Five years ago, Lan Vu moved to Colorado from Vietnam to pursue a master's in computer science at the University of Colorado Denver. Inspired by her research and her faculty, Vu is now pursuing a PhD in computer science and information systems.
"My current research was inspired by my undergraduate research in handwriting character recognition," says Vu. "I developed software to learn optical character patterns, and the training task frustrated me because it was a very time consuming. When taking the Parallel and Distributed Systems course at CU Denver, I was extremely excited to find a solution for this issue." This finding motivated her to continue her studies and investigate parallel computing at a deeper and broader level.
Vu is researching new parallel methods for data mining tasks which are applied in large-scale data analysis applications. The goal is to efficiently deploy these applications on large computer systems, like clusters and supercomputers.
Since beginning her studies, Vu has been an asset to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. She manages the Parallel and Distributed Systems (PDS) Lab and is charged with ensuring that the machines support all of the lab's teaching and research activities. She says the most important characteristic of a good lab administrator is providing adequate technical support so that students can fully utilize the available computing power of machines. Vu is constantly developing new expertise to meet student and faculty needs.
"I built the PDS Lab website with basic technical documents, and I designed a set of lab assignment instructions to give graduate students hands-on experience working on multi-core computer systems," says Vu. "I love assisting graduate students in their studies related to lab activities like research ideas, debugging parallel programs, consulting, instructing and installing software."
Her advisor, Computer Science and Engineering Chair Gita Alaghband, says Vu is creative, self-motivated and thoughtful in her research; she always takes the initiative to get things done to the best of her abilities. These qualities contributed to Vu receiving the 2012 Outstanding Graduate Student in Computer Science and Engineering award.
"Receiving this award was a great honor because there are a lot of excellent students in our department," she says. "I immediately showed it to my parents in Vietnam to let them know that I am doing well in the United States. It also motivates me to work harder."
One day, her hard work will pay off. "My greatest desire is to become a professor who researches new advanced computing methods and can disseminate the knowledge of these methods to community and society, especially students and colleagues," says Vu. She credits CU Denver for enabling her to pursue her dream or a career in research.
"I am very thankful for the support I have received from CU Denver. It encourages me to work harder for meaningful research results and to be active with all of my academic activities."