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July 27, 2017

Personal Mention

Kathryn Roeder, Ruslan "Russ" Salakhutdinov and Larry Wasserman have received endowed professorships from UPMC to fund work in statistics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics to help shape the future of health care. The financial support continues nearly three decades of UPMC’s investment in CMU, which includes the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance, a collaboration between CMU and the University of Pittsburgh that uses data to improve health outcomes and hopes to transform the practice of medicine.

Kathryn RoederRoeder, the UPMC Professor of Statistics and Life Sciences and CMU’s vice provost for faculty, has played a pivotal role in developing the foundations of DNA forensic inference. Her current research focuses on statistical genomics and the genetic base of complex disease, with an emphasis on autism. Recent discoveries by Roeder include developing new statistical tools that identified 65 genes associated with risk for autism spectrum disorder; providing clues about the genetic makeup of the disorder; and determining that although rare mutations can have a big impact on genetic risk for autism, most risk stems from common inherited genetic variants.

Ruslan SalakhutdinovSalakhutdinov, the UPMC Professor of Computer Science, is a leading researcher in deep learning, a branch of machine learning that is transforming artificial intelligence. By mimicking processes used by the brain’s cortex, deep learning has helped computers dramatically improve their ability to understand human speech and language, to identify objects and actions in images and to discover substances that hold promise as pharmaceuticals.

Larry WassermanWasserman, the UPMC Professor of Statistics and Data Sciences in the Dietrich College, researches both theoretical and applied statistics. On the theoretical side, he focuses on the intersection of statistics and machine learning, which is becoming increasingly important in the era of big data as both deal with analyzing data for high-dimensional problems. His work has provided new methods and theory for simultaneously estimating the relationships between large numbers of variables and for finding subtle spatial structure in complex datasets.

Lauren HerckisRichard ScheinesDietrich College Dean Richard Scheines and Simon Initiative Research Scientist Lauren Herckis’ Global Learning Council presentation on "Walking the Talk – Overcoming Barriers to Implementation of Best Practices in TEL for Higher Education" has been making headlines since the late June event. Times Higher Education published "Academics 'Fail to Change Teaching Due to Fear of Looking Stupid,'" which was then picked up by Inside Higher Education, e-Literate and many other blogs and outlets and sparked an intense conversation about why professors do not use TEL tools. To respond to the article, Scheines, Herckis and Joel Smith, distinguished career teaching professor of philosophy, wrote an opinion piece for Times Higher Education, "Failure to Embrace New Teaching Techniques Not Just About Fear of Embarrassment.” 

Joe HezirJoseph S. Hezir, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) former chief financial officer, will join Carnegie Mellon University’s Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation as professor of the practice on Aug. 1. Hezir, who earned degrees in chemical engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon, will assist the Scott Institute’s leadership team in strategic planning, including developing objectives, strategies and implementation plans. “Joe has a highly successful track record working in government, academia and the private sector,” said Scott Institute Director Jay Whitacre. “His expertise will help position the Scott Institute in a leadership role in areas of high-impact innovation and further foster the Institute’s growth and prominence.” Hezir also will guest lecture throughout campus and assist in developing new policy oriented publications that will enhance the understanding of policymakers and other stakeholders to the value of research and analysis developed at his alma mater. Find out more.

David FowlerObituary: David Fowler

David Fowler, professor of history, emeritus, died July 5 at the age of 92. Before his retirement from CMU in 1996, Fowler taught courses relating to minorities in American history, the American presidency, the development of American society, business history and advertising and the American Constitution. A private ceremony will be held in Pittsburgh, and he will be laid to rest next to his wife, the late CMU English Professor Lois Josephs Fowler. Read his full obituary.