Alumni Awards 2017: Lauren Mazzoli ’15, Mathematics and Computer Science, and M.S. ’17, Computer Science

In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each honoree in more detail here on our blog. Today, meet Lauren Mazzoli ’15, mathematics and computer science, and M.S. ’17, computer science, systems engineer at Northrop Grumman and this year’s recipient of the Rising Star award for outstanding graduates of the last decade.

Lauren Mazzoli

As a young woman studying in a traditionally male-dominated field, Lauren Mazzoli ’15, mathematics and computer science, and M.S. ’17, computer science, has faced her share of challenges. “There were numerous times where I could have felt overwhelmed or defeated” by the gender ratio in STEM, she writes, “but instead, I was driven to change it.” That drive has led her into a promising career as a cyber software engineer at Northrop Grumman, as well as an advocate and mentor to female engineers at both her workplace and her alma mater. A former Cyber Scholar, Mazzoli has remained involved with both that program and the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT), helping to organize career development and educational opportunities for students interested in cybersecurity. At Northrop Grumman, Mazzoli earned early accolades for her support of a time-sensitive, mission-critical project. She was recently accepted into the company’s 3-year Future Technical Leaders rotational program, and is also Vice Chair of the Women’s Employee Resource Group. Mazzoli was inspired to attend UMBC by its “friendly campus, diversity of thought, and students hungry to learn,” and she credits Dr. Marie desJardins, Dr. Penny Rheingans, and Dr. Anupam Joshi for their inspiration and support on her path through the cybersecurity field.

Join us for the Alumni Awards Ceremony on Thursday, October 5!

Alums in the News: Eye on CompSci

Our alumni have gone on to excel in many arenas, and we couldn’t be prouder of them. Today, take a look at a couple of computer science alumni who are helping to advance the increasingly vital field of cybersecurity. 

dykstraAs team technical director for the NSA’s Laboratory for Telecommunication Sciences, Josiah Dykstra ’13, Ph.D. computer science, is always coming up with new ways to combat cyber threats,
including a Google Glass-like device that alerts analysts to new threats in real time. Read more about Dykstra and his work with NSA at




butlerJamie Butler ’02, M.S. computer science, is now the chief technology officer of the Arlington, Va.-based cybersecurity firm Endgame. Butler’s cybersecurity career began at NSA, and he’s also worked for Mandiant and FireEye. Read more about Butler here.



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Roundup: UMBC in the News

One of the things that makes UMBC great is how wonderful our alumni, students, faculty, and staff are. Because of these amazing people, UMBC often finds itself “in the news,” so each week, we’ll be sharing with you a round-up of the most newsworthy achievements from our community.

Read more at UMBC Insights!

Roundup: UMBC in the News

One of the things that makes UMBC great is how wonderful our alumni, students, faculty, and staff are. Because of these amazing people, UMBC often finds itself “in the news,” so each week, we’ll be sharing with you a round-up of the most newsworthy achievements from our community.

For more newsmaking moments and campus updates, check out UMBC Insights!

Opportunities through Robotics: Kavita Krishnaswamy ’07

Every so often, we’ll chat with an alum about what they do and how they got there. Today we’re talking with Kavita Krishnaswamy ’07, mathematics and computer science. Krishnaswamy has spinal muscular atrophy and has not been able to leave her house in six years. Thanks to Beam Telepresence Technology, a robotic program that allows her to remotely view and navigate spaces through her computer screen, she’s presented her doctoral thesis and attended conferences across the country. The current Ph.D. student talks about her experience with the Beam and her research on robotics and accessibility.

KrishnaswamyQ: What’s your most memorable experience/moment at UMBC?

UMBC is a journey to fulfill, not a destination to complete. Every day was a day to remember with milestones to accomplish, wisdom to be learned, and experiences to cherish. The accumulation of my UMBC experiences has molded (and continues to mold me) for the real-world. I am so grateful that each and every experience I encountered has brought me to my place now.

One of my favorite experiences was to go to the seventh floor of the library to study and look out the bow window on a pleasant view of the entire campus. Viewing outside the window often filled with positive energy and reminded me to appreciate the everyday journey and have the perspective to soar to great heights by overcoming obstacles and promoting feelings of humility relative to the grandeur and glory of Mother Nature.

Q: How has your life changed since using the Beam telepresence robot?

I have a more active and busy lifestyle since using the Beam. I am traveling all over the world to conferences, meetings, museums, concerts, and other attractions with the Beam. Meeting new people and networking to make new contacts has been productive to advancing my research and career goals.

Q: What do you see in the future for robotic technology and how it changes the way people interact?

The future is here now! Robotics technologies will become ubiquitous as time moves forward for the benefit of humanity. Ultimately, the quality of life will improve for all.

