Thursday, April 9, 2015

Great Data Science Center Launch at UMass Amherst Today with Photos

Today was a jampacked, fabulous day (although we did wake up to a blanket of snow and ice and it is April 9)!

Today was the Data Science Center launch at UMass Amherst with a terrific program, many friends in attendance, and great talks and panelists.

The venue was the 6th floor of the new Life Sciences Lab building at UMasss Amherst and there were refreshments upon our arrival.

The first one I saw was Professor Andrew McCallum of the Computer Science Department, who is the Director of the new Data Science Center (and we hosted Andre in our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series a while back).
He was a terrific master of ceremonies and the visionary and leader behind this endeavor as our Provost, Dr. Katherine Newman emphasized in her remarks. I snapped the photo of them hugging below.
I got to chat with our Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Dr. Mike Malone and Professor David Jensen of Computer Science, who also spoke in our series.

It was great to see my colleagues from Civil and Environmental Engineering, Professors Eleni Chritofa and Eric Gonzales, fellow transportation researchers.

Our Chancellor, Dr. Kumble Subbaswamy and Provost Dr. Katherine Newman had opening remarks as did Professor McCallum.
The keynote was given by Distinguished University Professor Jim Kurose, who is now serving in the CISE Directorate at NSF. He remarked how warm and lovely it was in DC with the cherry blossoms in bloom and then he landed in Bradley Airport and drove to Amherst through a hailstorm. He, as always, had some good jokes including his first presentation as an NSF program officer during which he did not thank the most important person (but thanked others).

I left the event for 2 hours since one of my doctoral students, Sara Saberi, was defending her doctoral dissertation proposal (she passed, so congratulations are in order) and the photo below is of her with the dissertation committee: Professor Adams Steven, Tilman Wolf, and Michael Zink.

 I then came back for the poster session with my doctoral student Shivani Shukla and got to see more colleagues from the College of Engineering and the Isenberg School as well as meeting a professor from Smith College and talking with more Comp Sci professors. Another highpoint was seeing Chris Hill of MIT who came up to me to reminisce about when we were at the U. of Illinois' Supercomputing Center one summer for several weeks - this was very special and I have fond memories of (massively) parallel computing, which I loved to do! Once a programmer, always a programmer!

As Professor Kurose said in his remarks, Congratulations to the Data Science Center,, and on a great launch event.