Ian Neal awarded Towner Prize for Distinguished Academic Achievement

The award recognizes active participation in research, leadership, and academic performance.
Ian Neal

Ian Neal, a PhD candidate in computer science and engineering, has been awarded the Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Prize for Distinguished Academic Achievement by the College of Engineering. This award is presented to an outstanding graduate student in each degree program at the College; the criteria considered include the student’s active participation in research, leadership, and academic performance.

In his research, Neal works to develop new methods for accurately and efficiently finding and fixing bugs. He designs tools that allow developers to automatically reason about how their programs behave so that they can repair bugs without having to understand the details behind each one. This also saves developers from needing to understand how their program’s operations may be executed on the complex underlying hardware.

Currently, he’s focused on the development of efficient and reliable systems using emerging persistent main memory technologies. His recent project Hippocrates (ASPLOS, 2021) introduced techniques for automatically repairing certain classes of bugs in persistent memory applications, saving developers time without introducing any additional vulnerabilities. His related work AGAMOTTO (OSDI, 2021) provided a new method for discovering bugs in persistent memory systems, and another project in this area (FAST, 2021) introduced a modernized file-mapping approach for persistent memory file systems that greatly improved performance. Neal is advised by Prof. Baris Kasikci.

Neal has co-authored seven papers at leading venues in his field, including three for which he was lead author. Two of his papers received MICRO Top Picks Honorable Mention, and a third was named Best Paper at the USENIX Annual Technical Conference. He also has three patents on his work at Microsoft on software-support for low-vision computer users.