Atri Rudra, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, was named the first Katherine Johnson Chair in Artificial Intelligence.
A prestigious endowment was created by D. Sivakumar (Siva), PhD ’96 and Uma Mahadevan, PhD ’98, in support of the university’s Boldly Buffalo campaign. The couple, who studied computer science at UB, co-founded Tonita, an AI startup that is building a new paradigm for commerce search using natural language understanding.
“Gifts like these are very important because they support our core values of providing an inclusive and equitable educational experience for all engineers and scientists. I am very grateful.”
For Sivakumar, who was born into a family of teachers and remembers his CSE professors as outspoken advocates for his career and education, ultimately contributing to supporting educational excellence at SEAS was the driving force behind his decision to donate this chair. It was an important driving force. “To provide the best education, we need the highest quality professors. Not only the appointed professorship, but all the funding that comes with it, must be used to create the right recognition.”
Sivakumar named the chair in honor of Katherine Johnson, a mathematics pioneer featured in the movie Hidden Figures. In one poignant scene, Johnson was leading a team struggling to calculate the spacecraft’s re-entry. That’s when she suggested using calculations instead of formulas. It was a thrilling moment for her Sivakumar, who has devoted his career to computation, including pioneering work in the field of information complexity as a researcher at IBM.
“The film portrays how, as an African-American woman, she’s unlikely to do this type of work,” says Sivakumar, calling her an inspiration. He passed away in 2020 at the age of 101.
“It’s a little late in my career to give back to UB, but I hope all alumni will support the university. This is the best way for public universities to improve.” says Sivakumar. “And Professor Rudra was the first to serve as this chair, and we are particularly pleased with his commitment to excellence in teaching at UB,” he adds.
Jinhui Xu, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, calls Rudra “a particularly good recipient.”
“He is a passionate advocate for promoting and supporting diversity in computer science and engineering, and is committed to educating students about both the negative and positive impacts of computing on society.”
“It is an absolute honor to receive the chairmanship donated by Katherine Johnson,” says Rudra. In fact, being a mathematician is also something I share with Shiva: we both wrote papers on similar topics, although not with each other. I have.”
Rudra is a member of UB’s Computing for Social Good group, working on a research project on how computing can help decision-making in the US foster care system. undergraduate curriculum. More broadly, his research interests include problems at the intersection of social and computing, structured linear algebra, and databases his algorithms. He is a faculty mentor at UB’s Society and Computing Club and He DivTech, a student club aimed at increasing diversity in STEM fields.
The gift and his appointment as Chair will enable Rudra to better support student activities in a number of ways. This includes funding projects that embrace responsible computing and take a holistic look at how computing sits within society. In addition, it facilitates opportunities for students from multiple disciplines and hands-on experiences to discuss computing and society. It also supports traditional research and educational activities, such as visits and lectures by scholars conducting interdisciplinary research that are difficult to support with funding from traditional sources.
Finally, Rudra would like to be able to pilot small, high-risk projects.
“Specifically, I am very excited that this gift will also help bootstrap some of the new initiatives Daria Antonia Caravaro Müller, Associate Professor in the Department of History, and I are involved with. about our computer science and engineering courses in general, and some of mine in particular,” Rudra says. “Most of my work thus far has tended to be categorized as either research or teaching, but this research, which combines both teaching and research, is particularly close to my heart. increase.”
Rudra is a co-editor of the Mozilla Teaching Responsible Computing playbook. This is a guide on how universities can update their curricula to place more emphasis on ethics when designing technology products. His numerous awards and achievements include ACM Principles of Database Systems (PODS) Symposium Test of Time Award (2022), SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2022), ICML Outstanding Paper Runner Up award (2022), UB Exceptional Scholar: Sustained, etc. Achievement Award (2022), UB Teaching Innovation Award (2021), SEAS Senior Teacher of the Year (2020 and 2015), Best Paper Award from ACM Principles of Database Systems (PODS) Symposiums (2012 and 2016), IBM Faculty Award (2013) ), UB Exceptional Scholars-Young Investigator Award (2011), HP Labs Open Innovation Research Award (2010), Best Paper Award at the 18th Algorithms Annual European Symposium (2010), NSF CAREER award (2009) doing.
His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, IBM, the National Institutes of Health, and others. He has published over 75 of his papers in peer-reviewed journals, conference and workshop proceedings.
Rudra received his PhD from the University of Washington and joined the faculty at UB in 2007. Prior to that, she was a researcher at the IBM India Research Lab in New Delhi, India.