York computer student ranks among best in North America

li yan

A York computer science student staked her claim as one of the top future computer talents in North America by being named in a group of finalists for the Computer Research Association’s annual undergraduate awards. Li Yan, left, a fourth-year student in the Computer Science Department’s specialized honours degree program, was one of only two Canadians named as a finalist for the award which went to a student from Boston’s Northeastern University.

Yan said she was surprised at being a finalist, although she has won numerous accolades including Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) undergraduate research awards in 2003 and 2004. “The fact is I have been working so hard for three years, maintaining top GPA and doing research but this award still gave me a surprise,” said Yan, whose research areas of interest include virtual locomotion, human-computer interaction, virtual environments, and computer vision.

Yan credited her “excellent” fellow students for creating an environment that inspired her to also win entry into the highly competitive NSERC summer research program. She also complimented department faculty, including her supervisor, Robert Allison. “I was very impressed by his wide and deep knowledge of engineering, biology, computer science and psychology,” Yan said.

In her time at York, Yan has won several scholarship awards, been a member of Women in Computer Science & Engineering@York, and served as president of the University Bible Fellowship at York. On a trip to China she visited the National Optometry Research Centre and the School of Optometry and Ophthalmology at Wenzhou Medical College and initiated contacts between those organizations and York.

The Computing Research Association (CRA) was formed in 1972 and is based in Washington, DC. The association seeks to strengthen research and advanced education in computing and allied fields and counts among its members more than 200 North American organizations active in computing research including academic departments of computer science and computer engineering; laboratories and centres in industry, government and academia; and affiliated professional societies. CRA works with these organizations to represent the computing research community and to effect change that benefits both computing research and society at large.