CIS Majors Named 2020-2021 Ripple Scholars

The College of Arts and Sciences has selected eight CIS majors as 2020-2021 Ripple Scholars. Beginning in 2019-2020, Ripple has funded scholarships for undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences who are interested in research related to cybersecurity as enhanced by secure digital transactions, blockchain and other distributed systems, cryptocurrency, or secure financial transactions and cryptography. Ripple scholarships are $5,000 per year and are renewable subject to conditions of the scholarship.  Women and underrepresented minorities are particularly encouraged to apply. More information can be found here:

More information about the awardees this year:

Sofi Vinas  is a Computer Science major with business adminstration minor, and a midfielder on the Women's Soccer team at the University of Oregon. She is very interested in software development and cybersecurity, specifically, studying security products. She is a member of the Women in Computer Science club as well as the UO Cybersecurity Club on campus.

Avi Lance is a first-year Computer Science major interested in cybersecurity and software development. He's a member of the UO Cybersecurity Club, tutors high school students in physics, and is part of a team researching how to implement better tools for teaching physics at the high school from which he graduated.

Ethan Avila's majors are Computer Science and Spanish: Language and Culture. The way people communicate fascinates him. He enjoys coding and reading poetry, and find the two similar in the fact that they come to life when they become more succinct. He is a member of the UO Cybersecurity Club and particularly interested in topics like message encryption and phishing.

Kalyn Koyanagi is currently double majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. Her current academic interests are in the areas of cybersecurity, cryptography, and software development. She has been working as a Learning Assistant for CIS 210 this past term, and she plans on doing the same for the Winter term. 

Aleksandr Stevens is a Computer Science major with an Entrepreneurship minor here at the University of Oregon. Most of his interests lie in peer-to-peer and distributed computing, specifically regarding taking advantage of the computing power in our phones and laptops. He believes that taking advantage of the latent compute power in our mobile devices can change the world, from making networks more scalable and reliable to creating communication and file-sharing networks that are uncensorable by any government entity. He is currently working on a new type of peer-to-peer content distribution network, and one of his main career goals is to create a startup company in the next few years based on this exciting technology.

Jared Knofczynski is a third-year student studying Math, Computer Science, and Music Technology at the University of Oregon. When on campus, he can often be found working at the Craft Center or hidden away in the Knight Library recording studios. He began working for the Computer Information Science department as both a Learning Assistant and CIS Ambassador in 2019, and recently began conducting research with the Oregon Network Research Group in Fall 2020. This past summer, he also conducted research on virus transmission patterns using agent-based simulations and computational modeling through the Teuscher Lab at Portland State University. Jared also received the Ripple Scholarship in 2019 and feels honored to have been selected for it a second time. His current career goals involve completing the Accelerated Masters Program in Computer Science before moving into a field that will hopefully allow him to incorporate and utilize his wide variety of interests and skills.

Daniel Leef  is currently majoring in Computer Science and Economics with a minor in Mathematics. His academic interests relate to cybersecurity, specifically in regards to detecting malicious cryptocurrency activity across and within blockchains, as well as applications of computer science to economics problems, such as with labor theory modeling and workplace optimization. He is a member of the UO club tennis team and aspire to be in a technically oriented managerial position in his near future, whether it be as a founder of his own company or in a growing division of a pre established one.

Aaron Casserly is a MACS major pursuing a Physics minor. These disciplines form a solid foundation for his interests in Quantum Computing and Artificial Intelligence. He is involved with a new UO club, Quantastic Physics, which is open to anyone with an interest in Quantum Mechanics. His career goals are torn between being a researcher or an entrepreneur, but both point to his passion for innovation. With respect to the Ripple scholarship, the advent of quantum computing will require an improvement on current cybersecurity protocols, as these computers will be able to solve factoring problems in a few seconds that might take classical computers millions or billions of years. Developing quantum encryption protocols for data transferred between quantum computers and quantum-safe cybersecurity protocols for existing computers are important initiatives. Also, the U.S. Department of Energy is seeking to develop a “quantum internet” within this decade. This will be the most secure network ever. Although his research will be more focused on quantum computing itself, there will be parts related to secure communication via quantum mechanics.