Jul/07/2020

Since launching on July 1, 2017, the School of Computing and Information (SCI) at Pitt has made a number of significant accomplishments thanks to the constant dedication and work of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and partners. As we reflect on these many exciting achievements, we also look to the future of the School and all that we will achieve.

Some of our accomplishments include:

  • Four year admitting undergraduate program. Beginning in Fall 2018, SCI was approved to become a four year admitting undergraduate program at the undergraduate level. Students are able to learn about computing and information and their applications in a variety of disciplines from the very first day of classes. Additionally, the School developed a number of exciting joint majors with other Pitt schools and departments such as Computational Biology and Digital Narrative and Interactive Design, which allow students to focus their study of computing within non-traditional contexts.
  • Launching Modeling and Managing Complicated Systems (momacs) Institute. In Spring 2018, SCI launched the Modeling and Managing Complicated Systems (momacs) Institute to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to model large-scale societal challenges such as food insecurity, national security, and the opioid epidemic.
  • Redesigned the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree program. The faculty in the Department of Information Culture and Data Stewardship (ICDS) conducted a comprehensive redesign of the MLIS degree program to better prepare students for changing roles of information professionals in society today. Most recently, the Department also introduced new courses dedicated to applied data-driven methods and their applications within library and information science disciplines.
  • Hired tenure and appointment stream faculty. SCI hired a number of new faculty members to further both the research expertise and teaching excellence of the school. They have helped develop new majors and courses for students, participated in committees to further the success of the School, and conducted critical and timely research on topics such as contact tracing / office tracking and combating misinformation.
  • Launched a Professional Institute. The School launched a Professional Institute with its first offerings in cybersecurity to fill critical skills gaps in the industry and allow professionals to gain up-to-date competencies in this ever-changing field.

What’s New at SCI?

New Faculty

We are excited to welcome nine new faculty members to SCI this Fall term. Spanning all three Departments, these new faculty hires will expand SCI’s teaching and research expertise. Please join us in welcoming the following faculty members:

  • Malihe Alikhani, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
  • Morgan Frank, Assistant Professor, Department of Informatics and Networked Systems and Department of Information Culture and Data Stewardship
  • Xiaowei Jai, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
  • Wonsun Ahn, Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
  • Arjun Chandrasekhar, Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
  • Chelsea Gunn, Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of Information Culture and Data Stewardship
  • Ahmed Ibrahim, Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of Informatics and Networked Systems
  • Rebecca Morris, Teaching Associate Professor, Department of Information Culture and Data Stewardship
  • Luis de Oliveira, Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
Promotions and Leadership Changes

Prashant Krishnamurthy, professor, was named chair of the Department of Informatics and Networked Systems. Krishnamurthy joined Pitt in 1999 and was one of the co-founders of the school’s Laboratory for Education and Research in Security Assured Information Systems (LERSAIS), a national Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Information Assurance Education (IAC) and Research (IAR). He teaches at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, offering introductory and advanced courses on wireless networks and cryptography.

Alexandros Labrinidis, professor, was named chair of the Department of Computer Science. Labrinidis joined Pitt in 2002. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in Computer Science and is a co-director of the Advanced Data Management Technologies Laboratory. His research interests include: Big data, Internet of Things (IoT), the Physical Web, user-centric data management, data stream management systems, data-intensive computing, collaborative systems, scientific data management, quality of data/quality of service, and the deep Web.

Youtao Zhang, in the Department of Computer Science, has been promoted to full professor. Zhang joined the Department of Computer Science in 2006. He teaches CS courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and his research interests include computer architecture, machine learning, and compilers and program analysis.

Erin Walker, in the Department of Computer Science, was promoted to associate professor with tenure. Walker joined Pitt in 2019, where she also works as a research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC). Walker’s research interest’s include intelligent tutoring systems, computer-supported collaboration, tangible and embodied learning environments, human-robot interaction, technology for the developing world, personalized learning environments, learning technologies, and human-computer interaction.

Paul Cohen stepped down as dean of SCI effective July 1. He rejoined the faculty in the Department of Computer Science and will direct the Modeling and Managing Complicated Systems (momacs) Institute. We thank Dr. Cohen for his dedication and leadership to the School during its first three years!

Effective July 1, Bruce Childers, Senior Associate Dean of SCI and Special Assistant to the Provost for Data Science, began serving as interim dean of the School. Childers has been with the Department of Computer Science since 2000 and has held a leadership role within SCI since its opening. Read his Dean’s Annual Update Message.

As we prepare for the Fall term and look towards the future of the School, we recognize the challenges ahead in the face of an unprecedented pandemic and the increased awareness of the racial injustice and disparities felt across the country. We look forward with energy and optimism that as a community, we will work together to build a brighter future for ourselves, future students, and society as a whole.