Meet the women of ExCEL


About us

Our group was founded in January 2008.  Since joining the Rice faculty in Fall 2006, ECE assistant professor Farinaz Koushanfar had wanted to realize her idea of forming a women’s group in the department.  In early 2008, with the warm support and encouragement from the ECE chair, Prof. Behnaam Aazhang, and many other faculty members, she called together the women graduate students in the department to co-found the group. The enthusiasm, leadership, and energy of Prof. Koushanfar and the students drove the establishment of the organization – women ExCEL!

Members :
– faculty (see the list)
– graduate students (see the list)
– alumni (see the list)

If you are a female graduate student or faculty in the ECE department and would like to make a difference in the community, please join our group by sending an e-mail to excel at rice dot edu or join our group on Facebook.


Farinaz Koushanfar, Ph.D., Assistant professor

Testimonial: I’m truly excited about having the unique opportunity to be working with the excellent group of future leaders at EXCEL. Our department is well-known for its outstanding cutting-edge research activities as well as for its collegial culture. We hope to make an even more welcoming, interesting, and nurturing department for us and for younger generations of women. Through teamwork and scholarship, with a united network of graduate and undergraduate women, we will make a difference!

Isabell Thomann, Ph.D., Assistant professor

Her research interests are: energy, photocatalysis, ultrafast spectroscopy and nanophotonics.

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Graduate students:
Eva Dyer
Eva Dyer received her BSEE in May of 2007 from the University of Miami with a double major in Audio Engineering and Applied Physics. While at the University of Miami, she worked for the Edward Arnold Center for Confluent Media Studies as a multimedia designer and assistant sound designer for the documentary One Water: A collaborative effort for a sustainable future. In the summer of 2006, she conducted research in the Engineering Research Center for Computer Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology at The Johns Hopkins University. Eva is now a third year graduate student in the DSP group at Rice University where she works with professors Richard Baraniuk and Don Johnson. Upon entering into the Ph.D. program at Rice, Eva was awarded a Presidential Fellowship from the George R. Brown School of Engineering and a Texas Instruments Distinguished Graduate Fellowship. In June of 2008, she was accepted into the W.M. Keck Interdisciplinary Bioscience Training Program in Computational Biology and Medicine. In April of 2009, she was awarded an NSF graduate research fellowship to support her study of the role that connectivity constraints in the cortex play in sensorineural information processing. 
Current Position: 
Previous Positions: Media & Web Design, President
 Azalia Mirhoseini

Azalia Mirhoseini received her BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Iran in June of 2009. She joined Rice ECE department as a PhD student working under supervision of professor Farinaz Koushanfar. Her research interest is power efficient and adaptive system design. Azalia is a recipient of Microsoft Research Graduate Women’s Scholarship, IBM Research PhD Scholarship, and Schlumberger Scholarship.

Current Position: Vice President and E-mail Manager
Previous Positions: Media & Web Design

  Manjari Narayan received her B.S from UIUC in 2007 and is currently working on her Masters with Dr. Baraniuk in image processing.
Current Position: Advisor
Previous Positions: Treasurer
 Samantha Summerson

Samantha Summerson (Sam) received her B.A. in Applied Mathematics with an emphasis in Systems Theory from UC Berkeley.  She entered the ECE PhD program at Rice in the Fall of 2007 and is currently worked towards her M.S. under the direction of Dr. Behnaam Aazhang.  Her research focus is in information theory applied to wireless cooperative communications.  Since being at Rice, Sam has become a TI and NSF Fellow, and has been involved in student organizations including AGEP and Empowering Leadership Alliance (ELA). 
Current Position: Advisor
Previous Positions: President, Vice-President, Outreach Coordinator, Treasurer


Chaitra Rai was born in Zambia, Southern Africa. She completed her undergraduate degree in Bangalore, India in Electrical and Electronics engineering and her Masters in microelectronic circuits at the University of Toulouse 3 in France. She then interned at LAAS-CNRS National Laboratories in France and is currently a second year Ph.D. student at Rice. 
Current Position:  Advisor
Previous Positions: President, Vice-President

