE Access.

Read Hendra's research in IEEE Access

Thrishma Reddy

MITACS Graduate Student

Thrishma was supported by MITACS Canada for a collaboration between her host supervisor (Dr Vijay Mago at Lakehead University) and Dr Giabbanelli. She came to the lab in Fall 2018. Her experience resulted in a paper at the 2019 HCI conference, on the use of voice assistant (Amazon Alexa) to guide participants in creating causal maps. She successfully defended her masters thesis in Spring 2019.

Mannila Sandhu

MITACS Graduate Student

Mannila was supported by MITACS Canada to visit the lab in Fall 2018, in the context of a collaboration between Drs Vijay Mago (Lakehead University) and Giabbanelli. Her stay was very productive, as she authored two articles. One was published in the 2019 HCI conference, showing how to validate conceptual models by mining large volumes of Twitter data, and the other was submitted to a journal, with a focus on Twitter for politics (in collaboration with Dr Danielle Vinson). Mannila successfully defended her thesis in Spring 2018, and was co-advised by Drs Mago and Giabbanelli.

Tanner Verigin

MS Summer 2015

Tanner Verigin graduated in 2015, with both a Master in System Dynamics and a Master in Business Administration. He was co-supervised by Dr Philippe J. Giabbanelli (right; then at the University of Cambridge) and Dr Pal I. Davidsen (at the University of Bergen, Norway). Tanner's thesis, consisted of developing a new system dynamics model for the population of British Columbia (Canada). His thesis looked beyond generally accepted drivers of weight such as diet and exercise. It provided a comprehensive simulation model, showing how feedbacks between individual and environmental factor can impede one's ability to maintain a healthy weight. Results from his thesis were published as Supporting a systems approach to healthy weight interventions in British Columbia by modeling weight and well-being, at the 49th Annual Simulation Symposium in 2016. Following his degree, Tanner became team lead at Danske Bank, the largest bank in Denmark and a Fortune Global 500 company.

Masters Thesis: Beyond diet and exercise: A system dynamics approach to understanding the relationships between weight and well-being.