I'd like to begin this message by thanking my Acting Chair, Fahiem Bacchus, for his outstanding leadership over the past year. It turned out to be a very heavy year, and Fahiem successfully navigated our department through a number of complex challenges. His commitment to our department, the sensibility and thoughtfulness he brings to every issue, and the good nature and sensitivity with which he interacts with people all set a wonderful example for me and for our future chairs. Fahiem moved our department forward and now leaves it in great shape. I'm very grateful for this, and for the personal and professional sacrifices he's made over the last year on our collective behalf.
Welcome to New Students, Faculty and Staff
The Fall is always an exciting time for me because of the large infusion of new faces. I'd like to extend a warm welcome to all of our new students, including undergraduate, M.Sc., M.Sc.A.C. (our Professional Masters students), and Ph.D. students. I hope your transition to the department and to the city is a smooth one, and I look forward to meeting you all. I'd also like to welcome our three new Assistant Professors who have been arriving at various times over 2011, including Daniel Wigdor, Ryan Johnson, and Vinod Vaikuntanathan. Finally, I'd like to welcome our new staff members who have been arriving over 2011, including Leanne Dawkins (Undergraduate Coordinator), Celeste Francis Esteves (Graduate Coordinator), Wah-Ming Wong (FSS), and Sarah Lavoie (Main Office Reception). We're excited to have all of you here! (And welcome back to Leanne, Wah-Ming, and Sarah!)
There are also new faces in the Chair's Office. Sheila McIlraith is our new Vice Chair, Aaron Hertzmann is our new Associate Chair, Graduate Studies, Karen Reid is our new Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies (since last January), and Gerald Penn is our new Associate Chair, Research and Industrial Relations. I can't tell you how excited I am to work with these individuals in the coming years. They bring a wealth of experience, talent, and commitment to the Chair's Office.
Farewell to Those Who Have Left DCS
Some old friends and valued colleagues have recently retired or moved on from DCS. Linda Chow (Graduate Program Assistant), Donna George (Undergraduate Coordinator), Winnie Green (Main Office Reception), Hana Lee (Undergraduate Assistant), Elizabeth Ribeiro (Administrative & Financial Assistant - Theory), and Julie Weedmark (Graduate Coordinator); all retired or moved to other positions at the University this year, after many collective years of dedicated service to our department. And Professor Ryan Lilien has pursued an exciting industrial research opportunity in New England. On behalf of the entire department, I'd like to thank all these individuals for all they've given us, and wish them all the best in the future.
Exciting Changes to Spaces and Programs
Exciting things are happening around the department as I speak. For example, we're putting the finishing touches on a new CFI-funded renovation of the Bahen in support of research in digital media. We have some spectacular new labs and spaces, and once the dust settles, we'll hold an open house so everyone can see the new space themselves. Our Professional Masters program is ramping up with 11 new students enrolling this Fall -- that's almost twice the size of last year's (inaugural) class. And last but not least, our Undergraduate Office is launching our new undergraduate program (concentrations) this Fall, a change that has sparked excitement around the university.
Awards Announcements and Upcoming Events
Our faculty, staff, and students continue to win prestigious awards. Since our last departmental update, four of our faculty have received a prestigious Discovery Accelerator Supplement (DAS), including: 1) Aaron Hertzmann - for his work in "Modeling human locomotion control"; 2) Kyros Kutulakos - for his work in "Foundations of computational photography and videography"; 3) Karan Singh - for his work in "Sculpt and sketch interfaces for 3D modeling"; and 4) Daniel Wigdor - for his work in "User interface feedforward and feedback supporting and enabling body tracking technologies." And Yashar Ganjali received the Province of Ontario Early Researcher Award (ERA) for his work on "network management for next generation Internet." Congratulations to all these individuals.
We've lined up an exciting set of speakers for the Fall. In our Distinguished Lecture Series (DLS), we will be hosting Saul Greenberg on Sept. 20 and Alon Halevy on Oct. 11. I'm also pleased to announce that Craig Mundie, Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer will visit DCS and give a talk on Oct. 6. See information about these visits and more here.
Finally, let me take this opportunity to say how excited I am to begin my four-year term as Chair. I feel incredibly fortunate to work with such a talented and committed cohort of senior staff, admin and tech staff, faculty, and students. Together, I'm confident that we'll seize every opportunity to move the department forward and help strengthen its position as one of the top CS departments in the world.