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On June 6, 2023, the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) recognized faculty and staff at its annual ICS Awards Celebration. Dean Marios Papaefthymiouwelcomed new staff, announced the recipient of the Jim McKenzie Staff Leadership Award, presented the Dean’s Faculty Awards and recognized a variety of faculty members for recent accomplishments.

Dean Marios with Bill Cohen.The 2023 Jim McKenzie Staff Leadership Award
The late ICS Assistant Dean Jim McKenzie was a champion for staff, striving to create an atmosphere of inclusiveness. Launched in 2017, the McKenzie Award honors an outstanding ICS staff member who leads and inspires others, influencing without authority and often putting the interests of others ahead of their own. The outstanding staff member recognized for 2023 was Bill Cohen, director of computing support.

“Bill received several nominations from faculty and staff,” said Dean Marios, noting that it would be difficult to itemize all of his contributions. Dean Marios spoke of how Cohen has created, adapted and implemented multiple internal admin databases that have had a tremendous impact across the School of ICS. “He has a wide understanding of processes … and has collaborated with every unit in ICS,” said Dean Marios. “Bill also has a unique understanding of institutional data and the systems that store them, and [can] display data in a way that is useful to the recipients.” ICS faculty and staff are grateful for his 24/7 availability!

The Dean’s Faculty Awards
Dean Marios also recognized various faculty members, presenting awards for innovative research, dedicated service, exemplary student mentorship and exceptional teaching. Each award comes with a $500 discretionary account.

Dean Marios with Dan Gillen.

The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research went to Dan Gillen, Chancellor’s Professor and chair of the Department of Statistics. Gillen’s research addresses challenges in survival statistics, longitudinal data and the methodology of clinical trials. A central theme of his research program and contributions are his collaborations across campus. Namely, he has served as the director of data and statistics for the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) at the UC Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND). Within the UCI Institute for Precision Health, Gillen serves as director of one of the core disciplines — the SMART (statistics, machine learning, artificial intelligence technologies) core. In addition to being chair of the Department of Statistics, he holds affiliate appointments in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and the Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention.

Dean Marios with Mimi Ito.

The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mid-Career Research went to Mimi Ito, director of the Connected Learning Lab (CLL), which has 42 affiliated faculty from across campus and more than 100 affiliated students. Ito’s research area is in digital media and learning and, more specifically, the new ways youth learn in a networked generation, including aspects of social computing and computer games. Her recent research focuses on BIPOC communities and connected learning, and she has published reports on the culmination of multiyear, multi-investigator research projects, including Social Media and Youth Wellbeing: What We Know and Where We Could Go. She maintains a diverse portfolio of extramural support, and her funding of over $3.3 million comes from the Gates Foundation, Pivotal Ventures, the Samueli Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, NSF, and others.

Dean Marios with Jennifer Wong-Ma.

The Dean’s Award for Service went to Jennifer Wong-Ma, associate professor of teaching. Wong-Ma has proven to be an invaluable asset to the Department of Computer Science and School of ICS. In addition to effectively managing essential functions like developing intricate teaching plans, overseeing program and course changes and proposals, and addressing student academic matters, she has demonstrated exceptional leadership by chairing various committees. She has also been mentoring and supporting ICS faculty in teaching large courses, training new staff members and providing departmental support during absence and transit. Furthermore, much of her service has an important inclusive perspective, such as being an advisory board member for UCI Women in Technology (WiT), a co-advisor for Women in Information and Computer Science (WICS) and an advisor for UCI Commit The Change (CTC).

Dean Marios with Yunan Chen.

The Dean’s Award for Graduate Student Education and Mentoring went to Associate Professor of Informatics Yunan Chen, whose research is in the general areas of human-computer interaction (HCI) and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW). She specializes in the domain of health informatics, including researching issues related to the interaction of patients and records, the role of social media and issues of compliance. She has demonstrated excellence in mentoring, being mindful to publish with her students. On three occasions recently, her students were finalists in the Student Paper Competition sponsored by the American Medical Informatics Association. Her doctoral students have secured excellent positions including assistant professor at Georgia Tech, assistant professor at Penn State, associate professor at the University of Michigan and as a UX researcher at Google.

The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching went to Assistant Professor of Teaching Sergio Gago-Masague, recognizing his outstanding pedagogical contributions to ICS. Gago-Masague has demonstrated exceptional teaching abilities and a dedication to preparing his students beyond the standard curriculum. He has taught nine distinct courses, with a total of 25 offerings. Has designed and implemented a highly successful capstone project and a course focused on reducing inequality in computer science and engineering. He also co-led the design of a game-based platform for teaching security in AI. He has also excelled in teaching large traditionally challenging courses, such as ICS 6N (Computational Linear Algebra) and ICS 46 (Data Structures), by introducing new digital tools and assignments to improve course materials.

A list of past Dean’s Award winners appears online.

Recognizing Faculty Accomplishments

Dean Marios also honored the following faculty members for their academic accomplishments:

  • Mohsen Imani: DARPA Young Faculty Award
  • Mohammad Moshirpour: Summit Award for Excellence in Education
  • Annie Que: International Statistical Institute Member
  • Sandy Irani: ACM Fellow
  • Stanislaw Jarecki: IACR Fellow
  • Chen Li: IEEE Fellow
  • Ramesh Jain: ACM Distinguished Service Award
  • Vijay Vazirani: John von Neumann Theory Prize

Thank you to all ICS faculty and staff for their continued dedication and service!

Shani Murray