Department Update - Spring 2013

Note From the Chair, Jim Martin

Jim MartinThese are exciting times for computer scientists. Advances in computing are transforming society in ways that we couldn't have dreamed of a few years ago. This excitement about computing is reflected in our enrollments, which are growing at an amazing rate after a decade-long lull. We have well over 500 students enrolled across our programs, with more growth on the horizon thanks to CU's exciting new B.A. in Computer Science featured in this newsletter.

With more than $5 million in research expenditures last year and a similar amount in new awards this year, our faculty is conducting novel research that addresses many of society's greatest challenges.

The last few years have seen many changes in our ranks, with the addition of Tom Yeh, Judy Stafford, and Elizabeth White to our faculty. Tom comes to us from MIT with research interests in Human-Centered Computing. Judy and Elizabeth are PhD alumnae of our own CS department. After a successful career at Tufts University, Judy returned to Boulder this year to manage our beloved Senior Projects course. Elizabeth has taken over responsibility for lower-division curriculum. In addition, we are searching for two new faculty in the areas of machine learning and cyber-physical systems.

I hope you enjoy learning about the exciting activities in our department, and I invite our alumni and friends to keep in touch!

Atlas Building with Flatirons behind
CU's new computer science degree, offered to students in the College of
Arts and Sciences, is another step toward interdisciplinary education.

CU introduces new BA in computer science

Recognizing that modern computing is a highly interdisciplinary activity and responding to employers' demands for graduates skilled in this area, the Department of Computer Science has developed a new degree that will extend computer science education to students in CU's College of Arts and Sciences.

This new CU Bachelor of Arts degree in computer science aims to attract students with intellectual interests in diverse areas including geology, linguistics, biology, physics, communication, and the fine arts. Students in the new degree program will take several of the same computing classes that our students pursuing a BS degree would take, but will be able to augment their education with arts and science courses and develop the interdisciplinary skills needed to fill computing jobs in a wide variety of industrial and governmental settings.

"These graduates will be attractive to technology companies because the task of software-product development requires more than just workers skilled at programming, but also requires workers skilled in psychology, communication, business, quality assurance, etc.," said Ken Anderson, associate chair of the CS department.

The new degree program meshes well with the recent growth of our CS faculty and its broadening research and teaching efforts. Many of our faculty members have strong interests in areas that were once considered outside the purview of academic computer science, including medical informatics, 3D modeling animation for gaming and entertainment, social media, educational technology, and molecular biology. When the first BA majors sign up in the fall of 2013, they will be greeted by a faculty that is enthusiastic about this broadening of our student body.
Learn More >>

Cardiologist alum returns to CU to seek digital solutions for health care

Nelson PragerAfter 20 years as a practicing cardiologist, CU chemical engineering and chemistry alumnus Nelson Prager has returned to Boulder to pursue a master's degree in computer science.

The 1980 BS graduate said he is motivated by the many inroads that computing has had in medicine since he began his career, and by the multitude of complex, unresolved technical issues that researchers need to address.

As medicine goes digital, the industry faces many complex problems left to solve.

Patient records are often input electronically now, but Prager says the process is laborious and the current voice capture software is imprecise and clumsy to use. Databases of patient records and imaging are readily available, but the fact that databases are not interconnected makes searching them a massive task. Because many electronic documents are images and not digital text, the process of searching and integrating medical data from multiple sources is complicated further. Despite significant advances in digital imaging, most of the data is still 2D rather than 3D.

We're excited to have Dr. Prager in our department, where he will be conducting research with our department chair, Jim Martin. His experience will enable him to explore areas that the average graduate student in computer science would find impenetrable, and we look forward to helping him discover digital solutions that could improve health care for us all!

Faculty/student research project leads to successful startup

Manish Vachharajani and John GiacomoniFormer CU professor Manish Vachharajani (at left) and his student John Giacomoni (at right) recently sold LineRate Systems to F5 Networks. LineRate Systems emerged from research Manish and John did at CU, and was based in part of technology licensed from the University of Colorado. F5 plans to maintain an office in Boulder to continue work on the LineRate product and technology.

LineRate's product provides a platform for scaling large, distributed business applications. The company has been acquired by Seattle-based F5 Networks Inc., an $8 billion networking firm.
Learn More >>

Six retired faculty members

Faculty retirements

Several senior members of the computer science faculty have retired over the past few years. Retirements since May 2010 include Clarence (Skip) Ellis, Gary Nutt, Michael Main, Bruce Sanders, Gerhard Fischer, and Richard Byrd. We thank them for their service and wish them well!

