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Luay Nakhleh, new computer science chair

January 6, 2017

Luay Nakhleh, Chair of the Computer Science Department at Rice University On January 1, 2017, Luay Nakhleh joined a prestigious group of researchers who have served as chair of the computer science department at Rice University.

Nakhleh, professor of computer science (CS) and of biosciences, has actively engaged with Rice undergraduate and graduate students in both teaching and research since 2004. He received an NSF CAREER award in his fifth year as a faculty member at Rice, followed closely by a Sloan research fellowship in 2010 and a Guggenheim fellowship in 2012.

He was also a co-winner of the first Teaching and Research Excellence Award from the George R. Brown School of Engineering in 2015, and was appointed Associate Chair of the computer science department in Fall 2016. His research focuses on developing new methodologies and software to analyze the evolutionary history of both specific genes and entire genomes, and the genetic links between species.

"I and the entire department owe Vivek a debt of gratitude for his energetic leadership of the department for the last three and a half years," said Nakhleh. "We now have the largest major on campus, a very large and successful professional Masters program, and a very active PhD student body. Vivek had a direct role in all of this. I am honored to succeed Vivek as chair, and very excited about the future of the department. I look forward to building on the success of the department, establishing collaborations with new partners, and positioning our department to play a key role in the success of the Data Science Initiative at Rice."

Vivek Sarkar, the E.D. Butcher Chair in Engineering at Rice, said, "It has been a privilege for me to have served as CS department chair for three and a half years, and to share in our energizing growth during this period along both education and research dimensions. Luay is eminently qualified to take over as our next department chair, and I am confident that the department will continue to flourish under his leadership."

Sarkar began his term as department chair in July 2013 while continuing to manage the largest research group in the department. His lab (known as the Habanero Extreme Scale Software group) includes 13 graduate students, three postdoctoral fellows, and four research scientists.  He also serves as a member of the US Department of Energy's Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC), and on the Computing Research Association (CRA)'s Board of Directors.