Professor Jiawei Han Named Aiken Endowed Chair


Han is the second-ever Aiken Chair, a position he plans to use to maintain Illinois' leadership in data-mining research.

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Illinois Computer Science Professor Jiawei Han has been named a Michael Aiken Chair, one of the most distinguished honors on campus.

Han was selected for an endowed chair along with new Swanlund Chairs Matthew Finkin, a professor of law, and Nancy Sottos, a professor of materials science and engineering.  The investiture cermony for all three faculty will take place at 3 pm on October 3, 2019, in the auditorium of the Spurlock Museum, 600 South Gregory Street, Urbana.

Jiawei Han, an Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering, is a leader of and pioneer in the field of data-mining research.
Jiawei Han, an Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering, is a leader of and pioneer in the field of data-mining research.
Chancellor Robert Jones selected the recipients, who were named Thursday, on the recommendation of a committee headed by Provost Andreas Cangellaris. The endowed chairs take effect Aug. 16, extend for five years and are renewable. They provide a salary stipend and financial support for each recipient’s research.

“These extraordinary scholars are the greatest authorities in their fields, and they continue to pioneer their research and scholarship in new directions for the greater good of our society,” Cangellaris said. “They personify Illinois’ leadership and impact as one of the world’s best public research universities.”

Han, an Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering, is a leader of and pioneer in data-mining research. He said he is deeply honored by the chair, which he said he hopes to use to advance the university’s place as a leader in his field.

“Data science and data mining will be a very important component in the future for society,” Han said. “We can be one of the strongholds in the world to do this research. We’re doing very well now, but we want to make sure we take the lead.”

Han’s research interests include text mining, information network analysis, and big data analytics. He has more than 900 publications.

He has made a number of important contributions to data mining, among them the development of a set of scalable frequent-pattern mining algorithms, including FPgrowth and PrefixSpan. Both are taught in most data-mining textbooks and included in most data-mining software packages.

Han also developed a set of network mining methods that are widely referenced, and a set of influential methods for mining structures from massive unstructured texts.

Colleagues have frequently recognized his contributions to the field. He is a Fellow of both the ACM and IEEE, and received the 2004 ACM SIGKDD Innovations Award and the 2009 IEEE Computer Society M. Wallace McDowell Award. In 2018, he became the fourth non-Japanese scientist to earn the Funai Achievement Award, Japan’s highest honor for information science.

Finkin, the Albert J. Harno and Edward W. Cleary Chair in Law, teaches labor and employment law in both the domestic and comparative contexts. His awards include the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Research Prize and designation by the University of Illinois as a Center for Advanced Study Professor. He has lectured widely in Europe, Asia and South America. His work has been translated into seven languages.

Sottos is the Donald B. Willet Professor of Engineering in the department of materials science and engineering and leads the Autonomous Materials Systems group in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.  Her research interests include polymers and composites capable of self-healing and regeneration, mechanochemically active polymers, tailored interfaces and novel materials for more reliable energy storage. She is a Fellow of the Society of Engineering Science and the Society for Experimental Mechanics.

The Michael Aiken Chair was established in honor of former Chancellor Michael Aiken and is supported by a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Campbell and other sources. Aiken was chancellor from 1993 through 2001, a period in which the number of endowed academic chairs on campus rose from 32 to 192.

Han joins Professor of Art and Design Donna Cox as an Aiken Chair. She was named the first Aiken Chair in 2008.

The Swanlund chairs were established through a gift from longtime University of Illinois supporter Maybelle Swanlund.


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This story was published February 7, 2019.