Carnegie Mellon University

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July 10, 2014

Personal Mention

Business Insider has named Raj Reddy, the Moza Bint Nasser University Professor of Computer Science and Robotics, and Reid Simmons, a research professor in the Robotics Institute, among the 15 most important people working in robotics today. Business Insider cites Reddy, co-founder and first director of CMU's Robotics Institute, for winning the Turing Award for his work in artificial intelligence and the NSF's Vannevar Bush Award for his contributions to robotics and technology. The publication cites Simmons for helping to build navigation software for NASA and for his work in building "social robots", such as Tank the "roboceptionist," and Victor, the trash-talking Scrabble-playing robot. See more from Business Insider.

After 22 years of service in the Environmental Health & Safety Department, Jim Gindlesperger has announced his plans to retire at the end of August. A loss prevention manager for EH&S, Gindlesperger has implemented many new programs and initiatives during his tenure that have made Carnegie Mellon a safer place for the campus community. He earned an Andy Award for authoring a comprehensive Emergency Response Plan and his risk prevention efforts have resulted in a significant reduction of accidents and injuries on campus. Gindlesperger is a gifted trainer who made learning about safety informative and fun. An accomplished writer who has written six books on the Civil War, Gindlesperger plans to continue writing during his retirement. "Jim has been a most valuable member of our department and university," said Madelyn Miller, director of EH&S. "In everything he does, Jim has the safety and best interest of the CMU community at heart. He has helped to advance health and safety at CMU immeasurably. We are a safer campus today largely because of Jim's loyalty and dedication to his work."

As a recipient of a 2014 Yahoo Faculty Research and Engagement Program (FREP) Award, Computer Science Professor Christos Faloutsos will lead an effort to spot fraudsters who buy followers, pay others to post content and otherwise manipulate trending topics and user popularity on the Tumblr microblogging site. FREP supports Internet research studies and experiments between academics and their counterparts at Yahoo. In their FREP project, Faloutsos and Alex Beutel, a Ph.D. student in the Computer Science Department, will collaborate with Alejandro Jaimes, director of research at Yahoo, who leads teams in Barcelona, Bangalore and New York City. Faloutsos said the team hopes to show that it can spot fraudster behavior using a set of algorithms developed by Beutel. These algorithms are excellent in spotting lock-step behavior of the kind exhibited by Tumblr fraudsters, who usually have lots of fake accounts that all like the same posts, follow the same customers and use similar IP addresses, often within the same day. Learn more.

Mechanical Engineering Professor Philip LeDuc has been selected a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for his excellence in research, education and service. LeDuc's research focuses on the possibilities of merging mechanical engineering and biology. He attempts to look at biological processes through a mechanical lens, thereby changing the way we tackle biological issues such as nutrition, bioenergy and disease. "The same way Ford would take his pieces and put together the Model T, I'm interested in how I can take pieces and put together an artificial cell that actually has functional behaviors," LeDuc said. LeDuc also is a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. He also has received many other prestigious awards, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Award and a Beckman Young Investigator Award.

For the federal BRAIN Initiative to be successful, statistical research must play a role, according to a white paper from the American Statistical Association (ASA), written by a working group chaired by Carnegie Mellon's Rob Kass. In response to calls from the National Science Foundation and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the ASA asked Kass, professor of statistics and machine learning and a member of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), to lead the working group in detailing the ways statisticians can contribute to this important new federal initiative. The BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) aims to produce a sophisticated understanding of the link between brain and behavior and to uncover new ways to treat, prevent and cure brain disorders. Kass and the committee contend that meeting those complex challenges will require "scientific and technological paradigms that incorporate novel statistical methods for data acquisition and analysis." Kass is a leading expert on using statistics in neuroscience. Learn more.

Tim Haggerty wrote an article for the film journal "Bright Lights" exploring how HIV and AIDS have been portrayed in movies and across different races and demographics. Haggerty is the director of the Dietrich College's Humanities Scholars Program and a leading expert on cultural roles for men and policy issues concerning sexuality. Read "The American Epidemic: AIDS in (Recent) Cinema and History."

Shupeng Sun, a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering, has received the newly established Best Poster Award at the ACM SIGDA Ph.D. Forum at the Design Automation Conference. The poster focused on Sun's radically new statistical analysis methodology that will allow companies to produce better circuits in electronic devices. "The work has the potential to influence the analysis and design of today's nanoscale circuits that are critical to improve numerous commercial systems," said Jelena Kovacevic, the David Edward Schramm Professor and head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. All electronics are made up of thousands or even millions of circuit blocks, each of which can contain thousands of transistors — and if one of these blocks fail, the electronic device will not function properly. As electronics become more complicated, more circuit blocks are needed, increasing the chance for failure. Sun developed an algorithm that calculates the failure rate and accounts for variability and uncertainties in the manufacturing process, allowing companies and researchers to run significantly fewer simulations. Learn more.

