Hariri Institute Announces 2011 Junior Faculty Fellows

The Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering at Boston University is pleased to announce its inaugural set of Junior Faculty Fellows. They are:

  • Jonathan Appavoo, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
  • Ayse Coskun, Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Mark Kramer, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics & Statistics
  • Ben Lubin, Assistant Professor, School of Management
  • Jason Ritt, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Evimaria Terzi, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science

The Junior Faculty Fellows program recognizes outstanding BU junior faculty pursuing computational research in a range of disciplines. According to Professor Azer Bestavros, Founding Director of the Hariri Institute, “This exceptional cohort of Hariri Junior Fellows epitomizes the qualities that the Institute is striving to cultivate and nurture at Boston University, especially as it relates to the integrative nature of their computing and computational research, which is unhindered by ossified disciplinary boundaries.” Commenting on the breadth and complementary nature of their research, he added “The research programs pursued by the junior fellows are quite diverse, yet in many ways they are related and complementary. For example, Professors Lubin, Terzi, and Kramer are all working with techniques to analyze large data sets, whereas Professors Coskun and Appavoo share an interest in power-efficient, large-scale distributed computing, in support of demanding HPC applications such as those pursued by Ritt.”

Meeting the Fellows

Over the next several months, each of the Junior Faculty Fellows will be giving a Hariri Institute Distinguished Lecture. For more information and to receive notices about this and other Hariri Institute activities, please join the Institute mailing lists by becoming an affiliate member. For more information, please visit the Institute’s web site.

About the Fellows

Jonathan AppavooProfessor Jonathan Appavoo joined the Department of Computer Science in 2009. After receiving his Ph.D. at University of Toronto, he worked at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Laboratory. His current research work focuses in two major areas: architectures for scalable, elastic systems that enable large-scale on-demand computing, and computer systems that can combine traditional computing with the kinds of statistical inference capabilities used by the human brain.

Prof. Stan Sclaroff, chair of the Department of Computer Science, says, “Jonathan is leading the pack in the new generation of high-performance computing researchers. If he and his collaborators are successful, then supercomputer-level services will be as accessible, flexible, and affordable as today’s consumer cloud computing services. Jonathan’s research has important implications for business, healthcare, scientific computing—even games. Jonathan’s work also has important implications for the ‘greening’ of cloud computing.”

Professor Appavoo has already been working with his research group at the Institute offices. He says, “It is very exciting to be selected as one of the inaugural Junior Fellows. The Institute, its goals, mandate, and collaborative approach are exactly what I joined academia for.  Even physically the Institute has exceeded my expectations. Operating systems research is an interactive and collaborative process and my group has really flourished working in the institute.”

Ayse CoskunProfessor Ayse Coskun joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego in 2009. Her current research focuses on energy efficiency and thermal challenges in computer systems. Some of her main projects include software optimization for green computing, thermal modeling and management of 3D stack architectures (including systems with liquid cooling), and design and runtime management of many-core systems. Such research is critical to enabling the continued growth of energy-efficient computational power.

Asked about the importance of the Hariri Institute to advancing research in computational science, Prof. Coskun replied, “The Hariri Institute will be a powerful facilitator for bridging the computing research across different departments at BU, as well as connecting BU researchers with the local industry. Computing research has become, and will continue to be, tremendously interdisciplinary; thus, I believe cross-departmental institutes such as Hariri will play a key role in igniting breakthrough research.”

Prof. David Castañón, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, described her work. “Prof. Coskun’s research aims to improve energy efficiency in 3D stacked systems while preserving reliability, which will provide unique insights into the complex interplay among energy, temperature, and performance of computer systems. Her work has already attracted significant support from industry and government funding agencies. Through interactions with the Hariri Institute members, her research will expand to include energy-efficient computing motivated by diverse applications.”

Mark KramerProfessor Mark Kramer joined the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in 2009. His background includes training in physics, dynamical systems, and neuroscience, and he earned his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley in 2006. His research currently focuses on mathematical neuroscience, with a particular emphasis on biophysical models of neural activity and data analysis techniques. As one example, Prof. Kramer is working with researchers at Mass General Hospital to apply mathematical and computational techniques to better characterize, and eventually treat, epileptic seizures.

“It’s an exciting privilege to join the Hariri Institute as a Junior Faculty Fellow. I look forward to collaborating with the other Fellows and the Hariri Institute’s community of scholars to undertake new and engaging, interdisciplinary research,” said Prof. Kramer.

