Five New Faculty Join UMIACS

Tue Jun 25, 2019

Five new faculty will join the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) in the next 12 months, bringing their strengths in scientific computing, applied cryptography, computational biology, natural language processing, and robotics to the Maryland campus.

Abhinav Bhatele, Ian Miers, Rob Patro, Rachel Rudinger and Pratap Tokekar will each have tenure-track positions as assistant professors in the Department of Computer Science in addition to their UMIACS appointments.

Patro will start on July 1, with Bhatele and Tokekar slated to arrive on August 1. Miers and Rudinger will start their positions at UMD in 2020.

These new appointments will swell the ranks of the UMIACS research community to more than 85 faculty and research scientists, many of whom work in the institute’s seven major centers.

“We look forward to collaborating with these talented faculty on significant research challenges that can only be solved with the power of computing,” says Mihai Pop, professor of computer science and director of UMIACS.

Here are brief bios for the five new appointments:

Abhinav Bhatele

Bhatele’s research interests are broadly in systems and networks, with a focus on parallel computing and data analytics.

He has published research on programming models and runtimes, network design and simulation, applications of machine learning to parallel systems, and on analyzing, modeling and optimizing the performance of parallel software and systems.

Bhatele comes to UMD from the Center for Applied Scientific Computing at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He received his doctorate in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010.

Ian Miers

Miers’s research focuses on computer security and applied cryptography.

His work takes a context-driven approach to making cryptographic systems secure, reasoning backwards from real-world problems to design deployable cryptographic protocols that address the subtleties of security for production systems. This includes Zerocoin and Zerocash, the first systems to provide strongly private payments on top of public blockchains.

It also includes work on improving the security of mobile messaging, including attacks on iMessage and new techniques for forward secure encryption that guard against the exposure of encryption keys.

Miers is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell Tech. He received his doctorate in computer science from Johns Hopkins University in 2017.

Rob Patro

Patro’s research interests are in the design of algorithms and data structures for processing, organizing, indexing and querying high-throughput genomics data.

He also investigates topics at the intersection of efficient algorithms and statistical inference. More broadly, Patro’s interests extend to programming languages, computer graphics, scientific visualization, parallel computation and machine learning.

Patro’s research group will work in the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB).

Prior to coming to UMD, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at Stony Brook University. Patro received his doctorate in computer science from UMD in 2012.

Rachel Rudinger

Rudinger will work in the Computational Linguistics and Information Processing (CLIP) Lab.

Her research focuses on problems in natural language understanding, including knowledge acquisition from text, commonsense inference, computationally-tractable semantic representations, and semantic parsing.

Rudinger recently received her doctorate in computer science from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Language and Speech Processing.

Before coming to UMD, she will complete a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) in Seattle, joint with the University of Washington. The position is supported through AI2’s Young Investigator postdoctoral program.

Pratap Tokekar

Tokekar’s main research is robotics, with a focus on algorithms that enable aerial, ground and marine robots to actively sense and gather data in environments.

He also works on developing systems for applications related to environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, infrastructure inspection, and security and surveillance.

Tokekar joins UMD from the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech where he was an assistant professor. While there, he directed the Robotics Algorithms & Autonomous Systems Lab. Tokekar is a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s CISE Research Initiation Initiative (CRII) award.

He received his doctorate in computer science from the University of Minnesota in 2014.

—Story by Melissa Brachfeld