Q: Can you tell me more about your current work?

My research involves the development of robotic systems to provide assistance and increase independence for people with disabilities. I am developing several prototype robotic systems that will support transferring, repositioning, and personal care, with a focus on accessible user interfaces for control that are feasible for persons with severe disabilities. For example, I am investigating the use of brain computer interfaces, speech recognition, and facial gestures to control a robotic interface for repositioning the arms of users with disabilities to strengthen their muscles and relieve pressure on the joints.

Q: What are your plans after graduate school?

It is the blessing of continuing education that excites me. I will always continue learning. Within the next 10 years, I will have my PhD degree, be married to [the] man I love, have a happy and healthy child, be successfully employed as a professor and researcher, have my own home, invent a number of assistive devices and robotic technologies that help increase independence for people with disabilities, make my parents proud, and be thanking God for bringing all of my dreams into reality. In all aspects, I want to be successful and do the best that I possibly can to overcome adversities that may stand against my way.

Read more about Kavita and her research!

Career Q&A: Mark Jarzynski ’11, Computer Science

Every so often, we’ll chat with an alum about what they do and how they got there. Today we’re talking with Mark Jarzynski ’11, computer science, about his work as Technical Director of Software Development here at UMBC’s Imaging Research Center (IRC).

SONY DSCName: Mark Jarzynski
Job Title: Technical Director of Software Development
Major/Minor: Computer Science/Game Development
Grad year: 2011

Q: What drew you to UMBC for your studies?

When I was in high school, I was really interested in making video games. I had heard that UMBC had a game development track within Computer Science so I went for it.

Q: You now work at the university in the IRC. Could you tell us how you got the position and talk a bit about what you do there?

I had a job as a student working for CSEE. I maintained their servers and I developed their website. When I graduated in 2011, the IRC was looking for someone with my skillset, and my boss, Geoff, encouraged me to apply.
At the IRC I maintain all of our desktops and servers,  I’m the lead programmer on our projects, and I am currently supervising six programming students. I can be working on 4-5 projects at any given time.

Q: Is there a particular professor or class at UMBC that really inspired you?

I had quite a few professors that inspired me throughout my time as a student such as Don Miner and Dr. Olano. I think the class that inspired me the most was CMSC 313, “Computer Organization and Assembly Language,” with Dennis Frey. One of my favorite projects for that class was a “bomb” program. When the program was run, it would ‘explode’ by sending an email to Professor Frey. We had to disassemble the program and use the debugger GDC to disarm the bomb so when the program ran it didn’t explode and send an email to Professor Frey saying that we’ve failed.

Q: How goes the video game design? Are you working on anything right now?

I have a license for Unity Pro and Unreal Engine. I dabble with them every once in while on my free time.

Q: What games have had the most lasting impact on you?

Warcraft III. I started playing this game back in high school and it is what got me really interested in game development. It had a map editor which I would spend an enormous amount of time creating custom maps in.

Q: What advice would you give to students considering UMBC?

Follow your passion wherever it takes you.

Alums in the News: Clements, Wohlheiter, Weston, and Hill

Here at UMBC, we take pride in what our alums accomplish after graduation. Take a moment to see which Retrievers have been on the move and making news!

james clements
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Clemson University President James Clements ’85 computer science and ’91 M.S. and ’93 Ph.D., operations analysis, recently reported on the state of Clemson University at the Florence Rotary Club. In particular, Clements said he is enthusiastic about the future of the school, eager to improve the Pee Dee Research and Education Center, and will look to motivate students and sport teams. Clements expressed a positive outlook of the future, fully supporting its students and faculty.  Read the full article.



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Karen Wohlheiter ’11 Ph.D., psychology, recently took part in a panel of 48 experts from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia which discussed the Healthy Weight Program on ABC News. This program helps children between the ages of 2 through 18 to help the families make healthy changes in their lifestyles. These changes include healthy cooking alternatives and recipes, individual and group physical activities, and learning new skills. The main focus is to prevent and and treat childhood obesity. Read more.



noah weston
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Noah Weston ’05, computer science, is overseeing the development of the Modeling Simulation, Emulation and Tool for Analysis (MODESTA) at the U.S. Army RDECOM’s communications-electronics RD&E center. The goal of this is to reduce costs and improve collaboration efficiency. Learn more about Weston’s work.


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Categorized as one of the Baltimore Sun’s 50 Women to Watch in 2014 is UMBC’s, Stephanie Hill ’86, computer science and economics. Hill is the VP and general manager of Lockheed Martin. In charge of more than 10,000 people across all 50 States and nine countries, Hill focuses on global solutions. Recently she has taken on a project working to enhance identifying suspects. Learn more about the 50 Women to Watch in 2014.

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