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Faculty and staff of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) gathered for the inaugural ICS Awards Celebration, a luncheon to honor recipients of the Jim McKenzie Staff Leadership Award and the Dean’s Faculty Awards.

The Jim McKenzie Staff Leadership Award
Launched last year in memory of the late ICS Assistant Dean Jim McKenzie — known for his bold and creative leadership — this award honors an outstanding ICS staff member who leads and inspires others, influences without authority and serves as a “champion for staff.” McKenzie was a highly valuable colleague who believed that building a better workplace requires investing in your people.

ICS Dean Marios Papaefthymiou introduced the 2018 recipient as “the rock that brings the CS faculty together.” With responsibilities ranging from recruitment to separation, he noted that this person is involved in every aspect of employment and review for the computer science faculty. Those who nominated her said she “finds something to appreciate in everyone” and “makes our workplace a little more human.” Furthermore, she “goes above and beyond to help new faculty feel welcome” and “handles every issue she encounters with creativity, intelligence, good humor and integrity.”

Papaefthymiou was then pleased to award Academic Personnel Analyst Melanie Sanders with the 2018 Jim McKenzie Staff Leadership Award.

The Dean’s Faculty Awards
As Papaefthymiou moved on to the five Dean’s Faculty Awards, which recognize innovative research, exemplar service, student mentorship and exceptional teaching skills, he noted that each comes with a $500 discretionary account.

He presented the Dean’s Award for Research to Alfred Kobsa, a pioneer in the area of user modeling in human-computer interaction. Kobsa’s research addresses issues in security and privacy for end users, specifically helping users make choices about their privacy settings.

The Dean’s Mid-Career Award for Research went to Yunan Chen for work on health informatics, including issues related to the interaction of patients and records, the role of social media, and issues of compliance. In the last two years, she had a burst of research productivity, producing 32 publications.

The Dean’s Award for Service was presented to Zhaoxia Yu, who has demonstrated great dedication to service. She serves as the vice chair for undergraduate studies with the Department of Statistics. Within the school, she also serves on the ICS Undergraduate Policy Committee and is the chair of the Data Science Steering Committee. At the campus level, she served for four years on the Academic Senate Committee for Undecided/Undeclared Students of UCI.

The Dean’s Award for Graduate Student Education and Mentoring went to Sharad Mehrotra. His current research focuses on the challenging areas of security and privacy and the emerging area of the Internet of Things. He has been exceptionally successful in funding his research group, receiving eight new grants, totaling almost $6.5 million. He also supports a large and diverse group of graduate and undergraduate students.

Finally, the Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Teaching was presented to Sameer Singh, who researches machine learning and natural language processing and has shown a particular passion for undergraduate teaching. An exceptional project he undertook was to rework the undergraduate project class in artificial intelligence (COMPSCI 175), adopting the open source platform Malmo for the class project work.

You can view a list of past Dean’s Award winners here.

Faculty Accomplishments
Papaefthymiou also took the time to recognize some of the top faculty accomplishments of the 2017-18 academic year, including:

  • Judy Olson’s election to the National Academy of Engineering;
  • Michael Goodrich’s election as a Foreign Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters;
  • Harry Xu winning the 2018 AITO Junior Dahl-Nygaard Prize;
  • Gene Tsudik receiving the ACM SIGSAC (Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control) Outstanding Contributions Award;
  • Nikil Dutt receiving the CS @ Illinois 2017 Distinguished Educator Award;
  • Michael Franz receiving UCI Applied Innovation’s inaugural Innovator of the Year Award;
  • Bonnie Ruberg receiving the 2018 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research;
  • Crista Lopes being recognized as the Dean’s Honoree for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching; and
  • Geoffrey Bowker being named a Donald Bren Professor in Information and Computer Sciences.

Papaefthymiou concluded the ceremony by thanking everyone for making ICS such a wonderful community for everyone, especially the students.

— Shani Murray