One of the highest honors the campus can bestow, named chairs and professorships acknowledge outstanding faculty research, service, and education accomplishments. In the coming weeks, seven Illinois Computer Science faculty—Jeff Erickson, Svetlana Lazebnik, Craig Zilles, Tarek Abdelzaher, Carl Gunter, Geoffrey Herman, and Klara Nahrstedt—will receive these titles for the 2021 and 2022 academic years.
The investiture process is possible thanks to the generosity of CS alumni and friends.
On April 27, Erickson will be invested as the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Professor, Lazebnik as the Donald Biggar Willett Faculty Scholar, and Zilles as the Severns Faculty Scholar. On May 11, Abdelzaher will be invested as the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Professor in Computer Science, Gunter as the George and Ann Fisher Distinguished Professor, Herman as the Severns Teaching Associate Professor, and Nahrstedt as the Grainger Distinguished Chair in Engineering.
Sohaib Abbasi (BS ‘78, MS ’80) and his wife, Sara, established the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Professorship to enable the department to maintain its stature as one of the nation’s premiere departments and give students the opportunity to learn from a world-renown computer scientist and educator. They have also endowed the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Computer Science Fellowship.
Together, George and Ann Fisher, have pledged $2 million to the College of Engineering to fund two George and Ann Fisher Distinguished Professorships and two Ralph M. and Catherine V. Fisher Professorships, the latter in honor of Dr. Fisher’s parents.
The Grainger Distinguished Chairs in Engineering are made possible by the Grainger Engineering Breakthroughs Initiative, the result of a $100 million investment in the Grainger College of Engineering.
The Willett Research Initiatives in Engineering funds term professorships, undergraduate and graduate student research, and related research activity. It honors the memory of Donald Biggar Willett (1897-1981) who attended the University of Illinois from 1916-1921.
The William H. Severns Faculty Scholar named appointment recognizes faculty for demonstrating “significant and sustained impact on the development of new and impactful teaching techniques, broadening the educational experience of engineering students, and/or motivating the education of engineering students through bringing practical, real-world experiences into the classroom.” The honor is named after late mechanical engineering professor William H. Severns.
Congratulations to each of the following for their incredible dedication to academic service here at Illinois CS.
Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Professor
Jeff Erickson is a computational geometer, topologist, and graphophile with more general interests in algorithms, data structures, and lower bounds. He has been a faculty member in Illinois Computer Science since 1998 and a full professor since 2010. He teaches mostly large algorithms classes, and his Algorithms textbook is used in dozens of computer science departments and by myriads of students, recruiters, and professionals around the world.
He earned a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley (1996) under the guidance of advisor Raimund Seidel; a MS in Information and Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine (1992); and a BA in Computer Science/Mathematical Sciences from Rice University (1987). Prior to his work in academia, Erickson also spent time as a software engineer at Claris Corporation in Santa Clara, California and Styleware, Inc. in Houston, Texas.
From 2013 to 2016, Erickson was an associate department head and chair of the faculty recruiting committee. Among many other conference committee memberships, he was the chair of the community-elected steering committee for the International Symposium on Computational Geometry (SOCG) from 2013 to 2016. He is currently a SafeTOC (anti-harassment) advocate for SOCG and for the ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (SODA). He is also a member of the Illinois CS CARES committee.
Through his research, Erickson has published over 100 technical papers in computational geometry, computational topology, graph algorithms, and related topics at the intersection of computer science and mathematics. He is also an Education Innovation Fellow in the Grainger College of Engineering’s Academy of Excellence in Engineering Education. Exactly half of his former PhD students have won NSF CAREER awards. His own awards include a Sloan Research Fellowship, an NSF CAREER Award, and numerous teaching and research awards from the University of Illinois.
Donald Biggar Willett Faculty Scholar
Svetlana Lazebnik is a Professor within Illinois Computer Science whose research and teaching focuses on computer vision. The main themes of her research include scene understanding, joint modeling of images and text, large-scale photo collections, and machine learning techniques for visual recognition problems.
She received her PhD (2006) under the supervision of Professor Jean Ponce and MS (2002) in Computer Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She holds a BS in Computer Science with a Mathematics minor from DePaul University (2000).
Prior to joining the faculty at Illinois Computer Science in 2012, Lazebnik was an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Current and former sources of support for her research include the National Science Foundation, Amazon Research Award, AWS Machine Learning Research Award, Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship, Xerox University Affairs Committee Grants, DARPA Computer Science Study Group, Sloan Foundation Fellowship, Google Research Award, ARO, and Adobe.
Acknowledgments of her work in academia include the 2021 University Scholar Award; 2021 IEEE Fellow; 2020 and 2013 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research; 2017 Distinguished Alumni Educator Award; 2013 Sloan Research Fellowship; 2013 C.W. Gear Outstanding Junior Faculty Award; 2008 NSF CAREER Award.
Severns Faculty Scholar
Craig Zilles is a Professor with Illinois Computer Science who currently focuses his research on applying computing and data analytics to education, including the development of the Computer-based Testing Facility (CBTF). Historically, his research has focused on the interaction between compilers and computer architecture, especially in the context of managed and dynamic languages. Prior to his work on computer architecture and compilers, he developed the first algorithm that allowed rendering arbitrary three-dimensional polygonal shapes for haptic interfaces (force-feedback human-computer interfaces).
He received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2002) for his work with Guri Sohi on Speculative Slices and Master/Slave Speculative Parallelization. Prior to that, Zilles earned a MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1998), as well as a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1995).
Zilles has been widely recognized for excellent teaching at the undergraduate level; he received the campus Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2018, the IEEE Education Society’s 2010 Mac Van Valkenburg Early Career Teaching Award, The Grainger College of Engineering’s Rose Award and Everitt Award for Teaching Excellence, and Illinois Student Senate Teaching Excellence Award.
