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May 06, 2014

New Department Heads

Danks To Lead Philosophy

DanksDavid Danks has been 
selected to 
head Carnegie 
Mellon’s Department of Philosophy, effective July 1.

Danks, associate professor of philosophy and psychology, succeeds Richard Scheines, who is stepping down to become dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“David Danks is an outstanding researcher and instructor, whose work at the intersection of philosophy and psychology is unrivaled and novel,” 
said John Lehoczky, dean of the Dietrich College. “Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Philosophy is unlike any program of its kind in the U.S. because of its emphasis on research that directly impacts the real world in areas such as computer science, math, statistics, psychology, bioethics and human rights. The department further established its unique focus and strengthened its international reputation under Richard Scheines’ tenure, and I am certain that David will work to ensure that philosophy will be a premier department for many years to come.”

Danks has been on the CMU faculty since 2003. The majority of his research involves computational cognitive science and focuses on the nature of cognitive representations and the role that goals and challenges play in learning and reasoning.

In 2008, Danks received a coveted James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award to pursue his work on integrated causal cognition, concepts and decision making. He began by working to develop a framework for understanding exactly what happens in these types of cognition. His findings will be released in a forthcoming book, “Unifying the Mind: Cognitive Representations as Graphical Models,” that MIT Press will publish later this year.

Another area of Danks’ research centers on learning causal structure from time series data, such as the data gathered in neuroimaging research. Last fall, he received a three-year NSF grant to expand the study with Sergey Plis from the Mind Research Network at the University of New Mexico.

Genovese Promoted in Statistics

Mellon has 
Christopher R. Genovese to head its Department of Statistics, a global leader in applying statistics to many areas of science, technology, policy and education, effective July 1. Genovese, professor of statistics, succeeds Mark Schervish, who has served as department head for the past 10 years.

“The Department of Statistics is central to several of Carnegie Mellon’s major strategic initiatives — which also reflect many of the central problems facing the world today, such as data science, brain science, learning science, cybersecurity and privacy, computational biology, genetics and cosmology,” said John Lehoczky, dean of the Dietrich College. “Chris Genovese is a truly brilliant applied and theoretical statistician who is ideally suited to lead the department at a time when statistical science is rapidly evolving to meet the challenging demands of ‘big data’ and a wide 
array of scientific problems. Under 
his leadership, I am confident that the department will continue its international prominence.”

Genovese joined Carnegie Mellon 
in 1994. His research focuses on solving 
complex and high-dimensional problems in the sciences. His work has produced new methods and results in neuroscience, evolutionary biology, learning science and cosmology/astrophysics.

Genovese is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He has been awarded funding from numerous agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA and the Department of Energy. He is a recipient of a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and a Shannon Award from the National Institutes of Health.

Genovese also has been active as an educator, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels. He has created several new courses and has consistently innovated in instructional design.
By: Shilo Rea,