Atanasoff Today: Letter from the Chair

The Department of Computer Science is coming off of an unprecedented year. I send my deepest thanks to all members of faculty and staff who have contributed to the success of the past year. From launching the master’s program in artificial intelligence to the myriad of awards received, we have a lot to be proud of.

Our department continues to be at the forefront of evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence, cyber security, cloud computing, data science, software engineering and more. This year, we saw a boost in enrollment which will undoubtedly add to the momentum of our success.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the great loss we suffered since our last edition. In February, we lost our beloved colleague and educator, Professor Giora Slutzki. Giora dedicated his life to the university during his long career at Iowa State and his absence leaves an irreplaceable imprint on the fabric of our department. We are very interested in memorializing Dr. Slutzki’s illustrious career with the department; please do reach out to me with your ideas.

Despite the hardships the last few years dealt, we have a lot to celebrate. In June, the Board of Regents approved the state’s first master’s program in artificial intelligence. Our department recognized the explosive growth of A.I. technology and is taking significant steps to educate and train future A.I. scientists and professionals. I look forward to all that is to come for this new avenue.

This summer we gathered to celebrate the retirement of Johnny Wong, Professor Emeritus, who dedicated many years of service to the department during his expansive career. Johnny helped our department get to where it is and we wish him all the best during his well-deserved retirement.

Since our last magazine, we have welcomed two new members of faculty: Matthew Tan Creti and Abusayeed Saifullah. Matthew joins us as an Assistant Teaching Professor and Abusayeed as an Assistant Professor. They have both been great additions to our department and continue our tradition of hiring outstanding faculty.

Our department is home to world-class computer science faculty, who have achieved incredible new heights over the last year. For starters, Adisak Sukul was selected as a Google Faculty Expert, Jin Tian was invited to join the Simons Institute Program at Berkeley, Wei Le received a grant from the Software Engineering Institute at the Carnegie Mellon University, Hongyang Gao received an NSF grant, and Robyn Lutz won a Lifetime Service Award from the IEEE Conference, just to name a few.

Since its opening in 1969, Atanasoff Hall has served us well; however, the facilities are now in need of significant improvements as the department has grown both in size and in research activities. Thus, improving our current facilities in Atanasoff Hall continues to be at the top of our agenda.

Heading into the next year, our priorities remain the same. We are pursuing growth in quantum information science, autonomy and smart one precision health, a digital amalgamation of medical, environmental and genetic data to provide predictive and responsive health care. We also remain dedicated to recruiting experts to lead initiatives in trustworthy A.I.

I hope you enjoy reading about our accomplishments from the last year and I look forward to all that is to come. Your support is always appreciated.

Hridesh Rajan, Kingland Professor of Data Analytics and Chair
Department of Computer Science

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