Message from CS Department Head

The Department of Computer science has risen to the many challenges posed last year by the global pandemic.  We are proud of our achievements in both research and education this past year.

The trajectory of the department is quite exciting.  At the start of the Fall semester, the faculty was the largest in the history of the department, with 22 Professors and 8 Lecturers.  As points of comparison, when I joined the department as a Ph.D student in 1990, there were 11 Professors, and when I re-joined as a Professor in 2009, there were 12 Professors and four Lecturers.  Our enrollments are booming, with about 1400 undergraduates and nearly 100 graduate students.  Our students continue to win prestigious awards and fellowships.  More impressively, they have seamlessly adapted to the virtual classroom over the past year.

We were excited to add two faculty members in August.  Sazzadur Rahman joins us as an Assistant Professor.  Sazzadur recently completed his Ph.D at Virginia Tech and specializes in computer security; he joins a strong security group that includes Christian Collberg and Saumya Debray.  Melanie Lotz joins us as a Lecturer.  Melanie holds an M.S. degree from Purdue and was a Lecturer at Purdue for three years before moving here.  Other good news includes three successful promotions: Josh Levine and Carlos Scheidegger to Associate Professor and Beichuan Zhang to Professor.  

The faculty continues to expand the research of the department.  For much of the department’s history, the research profile was one of computer systems and algorithms.  Today, we remain strong in those areas, but our growth has allowed us to add research groups in information visualization, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and high-performance computing.  Research funding is strong, having increased nearly five-fold over the last decade.  Multiple faculty have spun off their research into start-up companies in the last several years.  Faculty winning awards for most influential research included Christian Collberg, Saumya Debray, and Stephen Kobourov.  Additionally, Kate Isaacs recently won the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award.

The faculty and students could not have achieved all of this without our fine and dedicated staff.  Martin Marquez (our Director of Academic Services) leads a team of four professional advisors, a graduate program coordinator, a coordinator of career development, and an administrative assistant.   Alicia Cool (our Business Manager) handles the ever-growing grants and contracts for the department, and Eric Collins (Manager of Lab Staff) administers both our teaching- and research-related infrastructure.  

Looking forward to 2021, the department is well-positioned to emerge from the pandemic as a much stronger unit.  Much has been learned about carrying out teaching- and research-related activities remotely.  We should be able to integrate this new knowledge to be even more productive once we are back in person.

 

Dave Lowenthal
Professor and Interim Department Head