Weekly Memo

Nov. 17, 2014

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

     Congratulations to two Computer Science faculty members, whose innovative ideas have resulted in outside funding. Ehsan Hoque, who joined the department last year, has received a Google Faculty Research Award -- one of 110 funded projects out of 722 submitted proposals. This year Google introduced a new area called online education at scale, which covers topics such as data-driven adaptive learning, and innovative assessment methods. Ehsan's proposed project -- developing an automated web browser based platform that allows users to practice public speaking skills and receive automated feedback -- was rewarded under this new category. Google's one-year faculty research awards are structured as unrestricted gifts to universities to support the work of world-class full-time faculty members at top universities around the world.

    Philip Guo, who joined the faculty this year, has received a $61,308 grant from Microsoft Research to integrate his Online Python Tutor tool for teaching computer programming into Microsoft's new online education platform. Philip's Online Python Tutor tool has already been used by over 500,000 people in over 165 countries, and this Microsoft partnership will help grow its usage numbers even more and enable further research into scalable online learning.

    Francis Hinson '16 of Computer Science is spending this year in Silicon Valley, working on the start-up Chesscademy, which he helped found. The website is devoted to teaching anyone, from absolute beginners to seasoned players, the finer points of chess. You can read about his project in the current issue of Rochester Review, which also reports on the field hockey scoring record set by Michelle Relin '16 of Optics and the Goergen Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching received by Julie Bentley, Associate Professor of Optics, and two other UR faculty members.  Michelle, by the way, has been selected to the All-Liberty League first team; Sayaka Abe '17 of Chemical Engineering, another UR field hockey player, was honorable mention.

    Here's some news about recent Hajim School graduates:

    Himanshu Shekhar
, who finished his Ph.D. in Electrical & Computer Engineering here earlier this year, has been awarded the very prestigious Frederick V. Hunt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Acoustics from the Acoustical Society of America for 2015-2016. Himanshu completed his doctoral work in Prof. Marvin Doyley’s group, working on high frequency ultrasound imaging. The Hunt Fellowship was established by the Acoustical Society of America to honor the legacy of the late Prof. Frederick Vinton Hunt of Harvard University. Himanshu received one of two Hunt fellowships which were awarded this year for his proposal titled “Ultrasound-enhanced drug delivery for treating vascular disease.” He will complete this research in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati, working with Prof. Christy Holland.

    Frank He and George Shebert, who graduated from the Chemical Engineering undergraduate program this year, recently had a paper accepted for publication in the journal Computers and Chemical Engineering. The paper is titled "An Algorithm for Optimal Waste Heat Recovery from Chemical Processes" and was based upon their senior design project supervised by Professor Eldred Chimowitz. Both students are now pursuing Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering, Frank at MIT and George at Cornell University.
    A free, NSF-funded webinar for engineering faculty -- "Thriving vs Surviving: A Four-Frame Model for Creating Inclusive Learning Environments" -- will be offered noon to 1 p.m. this Thursday. Beth Holloway, Director of the Women in Engineering Program (WIEP) and the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education in the College of Engineering at Purdue University, will present this model, which was developed at the Simmons School of Management.  The webinar examines practices that a) equip the individual student; b) reduce barriers to student engagement; c) recognize and value the diversity that students bring to each course; and d) create the foundation for an ongoing, iterative approach that crafts an inclusive, equitable context for all students (and faculty). Specific examples geared towards the engineering environment will be used. You can log on to this webinar from your own office here; or you can join a viewing party at CETL (Dewey 1-154 - venue may change). This dovetails nicely with many of our major goals at the Hajim School, including increased enrollment and retention of female and under-represented minority students.  For more information, contact Jenny Hadingham.

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


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean