Computer science department welcomes new faculty members

By Andrea Poet

This fall, over 1,600 undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. students will be studying computer science at UIC. The department has grown significantly— almost five times as many students are enrolled today as compared with a decade ago — and is the largest in the college of engineering.

To keep pace with the growth, new faculty members will be joining the computer science department this year, bringing the total number of computer science faculty to 56.

Adding depth to the department’s research and teaching expertise was critical for Robert Sloan, professor and department head for computer science.

“We’re delighted to have been able to hire seven new faculty members of such high quality in the current very competitive market for computer science faculty. One of the many great things about this group is that it includes two excellent researchers in computer vision, the one subfield we were missing in our outstanding data science, AI, and machine learning group,” Sloan said.

Here are the new UIC computer science faculty members:

Assistant Professor Abolfazl (Abol) Asudeh comes to UIC from a postdoc at the University of Michigan. He completed his Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Texas at Arlington. To face the challenges of Big Data, Asudeh aims to find efficient, effective and scalable algorithmic solutions for data science problems. This includes designing approximation and randomized algorithms, as well as applying techniques from domains such as computational geometry. He views responsibility, including fairness, stability, diversity, transparency and equity, as an important dimension in the development of data-driven technologies. Absudeh will teach CS 401.

Visiting Lecturer Sean Deitz earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from UIC, and has served as an adjunct lecturer at UIC since 2018. His interests lay between data visualization and software engineering, using visualization techniques to aid in the process of software engineering generally and programming specifically. Dietz prowls academic papersand industry reviews for modern advances and examples to keep his course contents fresh to keep up with the moving target of modern programming, and looks forward to training the next generation of computer scientists with the skills they’ll need to succeed. He will teach CS 341 and CS 480.

Joseph E. Michaelis joins UIC as an assistant professor. He conducts research at the nexus of learning sciences and human-computer interaction disciplines. His current work focuses on designing learning companion robots to make long-term social connections with children that support learning and interest in STEM in ways that seamlessly integrate into existing educational activities in classrooms, informal learning environments, and at home. Michaelis received a Ph.D. in learning sciences with a Ph.D. minor in computer science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and a MS in science education leadership from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Michaelis will teach CS 422.

Luís Pina will join the CS department as an assistant professor. Pina held a postdoctoral appointment at George Mason University’s Department of Computer Science. Previously, Pina was part of the Software Reliability Group at Imperial College London, the Programming Languages Group at University of Maryland, and the Software Engineering Group at INESC-ID in Lisbon. Pena holds a Ph.D. in information systems and computer engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal. His dissertation focused on making Dynamic Software Updates (DSU) practical. He will be teaching CS 474.

Assistant Professor Sathya Ravi has a strong background in optimization algorithms that propel various computer vision and machine learning systems. He is interested in designing algorithms that can satisfy application-specific constraints and regularization, since these are often crucial and beneficial to overall performance. Ravi believes that understanding the mathematical underpinnings of data analysis techniques is a key component to achieve that goal. Multidisciplinary research is one of his favorite things, since it allows researchers to tackle challenging questions that have orders of magnitude more impact on society. Ravi has his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Wei Tang, assistant professor, comes to UIC from the Computational Vision Lab at Northwestern, where he served as a research assistant. He was also a research intern at Microsoft. His research interests include computer vision, digital image/video processing, statistical learning, human motion and action analysis, and human-computer intelligent interaction. Tang received his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from Northwestern University, where he received the Best Dissertation Award and the Murphy Fellowship in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He received his M.E. and B.E. degrees both from Beihang University, Beijing. Tang will be teaching CS 415.

In the spring, Clinical Assistant Professor Diana Diaz will join the department. Diaz brings research experience in a variety of fields including software engineering, bioinformatics, health informatics, and applied deep learning. Her current research interests include studying methods to improve student comprehension of computer science courses. Diaz received both her Ph.D. and MS from Wayne State University, where she is currently teaching. She has worked as a freelance software developer, a research assistant at the Universidad de los Andes, and a full-time lecturer at the Universidad Piloto de Colombia.

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