In this edition, COSMOS highlights the Spring 2024 end-of-year awards for our Cosmographers. Several Cosmographers received accolades and awards at the DCSTEM College Spring award ceremony held on Friday, May 3rd. Among the award winners were:

  • Chinni Krishna Kongala, with the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award
  • Mainuddin Shaik, with the COSMOS Outstanding Research Award
  • Niloofar Yousefi, with the COSMOS Outstanding Research Award
  • Mert Can Çakmak, with the COSMOS Outstanding Research Award
  • Manohar Koya, with the COSMOS Outstanding Project Award
  • Mayor Inna Gurung, with the 2nd place award for the DCSTEM Graduate Award

We asked them what these awards meant to them and what work went into these achievements.

Chinni said, “I am honored to have received the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award. I want to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude for all the support and guidance Dr. Agarwal has provided me throughout my journey. First and foremost, I thank him for believing in me. His confidence in my abilities has been a tremendous source of motivation and inspiration. I am especially grateful for his generous funding of my master’s program. Without the support, achieving this milestone would not have been possible. I also want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Dr. Agarwal for assigning me to real-world, high-end projects. Working on such projects has not only enhanced my skills but also provided me with invaluable experience that I will carry forward in my career. As compared to my master’s program, I learned more from the COSMOS research lab as a graduate research assistant. Being a part of the prestigious COSMOS research lab has been an honor. One memorable moment that highlights the lab’s reputation occurred when I met someone from UAMS. When I mentioned that I was a graduate research assistant at COSMOS, I immediately received a look of admiration, underscoring the esteemed status of our research lab in the community.”

Chinni continued, saying, “I am very grateful for the opportunities and experiences Dr. Agarwal provided. His mentorship has been a cornerstone of my academic and professional development. This recognition serves as a testament to the dedication and hard work I have put into my studies and research. Balancing my coursework in the Master’s in Information Quality program while contributing to COSMOS as a graduate research assistant has been challenging, yet incredibly rewarding. My research on social media trends and online behavior has allowed me to explore the dynamic nature of information science and its impact on society. This award not only acknowledges my efforts but also inspires me to continue striving for excellence in my academic and research pursuits.”

Shaik said, “As a doctoral student receiving an Outstanding Research Award, I feel deeply honored and motivated to continue pursuing innovative solutions that can significantly impact our field of work. My work that led to this award involved extensive collaborative research focusing on the role of multimedia in social media influence operations. This included developing models that can characterize, predict, and mitigate the various effects and roles of multimedia in the social media environment during social movements. This continuous work has spanned years of hard work with valuable guidance from my advisor, Dr. Agarwal, and included partnerships with talented colleagues such as Niloofar and Mert, culminating in many peer-reviewed publications and presentations at prestigious conferences. The innovative models and real-world applicability of our findings were key factors in receiving this award.”

Mert said, “The award ceremony was thrilling, and it reinforced the societal impact of my research. This recognition motivates me to continue my work, publish more articles, and make further contributions to my field.”

Manohar said, “I have worked on and led my team in the Data-object project, which centralizes social media data and makes it easily accessible to cosmographers. This project involved collecting social media data from a wide range of sources, transforming it into a consistent format, and building application programming interfaces for accessibility. I have worked diligently and creatively, not just meeting task requirements but also devising innovative solutions for any problems that arose. Additionally, I collaborated closely with my team, continuously monitoring progress and addressing blockers rather than merely assigning tasks. These combined efforts helped me achieve the COSMOS Outstanding Project Award.”

Mayor Inna said, “It was an honor to receive this award. Winning this award not only recognizes my hard work and dedication but also motivates me to further enhance my skills.”

Niloofar said, “I’m deeply honored to receive the Outstanding Research award. This is a demonstration of the dedication and passion that I pour into my work every day with the guidance of my advisor, Dr. Agarwal. This award reflects the hours of hard work, teamwork, and research. I’m grateful for the opportunity to make a meaningful impact, and it motivates us to keep pushing boundaries and aiming for greatness.”

Dr. Agarwal said “I am extremely proud of our students for winning several awards at the 2024 DCSTEM College awards ceremony! The recognitions are testament to the incredible hard work and diligence demonstrated by each and every cosmographer.”