Six Hariri Institute Affiliates Promoted to Full Professor

President Robert Brown and Provost Jean Morrison announce faculty promotions

Recognized as Leaders in Their Fields & Classrooms

Six faculty affiliated with the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering have been promoted to the rank of full professor at Boston University. They were among 24 faculty from the Charles River Campus who were promoted this week in an announcement from President Robert Brown and Provost Jean Morrison.

“The individuals we recognize today have emerged as leaders, both in their respective areas of research and in their classrooms… and are embarking on highly relevant new areas of inquiry, employing innovative new approaches, and pursuing boundary-pushing collaborations across dozens of disciplines,” says Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer. “In doing so, they exemplify each day the excellence and impact of Boston University’s talented academic community.” 

Those faculty promoted to full professor who are affiliated with the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering are:


Kate Saenko is a Professor of Computer Science (CAS) at BU and AI Research Scientist at FAIR Labs, Meta.  At the Hariri Institute, Saenko is a member of the Steering Committee, and the Founder and Co-Director of BU’s Artificial Intelligence Research (AIR) Initiative. She also co-leads the “Teaching Machines Human-Like Intelligence” Focused Research Program. Saenko specializes in machine learning, concentrating on the development of new systems to enhance vision and language understanding. The recipient of several active federal grants supporting her research into artificial intelligence, she has published extensively in leading computer science journals, and is director of BU’s Computer Vision Learning Group and a consulting professor at the MIT-IBM Watson Lab. Last year, she received an AI 2000 Most Influential Scholar Honorable Mention in Computer Vision, and in 2017, she received the Most Innovative Solution award, alongside her students, in the IEEE Large-Scale Activity Recognition Challenge

Jennifer Balakrishnan is a Professor of Mathematics & Statistics (CAS). She is a member of the Hariri Institute’s Steering Committee and was a Junior Faculty Fellow (2018-2021).   She is a computational number theorist researching algorithmic number theory and arithmetic geometry. Supported by numerous grants from the Simons Foundation and the National Science Foundation (NSF), including a CAREER award, she is recognized among the world’s leading authorities on the quadratic Chabauty method and the application of p-adic techniques to Diophantine geometry. She is a past Sloan Research Fellow and a recent recipient of the American Mathematical Society’s Joan and Joseph Birman Fellowship for Women Scholars and the Association for Women in Mathematics’ Microsoft Research Prize in Algebra and Number Theory. She has published one book, one book chapter, and 17 articles in top-tier mathematics journals, including La Matematica.

Research Fellows

Taylor Boas is Professor of Political Science (CAS) who specializes in comparative politics in Latin America. He is a faculty affiliate of the Hariri Institute of Computing and was an Institute Junior Faculty Fellow (2013-2016).  Boas’ research focuses predominantly on campaigns, corruption, electoral accountability, and mass media, applying quantitative and qualitative methods. He has earned a reputation as one of the leading scholars on the politics of Brazil, with recent work examining the electoral activities of Latin America’s growing evangelical community. He has written two books, including 2016’s Presidential Campaigns in Latin America: Electoral Strategies and Success Contagion with a third currently under review, along with 10 book chapters and numerous journal articles, book reviews, and working papers examining elections in Central and South America.

Konstantinos Spiliopoulos is a Professor of Mathematics & Statistics (CAS). He is a faculty affiliate of the Hariri Institute of Computing and was an Institute Junior Faculty Fellow (2013-2016). Spiliopoulos researches probability, stochastic processes, and statistics, exploring the application of stochastic partial differential equations to challenges in the sciences, engineering, and finance. He has also worked to establish deep new mathematical theory and to solve important applied scientific problems in cellular biology, data science, machine learning, and neural networks, among several fields. Supported by numerous NSF grants, he is a member of BU’s Center for Information & Systems Engineering, a past Simons Fellow in Mathematics, and a frequently invited lecturer. He has published two book chapters and 35 articles in important mathematics and scientific journals.

Faculty Affiliates

Theresa Ellis is a Professor of Physical Therapy (Sargent) and a faculty affiliate of the Hariri Institute of Computing.  Ellis specializes in neurorehabilitation, investigating the impact of exercise and rehabilitation on the progression of disability in those with Parkinson’s disease. She is the chair of her department, the director of the BU Center for Neurorehabilitation, and a Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association. In 2022, she received the American Parkinson Disease Association’s Shawn Thornton Service Award. Her research is supported by several NIH and NSF grants, and she has published over 90 journal articles, as well as established guidelines for her field. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy and a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and the Movement Disorders Society.

Paul Withers is a Professor of Astronomy (CAS) and a faculty affiliate of the Hariri Institute of Computing.  Withers specializes in the study of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere of planets, using radio science instruments and developing theoretical models to discover how multiple factors – from solar flux to magnetic fields – interact under the unique conditions of each planet. Credited with reinvigorating the field of radio occultation experiments, he has earned several major NASA achievement awards and is a PI on numerous active NASA and NSF grants exploring conditions on Earth, Saturn, Mars, and Venus. He is associate chair of his department and associate director of the BU Center for Space Physics. He has published two book chapters and 84 articles in premier scientific journals.