Mark Crovella named BU’s Innovator of the Year


By Rich Barlow

Computer scientist Mark Crovella received BUs Innovator of the Year award last week from Gloria Walters, vice president and associate provost for research. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi
Computer scientist Mark Crovella received BU’s Innovator of the Year award last week from Gloria Walters, vice president and associate provost for research. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Mark Crovella’s work centers on networks, mostly computer networks, and they have been improved by his research. He studies their properties by using data mining and statistics (though Crovella also has studied social and biological networks).

Crovella, a professor and chairman of computer science in the College of Arts & Sciences, and affiliated professor of the Division of Systems Engineering in the College of Engineering, has just been named the University’s Innovator of the Year. The award recognizes faculty whose research produces inventions and innovations beneficial to humanity.

Among the products of his work, Crovella says, have been “methods of detecting unusual patterns in computer network traffic, including evidence of intrusions and malicious activity; improvements to the design of web servers and content delivery systems; and methods of measuring networks to uncover traffic bottlenecks, interconnection patterns, and geographic locations of networked systems.”

Crovella “is an entrepreneurial scientist whose inventions have been licensed to two start-up companies,” says Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer. “His accomplishments in the past year include 10 peer-reviewed papers published, five patent filings, and $30 million invested in BU spinoff Guavus,” a data analytics firm providing customers help with computer network operations, marketing, security, and other functions. Crovella is chief scientist at the San Mateo, California–based company, which was launched in 2006 by Anukool Lakhina (CAS’01, GRS’01, GRS’07), one of Crovella’s former students. The data analytics company currently has more than 500 employees.

“It’s incredibly satisfying to be able to translate discoveries made in the lab into actual products that people use to solve problems,” Crovella says. “But it would have been impossible without the smart, enterprising students and colleagues who have done the lion’s share of the work in getting these companies off the ground. I don’t believe I stand out among the many entrepreneurs and inventors that I see all around me at BU, and who are a huge source of inspiration for me.”

Google Scholar shows about 14,600 citations of Crovella’s work. He has written more than 200 papers and coauthored Internet Measurement: Infrastructure, Traffic, and Applications (Wiley).

He received his award last week at Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll, the University’s annual networking event for researchers, investors, and entrepreneurs. The award dates to 2010. Past winners are Theodore Moustakas and James Collins of the College of Engineering, Mark Grinstaff of ENG and CAS, and Avrum Spira of the School of Medicine.