Rashmeet Kaur Nayyar, a computer science doctoral student in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, is one of three ASU graduate students to have been awarded prestigious 2020 Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards by the American Astronomical Society. Santosh Harish, and Mansi Padave from ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration are the other two.
Chambliss medals recognize exemplary research by students who present at one of the poster sessions at the meetings of the AAS. Only six awards were granted nationwide to graduate students. The award is named after Carlson R. Chambliss of Kutztown University, who donated the funds to support the prize.
Nayyar is a member of the Autonomous Agents and Intelligent Robots research group. Her research focuses on key artificial intelligence principles to help build efficient systems that can reason, plan and act under uncertainty. In collaboration with co-adviser professors Sanchayeeta Borthakur and Siddharth Srivastava, she studies probabilistic approaches to automate physics-based detection and identification of intergalactic clouds.
“My experience at the American Astronomical Society meeting has opened my eyes to the immense potential of interdisciplinary collaborative research,” said Nayyar. “I believe in, and remind myself every day, that satisfaction in research comes with a struggle for discovery. I hope my work now, and in the near future, will help in advancing our understanding of the universe and its evolution.”
Nayyar’s achievement is particularly exciting because she won this award as a computer science student and presented her AI research on using first-order probabilistic logic for reliably inferring properties of intergalactic space far beyond our own galaxy.
“Not only did she succeed in explaining her work to an entirely different academic community, but she did it so well that she won an award for it! She’s helping build bridges across research communities in true ASU style,” said Srivastava.
“I joined ASU as a master’s student and got so fascinated by the study of artificial intelligence that I decided to pursue doctoral studies instead,” says Nayyar. “I hope that my work would someday motivate others enough to help them bring out the researchers within themselves.”