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SharahMehrotraOn Dec. 9, 2020, IEEE announced the select group of members it would recognize in 2021 as IEEE Fellows. Less than 0.1% of voting members are selected annually for this member grade elevation, and part of this select grorup for 2021 was Sharad Mehrotra, a professor of computer science in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS). He was recognized for “contributions to the fields of data management and multimedia information retrieval.”

Mehrotra’s multimedia contributions first date back to the mid-1990s, when he helped build the Multimedia Analysis and Retrieval System (MARS). “At the time, the field of multimedia was undergoing a transformation with progress in digitization and data capture technologies, and it had become possible to create digital libraries of diverse types of content, including images and video,” he explains. “A key challenge at the time was how one would index such data and develop tools to search and retrieve them.” Taking inspiration from the information retrieval field, MARS introduced relevance feedback, retrieval models and efficient mechanisms to index and search such data. Papers on MARS were recognized through several awards, including a SIGMOD Best Paper Award in 2001 for work on dimensionality reduction, and a Most Cited Paper Award in 1998 from IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology for work on relevance feedback.

In the early 2000s, Mehrotra also contributed to pioneering work in the area of database-as-a-service, exploring challenges that would arise when organizations or clients would migrate their data to database services hosted on public clouds. “The key challenge addressed was that of ‘loss of control,’ wherein end-users could not restrict the access to (potentially) sensitive data by other entities such as other tenants of the same infrastructure or privileged insiders,” says Mehrotra. “The project explored how encryption technologies could be exploited to build trust, leading to the problem of secure data management over encrypted data.” This early work on database-as-a-service was recognized through the prestigious SIGMOD Test of Time Award in 2012, leading to a new research area within data management focused on encrypted data search, which is still active today.

“I’m very honored to be elevated to be an IEEE Fellow,” says Mehrotra. “I’m very happy to join the ranks of others at UCI who are IEEE Fellows.” Other IEEE Fellows from the School of ICS include Pierre Baldi, Michael Carey, Michael Franz, Michael Goodrich, Ramesh Jain, Cristina Lopes, Alexandru Nicolau, Marios Papaefthymiou and Gene Tsudik.

— Shani Murray