Antunes, Bansal named as Future Faculty Fellows

New Rice Engineering program supports Ph.D. and postdoctoral students interested in pursuing academic careers.

Dinler Antunes and Suguman Bansal

The George R. Brown School of Engineering has launched a Future Faculty Fellows program to support Ph.D. and postdoctoral students who are interested in pursuing academic careers.

“The goal of the program is to help our students become more competitive for faculty positions. Fellows will receive support in preparing all elements of the faculty application and interview,” said Anjli Kumar, administrative research manager for the engineering school.

Tracy Volz, director of the school’s Engineering Communications Program, will aid fellows in preparing their written statements, curriculum vitae and faculty interview presentation. The dean of engineering and chair of the fellow’s department will conduct mock faculty interviews and provide feedback to strengthen interview skills.

Fellows will attend workshops designed to support them as they prepare for faculty interviews. To enhance teaching skills, fellows will complete a practicum in which they teach or co-teach a course within their discipline. The Center for Teaching and Excellence will provide training and observation evaluations. A monetary award of $4,000 will support each fellow for speaking at conferences and university seminars.

Rice Engineering has named its first 11 fellows including Dinler Antunes and Suguman Bansal.

Antunes is a postdoctoral research associate in computer science. He earned a B.S. in biomedicine in 2008 from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, and his M.S. (2011) and Ph.D. (2014) from the Postgraduate Program in Genetics and Molecular Biology from the same university. While a doctoral student he applied bioinformatics tools to identify molecular features responsible for immunity against viral proteins, with applications to vaccine design. Now he works with structural prediction and analysis of protein complexes involved in immune responses against cancer cells, in collaboration with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Bansal is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate advised by Moshe Y. Vardi, University Professor in computer science. Her research focuses on applying formal methods to building provably verifiable AI systems. She looks at the formal reasoning of quantitative measures of systems, and uses them to design tools and techniques for enhancing automated verification and synthesis of AI systems. She received the Andrew Ladd Fellowship and a Gold Medal at the ACM Student Research Competition in 2016. She was a visiting fellow at the Simons Institute at the University of California, Berkeley in 2018. She received her M.S. in CS from Rice in 2016 and B.S. in mathematics and CS from Chennai Mathematical Institute in 2014.