 Corina Ionita

Corina Ionita (Serediuc) was born in Constanta, Romania. She received the title of Diploma Engineer in Automatic Control and Computer Engineering from University Politehnica of Bucharest, Romania. The research for the diploma project was done at Laboratoire d’Automatique de Grenoble, INPG, France. In Fall 2008, Corina joined Rice University as a graduate student and she is interested in Wireless Networks Communications. 
Current Position: Publicity and WebDesign 
Previous Positions: Vice-President, President, Outreach coordinator


Sitara Wijeratne received her B.S. degrees in Physics and Pure Mathematics (June 2008) from University of California, Riverside. She’s currently in the Applied Physics Ph.D. program and affiliated with the ECE department and the Rice Quantum Institute at Rice University. 
Current Position: Room reservation
Previous Positions: Event Manager

   Aida Vosoughi received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in computer engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran in 2006, and 2008, respectively. She received her M.S. in electrical engineering from Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND in 2010. Aida started her Ph.D. studies in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Rice University, Houston, TX in 2011. She is currently a research assistant in the VLSI signal processing group at ECE Department of Rice University under the supervision of Professor Joseph Cavallaro. Her research interests include VLSI design for wireless applications, data encryption and compression, hardware/software co-design, low power design, and reconfigurable computing. In her free time, Aida likes to watch movies, play games, hang out with friends and play her favorite instrument Tombak. 
Current Position: Food manager and WebDesign
Previous Positions: Resource Researcher
   Rajoshi Biswas received her B.E.(hons.) from Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani, India in Electronics and Instrumentation in July, 2011. She joined Rice University in Fall 2011 as a PhD student and is working with Dr. Sabharwal on the Scalable Health Initiative. 
Current Position: Publicity and Room reservation
Previous Positions: Event Manager
   Jingwen Bai was born in Xining, China. She received her B.E degree in Electronic Science and Technology from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications in July, 2011.  She joined the PhD program in Rice University in 2011. Currently she is  a research assistant in Center for Multimedia Communications (CMC) under supervision of Prof. Ashutosh Sabharwal. Her research interest is interference management in wireless communication. 
Current Position: Vice President and Event Scheduler
Previous Positions: Outreach and Publicity, Resource Researcher
   Adriana Flores received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering with emphasis in Telecommunications from (ITESM) Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Monterrey Mexico. She entered the ECE PhD program at Rice in fall of 2011 and will obtain her Masters in spring 2013 and PhD spring 2016. She works under the guidance of Dr. Edward Knightly, as a member of the Rice Networks Group. Her research focus on wireless communications, specifically in Medium Access Control protocols that aim efficient channel usage through spectrum adaptation to asymmetric traffic and topologies. 
Current Position: President 

Previous Positions: Outreach and Publicity
  Kim Reichel received her B.S. in Pure Physics and Applied Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science at the University of Miami in 2012. She was honored to participate in the Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP), which gave her an opportunity to work at NASA Johnson Space Center with the Antenna Group doing Computational Electromagnetics (CEM). Kim is now a graduate student in the Applied Physics Program at Rice University, hosted by the ECE Department, under advisor Dr. Daniel Mittleman with a focus in Terahertz Science and Technology. Kim also has a passion for educating the next generation and won First Place in Mission:Optibox, a youth science education demonstration of optical principles. In addition to EXCEL, she has served as founding member and Treasurer of the Optical Society of America (OSA) Student Chapter, Applied Physics Graduate Association (APGSA) Treasurer, and President of Rice Graduate Christian Fellowship (RGCF). 
 Position: Even Scheduler and President
Previous Positions: Outreach Coordinator

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Melissa Duarte
graduated May 2012,

Sanda Lefteriu
graduated May 2012,

Mona Sheikh
graduate May 2012,

Sara Joiner

Deepa Ramachandran

Sandya Pai
graduated May 2010.

Roxana Ionutiu
graduated May 2008,

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