Weekly Memo

Sept. 16, 2013

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

    Congratulations to Xi-Cheng Zhang, director of The Institute of Optics, who has been selected to receive the 2014 Kenneth J. Button prize for outstanding contributions to the science of the electromagnetic spectrum, by the International Society of Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves. Zhang will receive a custom medal and a check for 2,000 pounds sterling at the 39th International Conference on Infrared, Millimeter and Terahertz Waves next September in Tucson.

    Paul Ballentine, deputy director of the Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences, was awarded the 2013 Leadership Award from the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster at its recent annual meeting for "working with fellow members and the community to promote the Rochester Region's Optics, Photonics and Imaging Industry." RRPC specifically mentioned his leadership role in securing the Rochester Regional Optics and Photonics Jobs Accelerator grant award last year, a multi-pronged effort to increase jobs in the region’s Optics and Photonics small- and medium-size enterprises. Well done, Paul.

    The Department of Computer Science made its presence felt last week in Zurich, Switzerland at the sold-out, record-setting UBICOMP 2013 -- the top conference in pervasive computing. M. Ehsan Hoque, who just joined the department as an assistant professor, was named one of five winners of best paper awards at the conference for his PhD dissertation work on "MACH: My Automated Conversation coacH." As noted earlier in this memo, a paper co-authored in 2003 by department chair Henry Kautz was recognized with Ubicomp's 10-year-impact award as the most cited paper from ten years ago.

     Congratulations to Henry as well for receiving a three-year, $482,000 grant from NSF to further develop his studies of online tweets as a way to identify, track and analyze disease outbreaks. Henry and his team have been making headlines ever since they demonstrated that they could predict which Twitter users would get the flu by “mining” the tweets of people reporting symptoms in the New York City area. They went on to show that tweets could also identify restaurants that are possible sources of food-borne illness. This grant will address remaining technical challenges in data collection and analysis. It also will provide for planning for clinic-based evaluations of subjects identified by their social media postings, and for outreach to medical professionals. This outreach will provide a forum for the exchange of computer science and medical expertise between researchers and students in the two fields.

     I'd like to extend a warm welcome to Yoav Medan, a visiting scientist at Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, who will be on campus through Sept. 25 as a faculty exchange visitor. Yoav is an expert on technology transfer, which is an especially timely topic here at the University of Rochester. He will meet with several Hajim School faculty members; give a free talk on entrepreneurship, technology commercialization and the role of higher education  at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Genesee Valley Club (contact Meghan Barnhardt to register); and will give a seminar at 8:30 a.m. on the 24th in Sloan Auditorium (Goergen Hall), sponsored by BME and the Rochester Center for Biomedical Ultrasound. Thanks to the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation for supporting Yoav's visit.

       Reminder: There's still time to register for the University of Rochester Big Data Forum 2013, starting at 8:30 a.m, Oct. 18, in the Hawkins-Carlson Room at Rush Rhees Library. This day-long event will be a great opportunity to hear renowned researchers in data science discuss the latest developments in machine learning, network science, cognitive science, and applications in the health, social, and physical sciences.

      As always, keep me updated and have a great week.


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean