Grad Howler

Are you (or do you know of) a University of Nevada, Reno graduate student that has recently won an award or honor? Published a major paper? Given a presentation at a conference? We would love to share these exciting accomplishments on our Grad Howler page for Graduate Student recognition. Submit your information,  and we will add it to our page!

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July featured student: Francesco Zuniga

Headshot of Francesco ZunigaFrancesco is a Ph.D. student in the Statistics and Data Science program here at the University of Nevada, Reno. Prior to enrolling in his Ph.D. program, he studied Civil Engineering at the University of Tor Vergata in Rome Italy where he received his Bachelors. Francesco also holds a M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno. What drew Francesco to the University was being able to work two summers in the UNR Earthquake Lab. Currently, he is working with his advisor Prof. Anna Panorska in the area of extreme value theory, specifically peaks over threshold.
 Francesco states, “The innovative models they developed was at first applied to Engineering problems related to energy peaks, direct impact on the state and national estimates of energy reserves and for financial applications, modeling the financial markets’ volatility. Later on, there was the chance to work on Big Data related to the field of climatic and atmospheric science. The process of fitting their model to the new dataset was an interesting challenge, the goal was to better understand and to give a scientific interpretation to these important climate changes: like heat waves, droughts and many more.”

Francesco has been the recipient of many awards and honors during his career at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2017, he won the Graduate Deans Merit Scholarship -- a highly coveted honor. In addition, in 2018 he was selected for the GSA Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, and in 2020 he received the GSA Outstanding International Graduate Student Award. In his department, he won the Ben & Beatrice Edwards Math Scholarship as well as outstanding teaching assistant for the Mathematics and Statistics Department. Furthermore, he won a very competitive scholarship from Reading University in London, UK for a summer research program in mathematics and statistics applied to climate change.  He truly believes his research on Statistics of Climate Change will have a strong impact not only in his field. Using the scientific methods they are developing new models to observe and forecast these Climate Changes phenomena. Francesco explains, “Because the danger to irreparably ruin the ecosystem is real, and it is our duty to preserve and defend this amazing planet.” Francesco emphasizes that the key to building a better society is through research. 

Besides receiving many awards and honors, Francesco also cofounded the student chapter of SIAM at the University of Nevada, Reno. Francesco explains, “SIAM, stands for Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. It is an organization that has chapters all over the world. The goal is to promote research that will lead to effective new mathematical and computational methods and techniques for science, engineering, industry, and society.” After he completes his Ph.D. program, he hopes to work in industry while still pursuing on research. Francesco’s advice to other students: If you are consistent and willing to work hard with perseverance, you can achieve anything you want.”

June featured student: Rushikesh Battulwar

Headshot of June featured student: Rushikesh BattulwarRushikesh Battulwar began his career at the University of Nevada Reno in 2017 working on his Master of Science in Mining Engineering. After completing his masters in 2018 Rushikesh enrolled in the Ph.D. in Mineral Resource Engineering Program in January 2019. He attributes his interest in the Engineering Field to watching the Discovery Channel as a child and being mesmerized by skyscrapers and their structural design concepts. After high school Rushikesh, studied Mining Engineering at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology -Indian School of Mines (IIT-ISM) in Dhanbad, India. He learned about the University of Nevada, Reno from Dr. Sattarvand and initially became interested in Autonomous Loading and Collision Avoidance using smartphones in open pit mines. Rushikesh is currently working on Application of deep learning for automated rock mass discontinuity characterization from 3D point clouds. This research will benefit open pit mines to monitor highwalls safely and efficiently.

In addition to great strides in the field of research, Rushikesh has been the recipient of several awards and honors during his time at the University. Upon completion of his M.S. Degree, he was the recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Student Award in the Mackay School of Earth Science and Engineering. Most recently, he was the recipient of a 2020 Spring Award as well as the 2020 Syd S. and Felicia F. Peng Ground Control in Mining Scholarship. Rushikesh was also awarded first prize in the 2019 AEMA Poster Competition held in Reno, Nevada.

According to Rushikesh, the University of Nevada, Reno is a great school for pursuing graduate education in the mining discipline. There are numerous scholarships available for students. Furthermore, the Nevada Gold Mines are nearby which help students in conducting applied research.

Rushikesh currently works in Javad Sattarvand Ph.D.'s lab, a lab he has been in since 2017.

Recent publications

  • Battulwar, J. Valencia, G. Winkelmaier, B. Parvin & J. Sattarvand, “Application of UAV Imaging and Photogrammetry for High-Resolution Modeling of Open Pit Geometry and Slope Stability Monitoring”, Proc. of the 39th International Symposium on the Application of Computers and Operations Research in Mineral Industry, Wroclaw, June 2019.

May featured student: Sima Aznavi

Headshot of Sima AznaviCongratulations to Sima Aznavi, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering who has received a 2020 Outstanding Graduating Graduate Award and a Graduate Dean’s Merit Scholarship.

Her research focuses on renewable energy integration into electric power networks. She is trying to improve the utilization of solar energy at homes. She has worked as Renewable Energy intern in at ICF consulting group since May 2019. At our University, Sima has served as a graduate officer for the Society of Women Engineers, attended the Women in Engineering Conference, and served as interim chair of the IEEE Industry Applications Society student chapter. Sima says, “It is a great opportunity to represent women in the Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering Department where most of the students and faculty are men.” 

Sima Aznavi's Google Scholar profile

April featured student: Sarah Moody

Headshot of Sarah MoodyCongratulations to Sarah Moody, a Ph.D. student in Interdisciplinary Social Psychology working in the Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies! Since coming to UNR, she has received a Graduate Dean’s Fellowship, a poster award from the American Psychology-Law Society, and a graduate research grant and two conference travel awards from Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.

Sarah researches how to improve eyewitness identification procedures and prevent false confessions during police interrogations. She is also interested in the psychology of plea bargaining and jury decisions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and Spanish from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln and volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Recent publications

February featured student: Deep Sengupta

Headshot of Deep SenguptaCongratulations to Deep Sengupta who has accepted a postdoctoral position working with Dr. Allen Goldstein in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkley! After completing his Ph.D. in atmospheric science, Deep will contribute to a project titled “Understanding risk and mitigation strategies of wildfires in California.”

Deep holds a BS in chemistry from Calcutta University and an MS in geochemistry from the Indian Institute of Science. He studies the health and climate impact of wildfire generated aerosols on the surrounding environment in the Sierra Nevada. He hopes to eventually become a professor.

Recent publications

  • Sengupta, D., Samburova, V., Bhattarai, C., Kirillova, E., Mazzoleni, L., Iaukea-Lum, M., Watts, A. C., Moosmüller, H., and Khlystov, A. Y. “Light Absorption by Polar and Non-polar Aerosol Compounds from Laboratory Biomass Combustion, Atmos. Chem. Phys. 9.18 (2018) 10849-10867. doi: 10.5194/acp-2018-161.