Current officers

John Harwell, President

5th Year PhD working in artificial intelligence and robotics.



My name is John Harwell (though I usually go by John The Conquerer, Destroyer of Realms, Slayer of Beasts, Proponent of Finger Painting), and I'm one of the candidates for president. I'm 5 years young into my PhD program working in Artificial Intelligence and robotics. When I am taking a break from PhD purgatory, I enjoy the following (in no particular order): Singing sea shanties with my fellow salty seadogs, purveying the latest in viking beard fashion, brewing and fermenting of all things alcoholic in search of the fabled ULTIMATE BREW, blacksmithing my own iron-age eating utensils and battle axes, playing my guitars, watching bugs getting zapped on a buglight on warm summer evenings, training to SLAY the three-headed IRON HYDRA of swimming, cycling and running, luxuriating while being barefoot on warm (not hot!) coals, honing the razor's edge of my meme and gif game, organizing my clothes in a FIFO queue. If thou has questions for me about the BAND of BROTHERS and SISTERS which I wish to form to dance and revel upon the platform held built atop our collective FEARS and DOUBTS while we slowly crush and erase them from our lives, please message me.

Risako Owan, Treasurer

2nd-year PhD student working in NLP and Affective Computing.



Hi, my name is Risako and I’m a 2nd-year PhD student working in NLP and affective computing. I enjoy going to the gym, self-learning on YouTube, and reading (mostly Japanese fiction and English nonfiction). Due to the pandemic, I’ve also started growing some plants; I have a pet lemon tree that has only given me one-inch lemons so far and some rice stalks growing in a bowl (my ancestors would be so proud). I graduated from Carleton College, which is about an hour south of here, and worked in the Bay Area as a software engineer before coming back to Minnesota for grad school.

Dawn Michaelson, GRaDS Coordinator

4th Year PhD working in Programming Languages.



Dawn is advised by Eric Van Wyk and Gopalan Nadathur, working on proving metatheoretic properties of extensible languages and using monads implicitly in attribute grammars. She is originally from western Wisconsin.

Mo Houtti, GRaDS Coordinator

2nd year PhD in Human-Computer Interaction.



Mo is a Computer Science PhD student in GroupLens Research, with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction. He spent the first year of his PhD in the Knights Lab, working on a wide variety of research projects in computational biology. He is currently advised by Loren Terveen. Mo is from Morocco. No, Mo is not short for Morocco. He wishes people wouldn’t ask him that any Mo. He enjoys eating the many foods that others love to hate, such as Hawaiian pizza, fake maple syrup, and oatmeal raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies.

Sai Sundar, Events Coordinator

1st Year Masters in Data Science interested in Statistics, Data Engineering and Data Visualization



Sai is a Data Science Masters student with current research interests in Data Visualization and Data Engineering. He loves the outdoors just as much as the indoors, i.e., he would be down to go for hike just as much as staying indoors and playing video games. He is a huge film and music nerd. Also, he enjoys sports and currently focuses on weightlighting, badminton and squash. Most importantly, he enjoys learning new things, no matter the topic.

Zach Leidall, Events Coordinator

6th Year PhD working in Distributed Systems.



Zach is a Computer Science PhD Candidate whose research focuses on enabling efficient and intelligent concurrency in Internet of Things (IoT) systems. Zach is also the Lab Ambassador for Prof. Jon Weissman of the Distributed Computing Systems Group (DCSG) lab. His interests include volunteering for humanitarian organizations as well as video games, films, literature, cooking/baking, as well as outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking. Zach is also a big fan of the Minnesota craft beer scene and occasionally does some homebrewing.

Deb Das, Events Coordinator

Ph.D. student focusing on natural language processing.



Deb (She/ Her) is a Computer Science Ph.D. student focusing on natural language processing applied in other domains like computational advertising and social networks. She is advised by Jaideep Srivastava and is a part of the DMR (Data Analysis and Management Research) group.

Deb also holds the role of the graduate coordinator for the women in computer science and is a member of the CS-IDEA group focusing on diversity and inclusiveness of students in Computer Science. Feel free to contact her to know more about any of these groups!

Grad student by day, no0b chef by night - Deb loves experimenting in the kitchen and creating different cuisines. In her spare time, she can be found hiking in Minnesota’s several beautiful national parks or visiting breweries.

Yashasvi Sriram Patkuri, Events Coordinator

2nd Year MS working in AI and Robotics.



Hey stranger! I am a Computer Science masters student with current research interests in sensing and planning in robotics. I enjoy math, art, travelling and adventures. I like hiking, water sports like stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and outdoor sports rock climbing, snowboarding, surfing... I am an open-source enthusiast and believe in the unix philosophy and minimalism.

Sid Suresh, Events Coordinator


2nd year Master Student interested in Data Engineering.


Georgie Qiao Jin, Events Coordinator


2nd Year PhD working in Social Computing/Human-Computer Interaction.


Georgie is a second year CS PhD student focusing on social computing and human-computer interaction. She graduated from Chinese Academy of Science and came to Grouplens Research Center -- a social computing lab with a focus on building and understanding sociotechnical systems used by real people -- to start her PhD life. She enjoys reading fiction novels and she is a big fan of The Three-Body Problem.

Previous officers