CS welcomes eight outstanding faculty members

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science is happy to announce the appointment of eight outstanding faculty members to the largest academic computer science research centre in Canada. These eight innovative and award-winning researchers will help us continue celebrating research excellence, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.

For more information about career opportunities in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, please visit our Open Faculty Positions page.

Eric Blais

Algorithms and complexity

BMath, 2002 University of Waterloo 
MSc, 2006 McGill University,
PhD, 2012 Carnegie Mellon University 

Since completing his PhD, Blais has been the Simons postdoctoral fellow with the theory of computation group of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Blais’ research interests are in theoretical computer science, particularly in complexity theory. His work has included a focus on the complexity of boolean functions and on sublinear-time algorithms. He is interested in the interplay between computer science, combinatorics, and information theory (as an undergraduate at Waterloo he completed a minor in combinatorics and optimization). Dr. Blais will add significant strength to the algorithms and complexity group, complementing the research work currently taking place.

Lila Kari

Bioinformatics, algorithms and complexity

MSc, 1987 Bucharest University 
PhD, 1991, University of Turku 

Lila Kari is regarded as one of the world's experts in the area of biomolecular computation, that is using biological, chemical and other natural systems to perform computations. She won the Nevanlinna Prize for best mathematics PhD thesis in Finland, and has gone on to author more than 200 research papers. She is editor-in-chief for the journal Theoretical Computer Science, responsible for Part C - Natural Computing, and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Natural Computing and Journal of Universal Computer Science. She has additionally served as a member of the board of directors of the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences, the UK EPSRC Peer Review College , on the NSERC Grant Selection Committee on Computing and Information Systems and the NSERC Herzberg-Brockhouse-Polanyi Prize joint selection committee. At the University of Western Ontario she has received numerous awards, and was Canada Research Chair in Biocomputing. 

Lap Chi Lau

Algorithms and complexity

BSc, 2000 The Chinese University of Hong Kong 
MSc, 2003 PhD, 2006 University of Toronto

From 2007 to 2012 Lau was an assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and since 2013 has been an associate professor at the same university. Dr. Lau’s research interests are in theoretical computer science, particularly the design and analysis of algorithms and algorithmic graph theory. His work is very well known, appearing in the highest-quality journals and conferences related to theoretical computer science. Several of his results are considered to be important breakthroughs in the area. Dr. Lau will add significant strength to the algorithms and complexity group and his expertise will also benefit other research groups, such as symbolic computation.

Edith Law

Human-computer interaction

BSc, 2000 University of British Columbia
MSc, 2005 McGill University
PhD, 2012 Carnegie Mellon University

Since completing her PhD, she has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Research on Computation and Society at Harvard University. Dr. Law’s research interests are in human-computer interaction, human computation, and crowdsourcing. With her PhD supervisor, she literally wrote the book on human computation (Human Computation, Law and von Ahn, Morgan Claypool, 2011). She was the primary initiator of the series of workshops, now a separate conference, on human computation held in conjunction with the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence conference. Dr. Law’s work will strengthen the human-computer interaction group and also be valuable to the groups in artificial intelligence and health informatics.

Jimmy Lin, Cheriton Chair in Software Systems

Information retrieval

BSE, 2000; MEng, 2001; PhD, 2004, MIT

Jimmy Lin was, until recently, a Professor at the University of Maryland.  Dr. Lin’s work lies at the intersection of information retrieval and natural language processing, with a focus on large-scale distributed algorithms and infrastructure for data analytics. He is considered one of the world's experts on big data and has written a widely–used textbook on MapReduce algorithm design.  In graduate school, Lin has made important contributions to question answering: at Microsoft Research, he developed techniques that would later be incorporated into IBM's Watson, which bested human champions on the game show Jeopardy!  Lin combines an impressive academic record of over 200 peer-reviewed publications with substantial contributions to industry. From 2010-2012, he spent an extended sabbatical at Twitter, where he worked on infrastructure for data analytics and data science. A unique combination of academic and industrial experience guides Lin's research in building useful applications that solve real-world user problems while addressing fundamental challenges in computer and information science.

Éric Schost

Computer algebra and symbolic computation

BSc, 1994 ÉNS Cachan & Université Paris VII 
MSc, 1995; PhD, 2000 École Polytechnique

Éric Schost received his PhD in Computer Science at École Polytechnique (Paris) in 2000, following a BCS in 1994 from ÉNS Cachan and Université Paris VII and a DEA from École Polytechnique (Paris). He held his first faculty position at École Polytechnique from 2000-2006 when he moved to Western University to take up a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Computer Algebra (2007-2015). Dr. Schost has published more than 40 journal papers and 60 conference papers, and won a number of distinguished paper awards.  He is a world-leading researcher in the area of symbolic computation and computational algebra and was a winner of an Outstanding Young Computer Science Researcher prize from the Canadian Association of Computer Science in 2010. He won the Student Council Teaching Award at Western in 2007. 

Gregor Richards

Programming languages

BSc, 2008 Portland State University 
PhD, 2014 Purdue University

Gregor Richard’s research interests are in programming languages, particularly dynamic languages. His work has included extensive analysis of the way languages such as JavaScript are used in practice and how the use of those languages could be improved to create better, more maintainable code. Richards will strengthen the programming languages group and, more generally, the computer systems facet of the school, which has been one of its historic strengths.

Stephen Watt, Dean of Mathematics

Computer algebra and symbolic computation

BSc, University of New Brunswick 
MMath, PhD, University of Waterloo

Professor Watt's research interests lie primarily in the areas of computer algebra (e.g. algorithms and applications of gcd and factorization of various sorts of polynomials), programming languages and compilers (e.g. implementation of dependent types, compiler optimizaions for programming languages with templates or genenerics, garbage collection),  pen-based computing (e.g. pen-based collaboration, mathematical handwriting recognition) and mathematical knowledge management (e.g. mathematical web services and digital mathematical libraries).

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