Xiaodong Zhang (MS CompSci '85, PhD '89) left the College of William and Mary, where he has taught computer science since 1997, to become chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Ohio State University in January. He also holds an endowed chair professorship, the Robert M. Critchfield Professor in Engineering, at OSU.
After earning his PhD at CU-Boulder, Zhang established the High Performance Computing and Software Laboratory at the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1992. He has supervised more than 40 graduate students, post-docs, and visiting scholars over the last 14 years, and he served as program director of advanced computational research at the National Science Foundation from 2001 to 2004.
"I think I have been well prepared and am ready to lead a large and research-intensive department in a world-class university," says Zhang, adding that what he savors most about his academic career are the joys of learning and of interacting with young people. "Confucius defines himself as 'a man who has never become tired of learning and teaching.' I think an academic institution creates the best environment for one to attempt to attain the Confucian realm."
In addition to teaching students in the United States, Zhang organizes and lectures in the Dragon Star Lecture Program, which offers advanced computer science research classes for talented graduate students at many Chinese universities.
Zhang says he "considers Boulder as my second hometown, where I received a first-class graduate education, was cared for and guided by my three advisors, and made many friends." His advisors included the late Ralph Slutz, who was a pioneer in computing, along with current computer science faculty Robert Schnabel and Richard Byrd.
"Boulder is an open city welcoming all kinds of people, including many foreign students like me," he says. "Boulder is also a city with a high spirit of outdoor fitness . . . I still miss the times when I rode my bike fighting snowstorms at the foot of the Rocky Mountains."