Prof. Tasso Kaper, head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, noted, “Our department is proud that Prof. Mark Kramer has been named as a Junior Fellow of the Hariri Institute for Computational Science and Engineering in recognition of his pioneering research in mathematical neuroscience. Jointly with colleagues in medicine, neuroscience, and biomedical engineering, he investigates fundamental problems involving the dynamics and functional roles of brain rhythms, functional connectivity in brain networks, and multi-scale activity between individual neurons and populations of neurons. Moreover, he approaches the underlying questions using a broad array of techniques from mathematics, statistics, and physics, in ways that also shed light on multi-scale and network problems in related disciplines.”

Ben LubinProfessor Benjamin Lubin joined the School of Management in 2010. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2011. His research interests include game theory, multi-agent systems, electronic commerce, and grid computing. Much of his work is at the intersection of economics and computer science, such as applying machine learning techniques to mechanism design, a branch of economics in which game theory is used to optimize market rules.

Commenting on Prof. Lubin’s work, Prof. Chrysanthos Dellarocas said, “Ben’s research lies at the intersection of computer science and economics, leveraging computational techniques to construct markets in highly complex settings, such as government bandwidth and landing rights auctions, power and hardware allocation in data centers, and healthcare provisioning. His work is cross-disciplinary and path-breaking. Our department is proud to see him recognized as a Fellow of the Hariri Institute for Computational Science and Engineering.”

“The Hariri Institute represents a tremendous opportunity to foster interdisciplinary research, and I’m thrilled at the chance to be a part of it,” said Prof. Lubin.

Jason RittProfessor Jason Ritt joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2010. His current research concentrates on how organisms gather and use information from their environment, through active sensing and sensory decision-making. For example, Prof. Ritt and his students are studying the ways in which mice explore environments using their whiskers, employing a combination of computational analysis of high-speed video, electrophysiological recordings, and neurocontrol methods implemented by a real-time feedback system built on a digital signal processing architecture. He received his Ph.D. in neuroscience and a Masters in mathematics from Boston University.

Prof. Sol Eisenberg, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, observed, “Dr. Ritt is highly innovative, extraordinarily energetic, and very articulate and enthusiastic about his research. We believe he is truly among the very best young faculty working at the intersection of experimental neuroscience, computational science, and bioengineering.”

Prof. Ritt is already finding new ideas in discussions at the Institute. “From the first meeting of the Fellows, I could see the exciting and unique opportunity of participating in this highly interdisciplinary center, with the computational issues my lab faces placed in a much larger context from experts with a wide range of backgrounds.”

Evimaria TerziProfessor Evimaria Terzi joined the Department of Computer Science in 2009. Before coming to Boston University, she was a member of the research staff at IBM Almaden Research Center. Her current research focuses on data mining with emphasis on social-network analysis, analysis of sequential data, ranking, clustering and bioinformatics. In particular she is working on problems related to expert identification and team formation in social networks, analysis of online product reviews, and privacy-preserving social network analysis. Evimaria is a Microsoft Faculty Fellow and her research is supported by NSF and gifts from Yahoo! , Google, and Microsoft.

Prof. Sclaroff continues, “Evimaria has launched a vibrant research program in data mining, including her work on algorithms for very large, network-structured datasets. Her work promises a wide range of cross-disciplinary applications in the social sciences, life sciences, business, and engineering. The Hariri Institute provides a perfect platform for such collaboration.”

Commenting on the role of this program in her research, Prof. Terzi said, “The Hariri Institute is an excellent facilitator for data mining research as it brings together scientists from different areas. Being part of it is an excellent opportunity for making data mining research at BU stronger.”

About the Hariri Institute

The mission of the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering is to initiate, catalyze, and propel collaborative, interdisciplinary research and training initiatives for the betterment of society by promoting discovery and innovations through the use of computational and data-driven approaches, as well as advances in the science of computing inspired by challenges in the arts, sciences, engineering, and management. Endowed by a generous gift from Bahaa R. Hariri, the Institute strives to create and sustain a community of scholars who believe in the transformative potential of computational perspectives in research and education. This vision is realized through the support of a portfolio of ambitious computational research projects, and forward-looking educational and outreach initiatives at Boston University.

About the Junior Fellows Program

The Junior Fellows program of the Hariri Institute was established both to recognize outstanding junior faculty at Boston University working in diverse areas of the computational sciences as well as to provide focal points for supporting broader collaborative research in these areas at Boston University and beyond. Junior Fellows are selected by the Hariri Institute Executive Steering Committee based on nominations received each spring.