CS Faculty Earn 2022 Distinctions Awarded by Research Associations, the University System, and Tech Media

6/10/2022 Aaron Seidlitz, Illinois CS

Professors Bo Li, Derek Hoiem, Lawrence Angrave, Lingming Zhang, Jiawei Han, and Daniel S. Katz all earned recognition within the university system and from external sources.

Written by Aaron Seidlitz, Illinois CS

Working at the research intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and security, Illinois CS professor Bo Li said there was a special significance to learning earlier this month that she won the Computers and Thought Award from the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence.

Bo Li
Bo Li

That significance came from reading the list of past winners, which accounts for 32 past winners since 1971.

“I feel quite honored to be a part of this list, because all the previous winners are names that I have respected for so long,” Li said. “So, I feel quite honored and happy to be a part of this group.”

Beyond the honor of this particular recognition, though, Li foresees a practical purpose, too.

She will be in Vienna toward the end of July to present recent research at the conference. In front of this group of peers, Li believes the conference to be another excellent opportunity to explain the significance of her work and to help its relevance in the AI and Security community.

Specifically, her current research focuses on making “machine learning algorithms more robust, private, efficient, and interpretable with guarantees.” Through her Secure Learning Lab, Li works with students to explore different adversarial attacks and defenses to benefit the application of machine learning techniques through computer vision, natural language processing, audio recognition, autonomous vehicles, and medical healthcare.

“If we cannot evaluate or improve safety and robustness, that will lead to severe consequences eventually,” Li said. “Therefore, I remain really interested in first trying to attack these systems to see what happens. Then we try to improve the robustness within primary applications like autonomous driving and medical healthcare – to really help those safety critical areas.”

She pointed to primary inspirations for this line of work as her students and faculty mentors.

“All of the Illinois CS students I’ve worked alongside are awesome and truly motivated. We work on questions and problems that they find exciting possible solutions for. Often, they will ask me to try something I haven’t even thought of before, so I think this is an environment that encourages growth in the field,” Li said. “Additionally, I’m thrilled to work with people like David Forsyth and Carl Gunter, who have opened my world up to collaborations with entities like Amazon, IBM, Meta, Microsoft, and Nvidia.”

Derek Hoiem a new University Scholar

Derek Hoiem
Derek Hoiem

Earlier this spring, professor Derek Hoiem learned he’d become a part of the University Scholar Program, and he couldn’t help but think of his career arc thus far.

The University Scholars Program was created to honor and reward outstanding faculty members at the University of Illinois System and includes a $15,000 gift for the winners over the next three years.

Hoiem felt honored to think upon the meaning of this recognition in relation to mentoring the “clever and passionate students” at Illinois CS, specifically through a primary research goal to “model the physical and semantic structure of the world, so computers can better understand scenes from images.”

While he looks forward to utilizing the gift associated with this honor, Hoiem also couldn’t help but think back on the role this university has had in his academic career – which began as a postdoctoral fellow with the Beckman Institute after earning his PhD in Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University.

“My entire professional career has been developed at the University of Illinois, since I joined the Beckman Institute as a 27 year-old with a freshly minted PhD,” Hoiem said. “Even so, nothing is routine – the field has grown tremendously, as has the department – and the flexibility and support of the university has allowed me to explore all kinds of things; from being an expert witness to visiting Microsoft Cambridge to work on the new Kinect device to co-founding Reconstruct and seeing it flourish and expand.

“Personally, I originally came here to be with my wife, now of 20 years, and we are raising two daughters. My mother has joined us as well, so Urbana-Champaign and the university has shaped my family and life experience.”

Lawrence Angrave honored as the Karen Wold Level the Learning Field Award winner

Lawrence Angrave
Lawrence Angrave

After having been nominated in 2020, Illinois CS professor Lawrence Angrave learned of winning the Karen Wold Level the Learning Field Award this past April – after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a pause in the selection of this award.

Presented by the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, this award was created in memory of Karen Wold. She was an access specialist at DRES who spent her career fully engaged with students and their faculty members to find solutions to academic challenges so that the learning field would be more level and accessible.

The purpose of the award is to identify exemplary members of the Illinois faculty and staff for advocating and/or implementing instructional strategies, technologies, and disability-related accommodations that afford students with disabilities equal access to academic resources and curricula.

Angrave’s nomination came in support of his dedication to using captioning and transcripts as a way to  classrooms more accessible. His work with tools like ClassTranscribe continues to meet student needs regarding accessibility.

ClassTranscribe has made multiple classes more accessible and it continue to grow; it's been used by over 7,000 students in classes in CS, BIOE, ECE, STATS and other departments across campus.

Angrave enjoys collaborating with others on advancing accessibility at U of I.

He is working with the U of I system to ensure that the board of trustee and committee meetings are accessible through live audio descriptions. In collaboration with physics student Colin Lualdi, a third accessibility project, ScribeAR, creates live captions using lightweight augmented reality glasses.

Using the transcript and scene detection algorithm Angrave is working with CS professor Hongye Liu and others so that ClassTranscribe can help create equivalent textbooks directly from video materials. They are excited to use this in Grainger College of Engineering classes in Fall 2022.

In addition to roles as teaching professor, Gies RC Evans Innovation Fellow and CITL Fellow, Angrave also has pursued a research interest in Computers and Education. Within that area, he has focused on research with automatic speech recognition.

Jiawei Han recognized by CDO Magazine as an Academic Data Leader

Jiawei Han
Jiawei Han

In January, CDO Magazine released a 2022 list of Academic Data Leaders, which included Illinois CS professor Jiawei Han.

Through his illustrious career, Han has remained dedicated to research in data mining, text mining, information networks, data science, machine learning, AI, and their broad applications.  This has come through his Data Mining Research Group and work with the Data and Information Systems Research Laboratory. His devotion continues through a fascination with the field’s problems that create “potential high impact to computer science, industry, and the society.”

“In recent years, my group has been focusing on text mining and text-rich information mining, with many new research problems posed and solved,” Han said. “We are still making good progress with 30-40 research papers generated each year.  We are excited on our progress along with the great progress made for the whole community in the past years.”

This recognition through CDO Magazine, gave Han a moment of pause, because of the other academicians listed.

“I think it is nice to see the recognition by the community, especially when I noticed many well-known names listed together in the academic data community,” Han said. “For example, Professor Aditya Parameswaran, who was in the same DAIS group with me in the CS department and now a UC-Berkeley professor, is also on the list. 

“It makes me feel good to have many known peers on the same list.”

NCSA’s Daniel Katz named IEEE Computer Society Distinguished Contributor

Illinois CS research professor Daniel S. Katz
Daniel S. Katz

In March, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications announced that Chief Scientist Daniel S. Katz was named one of the 66 inaugural IEEE Computer Society Distinguished Contributors in honor of his contributions to the society and the profession.

The IEEE Computer Society launched this new program to recognize its members with the most technical accomplishments and to showcase the immense combined technical expertise and innovation power of its membership.

In addition to his role at NCSA, Katz is a research associate professor in the departments of Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and School of Information Sciences as well as a faculty affiliate in Computational Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He’s the author of several hundred peer-reviewed publications in addition to magazine articles and technical reports. He is a senior member of the IEEE and ACM, currently serving on the IEEE Board of Governors, and is a founding editor and current Associate Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Open Source Software. He also co-founded the US Research Software Engineer Association (US-RSE) and the Research Software Alliance (ReSA).

Read the complete IEEE-CS announcement.

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This story was published June 10, 2022.