Additionally, he holds 5 patents, is a recipient of an NSF CAREER Award, and his research has been recognized by best paper awards from ASPLOS in 2010 and 2013 and by selection for inclusion in the IEEE Micro Top Picks from the 2008 Computer Architecture Conferences.
Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Professor in Computer Science
Tarek Abdelzaher is a Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Professor of Computer Science and Willett Faculty Scholar at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), with over 300 refereed publications in Real-time Computing, Distributed Systems, Sensor Networks, and the Internet-of-Things (IoT).
He received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Michigan (1999). Additionally, Abdelzaher earned his BSc in Computer and Systems Engineering (1990) and his MSc in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (1994) from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt.
Abdelzaher’s research interests lie broadly in understanding and influencing performance and temporal properties of networked embedded, social, and software systems in the face of increasing complexity, distribution, and degree of interaction with an external physical environment.
Over the course of his career thus far, Abdelzaher received the IEEE Outstanding Technical Achievement and Leadership Award in Real-time Systems (2012), the Xerox Award for Faculty Research (2011), as well as several best paper awards. He is a senior member of IEEE and a fellow of ACM. He also has served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Real-Time Systems for 20 years, and as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, IEEE Embedded Systems Letters, the ACM Transaction on Sensor Networks, ACM Transactions on Internet Technology, ACM Transactions on Internet of Things, and the Ad Hoc Networks Journal.
George and Ann Fisher Distinguished Professor
Carl A. Gunter is the George and Ann Fisher Distinguished Professor in Engineering in the Computer Science Department of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He also serves as the director of Illinois Security Lab, lead of the Genomic Security and Privacy Theme at the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB), and the founding chair for the Security and Privacy Area of the Department of Computer Science.
After receiving his BA from the University of Chicago (1979), Gunter went on to earn his PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (1985). He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Cambridge in England before joining the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1987 and then UIUC in 2004.
Gunter has made research contributions in the semantics of programming languages, formal methods, security, and privacy. His contributions to the semantics of programming languages include the interpretation of subtypes using implicit coercions, type inference for continuations and prompts, the use of Grothendieck fibrations as a model of parametric polymorphism, the mixed powerdomain, and the use of Petri nets as a model of linear logic.
His 1992 textbook and his chapter in the Handbook of Theoretical Computer Science (1990) are standard references on the semantics of programming languages. Gunter’s recent research focuses on security and privacy issues for the electric power grid and healthcare information technologies.
Severns Teaching Associate Professor
As the Severns Teaching Associate Professor at Illinois Computer Science, Geoffrey Herman’s primary goal is to create systemic change in engineering and computers science education. To achieve this mission, he is working to build his capacity as an education researcher while coordinating and leading innovation efforts at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).
Herman received his BS in Electrical Engineering (2005), his MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2007) and his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2011) – all from UIUC – under the guidance of advisors Michael C. Loui and Craig Zilles.
He conducted postdoctoral research with Ruth Streveler in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Before Herman joined the faculty at Illinois Computer Science, he spent three years with the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education working to develop sustainable innovations to engineering and computer science education.
Herman’s research interests include creating systems for sustainable improvement in engineering and computer science education, conceptual change and development in engineering and computer science students and change in faculty beliefs about teaching and learning. His teaching interests are primarily focused on first- and second-year computer science and engineering courses. These courses include digital logic design, computer organization, introductory programming, analog signal processing, and digital signal processing. He is also interested in teaching graduate-level courses in engineering and computer science education, such as cognition and the science of learning, educational research methodologies, and assessment.
He is a recipient of the 2011 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Educational Research and Methods Division Apprentice Faculty Grant. Herman helps steer the College of Engineering Dean’s Strategic Instructional Initiatives Program and consults with the Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education at the University of Illinois.
Grainger Distinguished Chair in Engineering
Klara Nahrstedt is the Grainger Distinguished Chair in Engineering in the Department of Computer Science at the University Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and the Director of the Coordinated Science Laboratory at UIUC. Her research interests are directed toward trustworthy multimedia distributed systems and networking, quality of service (QoS) and resource management in Internet and mobile systems, real-time security in wireless networks for trustworthy power grids, edge-cloud systems, cyber-physical system security for electric vehicles, health systems, 3D tele-immersive systems, and advanced edge-cloud-based cyber-infrastructures for scientific instruments.
She received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Computer and Information Science (1995). Prior to that, Nahrstedt earned her AB in mathematics with a specialization in numerical analysis from Humboldt University in Berlin (1985).
Nahrstedt is the co-author of the textbooks “Multimedia Computing, Communications and Applications”, published by Prentice Hall in 1995; “Multimedia Systems”, published by Spring Verlag in 2004; and the author of the online book “QoS in Wireless Networks over Unlicensed Spectrum”, published by Morgan & Claypool in 2012.
Her recognitions include the Early NSF Career Award in 1996, the Junior Xerox Award in 1998, the IEEE Communication Society Leonard Abraham Award for Research Achievements in 2000, the University Scholar Award in 2008, the Humboldt Research Award in 2009, IEEE Computer Society Technical Achievement Award in 2012, ACM SIG Multimedia Outstanding Technical Achievement Award in 2014, Robert Piloty Prize for Outstanding Research from Technical University Darmstadt Germany in 2018, and Tau Beta Pi Daniel C. Drucker Eminent Award from The Grainger College of Engineering at UIUC in 2019. She is also an ACM Fellow, IEEE Fellow, AAAS Fellow, and the Member of Leopoldina German National Academy of Sciences.
Prior to her work in academia, Nahrstedt was a system programmer for the Computer Center of Ministry for Agriculture in Berlin and a researcher at the Institute for Informatik, Academy of Science in Berlin.