Young faculty shine in research, awards

Katie SiekKatie Siek will receive the Borg Early Career Award in Paris in May. The award is given annually to a woman who has made significant research contributions and has had a substantial impact on advancing women in computing. Katie and fellow CS faculty member Mike Eisenberg were awarded nearly $6,000 by the National Science Foundation for their project "Health Sense: Motivating Health Awareness in Children through Wearable Computing."



Aaron ClausetAlong with Mark Newman at the University of Michigan and Cris Moore at the Santa Fe Institute, Aaron Clauset has been awarded a $3 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to develop network analysis techniques based on probabilistic generative models. His paper, "Estimating the historical and future probabilities of large terrorist events," co-authored with Ryan Woodward at ETH Zurich, has been selected for special coverage by the journal Annals of Applied Statistics. Only one paper a year receives this honor.



Nikolaus CorrellNikolaus Correll was awarded a NASA Early Career Faculty Fellowship for his research aimed at facilitating the eventual production of food in space to enable extended space missions. Along with PhD student Halley Profita and researcher Nicholas Farrow, he also won the award for Best Use of Technology at the International Symposium on Wearable Computing, for their shirt that resolves directionality of sound for the deaf.



Bor-yuh Evan ChangBor-Yuh Evan Chang has been awarded an NSF Early Career Award for "Bridging the Gap Between User and Tool Reasoning." The project investigates creating program analysis tools that not only point out potential defects in software but assist in diagnosing and fixing them. With fellow CS collaborator Jeremy Siek, he was also awarded an NSF grant for their project "Modular Reflection." The goal of this research project is to develop techniques that enable deep analysis allow programs that introspect and dynamically alter their behavior, and in doing so, improve the reliability and speed of modern mobile and web applications.


Sriram SankaranarayananSriram Sankaranarayanan was selected to receive the College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean's Performance Award for Junior Faculty for 2012. Sriram's research centers around verifying the correctness of cyber-physical systems: finding defects in software or proving that no such defects exist. He has recently been collaborating with researchers at Toyota Motors on techniques for finding bugs in automotive control systems. A new project funded by Toyota starting in April 2013 will help fund this initiative. Another thrust of his research lies in designing reliable control.

Attend CS colloquia!

The Department holds colloquia throughout the fall and spring semesters. These colloquia, open to the public, are typically held on Thursday afternoons. If you would like to receive email notification of upcoming colloquia, subscribe to our Colloquia Mailing List.

Alumni Classnotes: Where Are They Now?

If you want to be featured in this newsletter, or just want us to know what you are up to now, visit our online form to update your info.

Lucy Sanders (MS CompSci '78), CEO of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), was selected to receive the 2012 A. Nico Habermann Award. Lucy, along with colleagues Robert Schnabel and Telle Whitney, were given the award in recognition of their joint efforts to establish and sustain NCWIT, a national resource dedicated to encouraging greater participation of women in the development of computing technology.

Kyle Way (ElEngr/CompSci '84, MS ElEngr '87) sent his triplets (Dylan, Taylor, and Adrienne) to CU this fall where they are enjoying their freshman year. Dylan plans to major in electrical engineering, Taylor in aerospace engineering, and Adrienne in film studies.

Pamela Drew (Math '87, MS CompSci '87, PhD '91) was appointed president of the Information Systems business area at Exelis, based in Herndon, Virginia. Pam previously was senior vice president of strategic capabilities and technology at TASC, Inc., where she led a team that provided systems engineering and integration, cybersecurity, financial and business analytics, and test and evaluation solutions to address intelligence, defense and federal-civilian customer needs.

Herb Morreale (CompSci '91) was selected to receive the college's 2013 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award. Herb currently is the founder and CEO of 6kites, Inc. and chairman of Topplers, a charitable organization that annually gives the Domino Award to computer science students.

Tadayoshi Kohno (CompSci '99) was featured on PBS's NOVA scienceNOW in October in an episode that examines whether science can help solve crime. Kohno serves on the CS faculty at the University of Washington. His work includes showing how cars, medical devices and other interconnected gadgets can be hacked. Read more >>

Leah Buechley (MS CompSci '03, PhD '07) will present "Learning to Love Technology by Making Arts and Crafts" on April 10 as part of the ATLAS Speaker Series at CU-Boulder. Leah is an associate professor at the MIT Media Lab where she directs the High-Low Tech research group and is an expert in electronic textiles.

Scott Carpenter (CompSci '03) has spent the last year and a half helping grow Skytap, Inc., a Seattle cloud computing startup.

Aaron Cephers (CompSci '10) has started his own tech business.

Since graduating, Doug Stillings (CompSci '12) started a job at Ricoh, moved to Longmont, and had a baby, born in August 2012.