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SoIC students who received 2022 IUPUI Elite 50 recognition: Sarah Nikkhah (recipient of the 2022 Charles R. Bantz Award for Excellence) and Swapna Vidhur Daulatabad

Two SoIC graduate students part of 2022 IUPUI Elite 50

June 9, 2022

The School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC) is proud to announce that two of our students have been selected as members of the 2022 IUPUI Elite 50:

  • Sarah Nikkhah (above left; recipient of the 2022 Charles R. Bantz Award for Excellence)
  • Swapna Vidhur Daulatabad

These graduate and professional students demonstrate excellence beyond the classroom, in areas such as campus leadership, scholarly work, and community engagement. The 2022 award winners, honored by the Division of Student Affairs, the IUPUI Graduate Office, and Graduate and Professional Student Government, represent the best of the best, exemplifying what makes the campus exceptional.

Sarah Nikkhah

In addition to being selected for the Elite 50, Nikkhah also received one of IUPUI’s top honors: the 2022 Charles R. Bantz Award for Excellence.

The award, presented by Graduate and Professional Student Government, goes to IUPUI’s top graduate or professional student as judged by a panel of faculty and staff

A fifth-year Ph.D. candidate, Nikkhah is studying human-computer interaction (HCI), a specialization she discovered as an undergrad in computer engineering. “I took a course called User Interface Design and that made me interested in design,” she says.

“I looked up majors related to design, which led me to HCI, and found that SoIC has a strong HCI program.”

After beginning her master’s degree in HCI, “Collaborating with my current advisor, Dr. Andrew D. Miller, and many other faculty at our school helped me realize that our school has many faculty that are very skilled at what they do, with a wide range of research interests.” Nikkhah says. “So I applied for the Ph.D. program right away.”

She’s been active in campus life, as a graduate ambassador at SoIC and an IUPUI student volunteer. Nikkhah also was a winner in the AT&T Sports hackathon, FirstNet hackathon, and Indy Civic hackathon. She’s been involved in National Science Foundation-funded studies as a research assistant, and has been a student volunteer and reviewed work at CSCW and ACM CHI, prestigious conferences in HCI.

Following her UX research internship with Eli Lilly this summer, she plans to graduate in 2023.

“I would like to specifically appreciate the support from my advisor Dr. Miller for his constant support, guidance, and encouragement,” she says.

“I would also like to thank Professor Lou Lenzi for his training and feedback, and Dr. Davide Bolchini for his guidance on research work and advice on professional growth.

“To me, this is a shared accomplishment.” Nikkhah says.  “I would like to thank my colleagues and the SoIC faculty and staff. I believe working with strong faculty and students at SoIC provided me with strong skills, supportive friends, and many resources to be able to give back to our school, campus, and community. I appreciate this collaborative and supportive culture at our school.”

Swapna Vidhur Daulatabad

Daulatabad is a final year Ph.D. candidate in BioHealth Informatics at the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI.

He works with SoIC’s Janga Lab, and has had the opportunity to publish his work in reputed journals and present his work at several international conferences. In 2019, his work on resolving RNA secondary structure using single-molecule approach was highlighted at Rustbelt RNA meeting at Columbus, Ohio, where he was invited for an oral presentation.

“My efforts as a Ph.D. scholar with the Janga Lab have earned our group 10 research articles published in established journals in our field,” he says.

Informatics has been key to his educational path.

“Early in my career I was introduced to informatics and how it can help us explore and understand our genome better,” Daulatabad says. “Ever since, informatics and its application in understanding the nature of human genetics has been fascinating to me.

“Faculty and research scholars here at SoIC not only have the opportunity to generate next-generation sequencing data, but also provide a great platform for collaborations with the medical school and biomedical researchers.”

At IUPUI, Daulatabad has been involved in intramural soccer, and as treasurer for the Jaguars Cricket club.

He co-founded DesiJags Indian Student Association, along with friends, to assist and welcome international students. “My team and I have organized some of the biggest cultural events of IUPUI, like Holi and Diwali,” he says, “engaging around 450 students for some of the events.”

In the future, Daulatabad says, “I am looking forward to working in the biomedical and genomics industry, applying my skills to improve our understanding of human disease and phenotype.”

“I would like to thank my advisor Dr. Sarath Janga for his guidance and encouragement,” he says, “and also take this opportunity to appreciate all the support from the DesiJags team.”

Media Contact

Joanne Lovrinic