Aleksandra Faust, a senior computer science research & development engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, was selected to receive the Tom L. Popejoy Dissertation Prize during the University of New Mexico’s graduate commencement. Her dissertation was titled "Reinforcement Learning and Planning for Preference Balancing Tasks."

She received her Ph.D. in the Computer Science program in the Fall of 2011

While attending UNM, Faust was a recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Student in Computer Science Award, the New Mexico Space Grant Fellowship and the Sandia National Laboratories Doctoral Studies Program Fellowship.

Faust earned in the fall of 2011, with distinction, her Ph.D. in Computer Science from UNM, a Master of Computer Science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Bachelor in Mathematics from University of Belgrade, Serbia.

Faust, who will receive a $1,000 stipend as part of the prize, enjoys STEM outreach in Albuquerque. Her research interests include artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning.

Each year UNM awards the Tom L. Popejoy Dissertation Prize, which was established as a permanent memorial to the late Tom L. Popejoy, UNM president from 1948 to 1968. The award recognizes and encourages the highest level of academic excellence among doctoral students.