Bernhard Haeupler, who will join the Computer Science Department this summer as an assistant professor, received the 2014 Doctoral Dissertation Award in Distributed Computing. His thesis, "Probabilistic Methods for Distributed Information Dissemination," is a sweeping multidisciplinary study of information dissemination in a network that makes fundamental contributions to distributed computing and its connections to theoretical computer science and information theory. Haeupler received his Ph.D. in computer science at MIT, where his dissertation won the George Sprouls Award for best computer science Ph.D. thesis. He subsequently worked as a post-doc at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley. The award is sponsored jointly by the ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing and the EATCS Symposium on Distributed Computing (DISC). He will receive the award this October at the DISC in Austin, Texas.

Andy Pavlo, assistant professor of computer science, is the recipient of the 2014 SIGMOD Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation Award, which recognizes the best dissertation in the field of databases for the previous year. Pavlo earned his Ph.D. in computer science last year at Brown University. His thesis, "On Scalable Transaction Execution in Partitioned Main Memory Database Management Systems," was based on H-Store, an experimental, distributed main memory database management system.  H-Store was the first of a new class of database systems, known as NewSQL, that support highly-concurrent workloads without giving up the transactional guarantees of traditional, relational systems. The system was later commercialized as VoltDB in 2009. The award was presented June 26 at the ACM Special Interest Group on the Management of Data Conference in Snowbird, Utah. He shared the prize with Aditya Parameswaran of Stanford University.

Abhinav Shrivastava, a Ph.D. student in robotics, is one of a dozen computer science, electrical engineering and mathematics students who are 2014 recipients of the Microsoft Research Ph.D. Fellowship.  Shrivastava’s research interest is computer vision. He is developing visual learning algorithms that can leverage existing databases of labeled images, vast numbers of unlabeled images from the Internet and the implicit structure of the world — cars are generally found on roads, the sky is above the ground, buildings are upright — to improve computer vision systems at large scales. He is part of the project team for the Never Ending Image Learner (NEIL), a computer program that constantly searches the Web for images and attempts to identify objects and characterize scenes on its own. The two-year fellowship covers tuition and fees and includes a travel allowance, the offer of a paid internship and an annual stipend.

Carl Doersch, a Ph.D. student in the Machine Learning Department, is the recipient of a 2014 Google Ph.D. Fellowship. The Google Ph.D. Fellowship program supports Ph.D. students in computer science or closely related fields and reflects Google’s commitment to building strong relations with the global academic community. Now in its sixth year, the program covers North America, Europe, China, India and Australia. The two-year fellowship includes tuition and fees and a yearly stipend. Doersch will use the Google Fellowship to support his research in applying data mining techniques to images, which will help us better understand and organize the petabytes of visual data on the Web.  

Abhinav Gupta, assistant research professor in the Robotics Institute, is the recipient of a Bosch Young Faculty Fellowship to support his research on computer vision and large-scale visual learning. The fellowship, which includes a $45,000 gift for the first year, is renewable for up to three years. Gupta, who came to the Robotics Institute in 2009 as a post-doctoral researcher and joined the faculty in 2011, leads the Never Ending Image Learner (NEIL) project. The computer program constantly searches the Web for images, doing its best to identify objects and characterize scenes on its own. As NEIL builds a massive visual database, it also gains common sense as it makes associations between the information it gleans from the images. CNN named NEIL one of the Top 10 Ideas of 2013.  Gupta earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering in 2004 at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and a Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Maryland in 2009.

Drew Bagnell, associate professor of robotics, is among the latest recipients of the Okawa Research Grant, which is awarded by the Okawa Foundation for Information and Telecommunications. The grants sponsor research in the United States, China, Japan and Korea in eight topic areas pertaining to information and telecommunications. Bagnell’s grant will help fund his work in machine learning for intelligent robotics. CMU recipients in recent years have included Siddhartha Srinivasa, associate professor of robotics; Seyoung Kim, assistant professor in the Lane Center for Computational Biology; and Adrien Treuille, assistant professor of robotics and computer science.

Obituary: Myron Lawrence Joseph

Myron Lawrence Joseph, a former professor, assistant dean and department chair at the Tepper School of Business — then the Graduate School of Industrial Administration — for more than 40 years, died on June 23 at his home in La Jolla, Calif. He was 92. 

An expert in industrial relations, Joseph joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 1948 and gained full professor status in 1964. He later became a senior staff economist on the Council of Economic Advisers under U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1980 he was tapped to serve as Secretary of Labor and Industry for the state of Pennsylvania under Governor Richard Thornburgh. He retired from the university in the mid-1990s.

Obituary: Gary Carlough

Award-winning local architect Gary Carlough, an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon for 20 years, died on June 29. He was 62. “He was greatly respected and much liked by studio faculty,” Stephen Lee, head of the School of Architecture, told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. “He put in far more hours in studio than required and had the respect of teachers and students alike.”

Carlough's projects included the Gateway Center T Station, the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and the Carnegie libraries in Pittsburgh's Oakland and East Liberty neighborhoods. Read more in the Tribune Review and Pittsburgh Business Times.