MCS Alums Receive First Decade Award

Posted on October 13th, 2006 by

Milo Martin and Rebecca Konrad with Barbara Kaiser, Max Hailperin, and Karl Knight

Computer Science major Milo Martin (center) and Math major Rebecca Konrad (second from right), both from the class of 1996, are congratulated by MCS professors Barbara Kaiser (left), Max Hailperin (second from left) and Karl Knight (right) on winning the Alumni Association’s award for outstanding achievements in their first decade since graduation. The awards were presented at the homecoming banquet on October 7th. What follows are the introductions that Hailperin and Knight provided for the two award recipients.

Rebecca Konrad (as introduced by Karl Knight)

It is a great honor and privilege to introduce Rebecca Konrad, one of the two recipients of the First Decade award, both of whom were majors in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Gustavus.

One of my great pleasures as a teacher is watching students go on to fulfill their promise in ways I don’t think that even they envisioned while at Gustavus. Rebecca told me that when she first came to Gustavus, she was unsure what she wanted to pursue. However, after taking an Honor Calculus course from my colleague Jeff Rosoff, she decided that she wanted to major in mathematics, and in particular, secondary mathematics education. Rebecca was of course an excellent student. She was also involved in many other things at Gustavus, such as being the principal flutist in the Wind Orchestra and the Gustavus Orchestra, as well as being the president of the Math and Computer Science Club. In fact, she and Milo were both in a group of Math/CS students that we still remember fondly as a department.

After graduation from Gustavus, Rebecca volunteered for two years with the Peace Corps in the Republic of Guinea in West Africa. She developed and presented mathematics lessons in French for 100 senior high school students on a wide range of mathematical topics. She also implemented an extensive tutoring program to prepare students for the national exams and for university entrance exams, an effort that resulted in a record high pass rate for high school seniors in her community. She put a special emphasis on girls’ education, and she also established and coached the first-ever girls’ soccer program in Tougue, Guinea, writing a successful grant proposal to support their traveling matches. She had many other accomplishments during those two years, some of which she described for us in a wonderful seminar she presented to our department when she returned to Minnesota.

At the time of that seminar, Rebecca was working as an actuarial analyst for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota. I was amused to hear her say, in a profile of her in the newsletter of the Carlson School of Management, that “before serving in the Peace Corps, I would never have worked in an office environment. I was too granola.” Perhaps she was granola, but I always sensed that she had a strong will and a desire to help others in the best way that she could.

In 2001, Rebecca began her MBA studies at the Carlson School of Management. She was extremely successful there, being unanimously selected by the faculty as the Outstanding Finance Student of 2003 for her exceptional academic and professional achievements in the field of finance. Early on at Carlson, she developed a strong interest in fixed income funds, doing internships with RBC Dain Rauscher and Galliard Capital Management where she honed her skills at portfolio management. She also established and was a managing director of the Carlson School Fixed Income Fund, the largest such student-run fund in the nation and the first-ever at the University of Minnesota.

Following graduate school, Rebecca spent one year at ING Investment Management in Minneapolis. While there, she was involved in the underwriting of $440 million of corporate bond investments for public and private companies operating in 140 countries worldwide. She managed a $400 million portfolio of private bonds, and generated $30 million in new business by leveraging existing client relationships.

In August of 2004, Rebecca had the opportunity to use her investment management skills in the service of her passion for international development. She was one of only 15 MBAs from over 10,000 applicants worldwide to join the premier recruiting program for the International Finance Corporation, which is the private sector funding arm of the World Bank. There she advises on the structuring, pricing, and implementation of a $1 billion securitization program which is aimed at the development of the private sector in developing and emerging market countries, more recently with an emphasis on energy companies in those markets. Rebecca told me that the three things she likes most about her current position is working on development that can be helpful on a world scale, working in an international environment with colleagues from around the world, and simply working in the field of finance.

This past week I met with a high school student who is considering enrolling at Gustavus. She shows great promise for and interest in mathematics, and has been strongly encouraged by her parents to pursue her interests in mathematics and science. When either she or her mother asked what possibilities are open for mathematics major after graduation, it was great to be able to cite the amazing things that Rebecca has done in these 10 short years, and to say that sky is indeed the limit when you pursue your dreams.

Milo Martin (as introduced by Max Hailperin)

It is not only an honor, but a profound personal pleasure for me to introduce Milo Martin. I always am pleased when one of my former students comes back to visit, and I always am pleased when an accomplished researcher visits, bringing news of the wider world to our little community on the hill. So you can imagine the joy of having both in one person–a path-breaking researcher who I remember fondly from his undergraduate days. You might think that this is a matter of pride in seeing all of what I taught him pay off. But truth be told, what I remember of Milo is that he was a consumate self-teacher–all I could do was provide a little encouragement as he far outstripped what we were doing in class.

My favorite memory of Milo is from after he graduated. Back here at Gustavus, a couple sharp students had noticed some strange results in a lab experiment–results that they couldn’t explain in terms of the principles they were studying. Being good students, they didn’t just write it off as some strange experimental anomaly; they thought hard about it, and finding no explanation, they asked their instructor, David Wolfe. He thought hard about it also, and he too found no explanation. So he came to me–the closest the college had to an expert on computer architecture, and in any case the orginal designer of the lab experiment in question. I took my turn thinking hard, and my turn being equally baffled. But I knew who we could turn to–so we sent an email to Milo. He too gave the matter some thought, even did some experimentation of his own–but there the similarity with our fumbling ended. He sent us a very nice email, explaining what was going on so lucidly that our bafflement turned into clarity as though a light bulb had been switched on. That moment of being enlightened by a former student is one of the most uplifting moments of my teaching career.

Fast forward to the present. Dr. Martin is Assistant Professor of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been on the faculty since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 2003. Already Dr. Martin’s work has had a significant impact on academic and industrial research into designs for shared-memory multiprocessor systems. From his substantial publication record, I will highlight two papers in particular.

His 2003 conference paper on token coherence protocols is widely regarded as having opened up an important new area of design possibilities; at a number of top universities, this paper is now one of the readings in the graduate seminar on computer architecture, standing alongside the classics of the field. That same paper also received recognition as one of the top computer architecture papers of the year and as such was published in revised form in the journal IEEE Micro.

More recently, the organizers of the 2005 International Conference on Computer Design–the premier conference in the field–showed their respect for Dr. Martin’s intellectual leadership by soliciting an “invited paper” from him, that is, one of the small number of papers specifically solicited to serve as highlights of the technical program. His paper provided a broader perspective on the design of shared-memory systems, informed by his work on token coherence and other approaches. In particular, he went a considerable way toward resolving a long-standing debate over the merits of competing design approaches, each of which are embodied in commercially manufactured computer systems.

It is hard to imagine a more commercially important area of computer architecture research today than the question of how multiple processors can communicate and coordinate their activities through a shared memory system. The makers of microprocessors are finding it increasingly difficult to increase the speed of each individual processor, while at the same time they are gaining the ability to fit more processors on each chip. The result is that all major performance gains today, whether in small single-chip personal computers or large supercomputers, are coming from the harnessing together of multiple processors. Given the current trend toward multiple processor cores per chip, there is reason to expect that single-processor systems will soon be obsolete. At that point, Dr. Martin’s work will be relevant to the design of every class of computer system, and will help the architects of those systems confront one of the most difficult design problems they face.

Milo, it is thrilling to see what you’ve done since leaving this campus ten years ago, and equally exciting to welcome you back. Thank you for serving as such a great example for our students, congratulations on the recongition you are receiving, and best wishes for all that you and Denise have ahead.


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