Vivek Sarkar, the E.D. Butcher Chair in Engineering at Rice University, and professor of computer science, will become the new chair of that department on July 1.
"One of my goals as chair will be to increase the external visibility of our department’s achievements in teaching and research," Sarkar said. “We can do this through multiple channels, including our industry sponsors, research collaborators, alumni community, and our growing presence in online education.” Sarkar joined the Rice faculty in 2007 and is also associate director of the NSF Expeditions Center for Domain-Specific Computing.
The outgoing department chair is Professor Joe Warren, who has served in that position since 2008. "Thanks go to Joe Warren for his five years of leadership at the helm of computer science. His successor has plenty of senior leadership experience at IBM Watson labs. Vivek is well respected for his personal research and his ability to bring teams of people together to accomplish great things," said Edwin L. "Ned" Thomas, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering.
For 20 years Sarkar worked for IBM, where his final position before coming to Rice was as senior manager of programming technologies at the T.J. Watson Research Center, and team lead for programming models and tools in IBM’s DARPA-funded PERCS project for high-productivity parallel computing. Sarkar became a member of the IBM Academy of Technology in 1995 and a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in 2008. He has also been a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee since 2009.
"Leading-edge skills in computer science at the undergraduate, master’s, and PhD levels are in high demand. Historically, Rice is well-known for the quality of its computer science graduates, and that is a record I wish to continue," Sarkar said. "The number of CS undergraduate majors is rising and we have more professional master’s students than ever before."
In 2012, Sarkar was co-recipient of the ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages Software Award for his contributions to the Jikes Research Virtual Machine (RVM). SIGPLAN is a Special Interest Group within the ACM that focuses on programming languages. The award honors researchers who develop software that makes "a significant impact on programming language research, implementations, and tools."
Jikes RVM started as the Jalapeño project at IBM Research in 1997. Sarkar led the IBM team that evolved Jalapeño into the Jikes RVM open source release in 2001. When Sarkar joined Rice in 2007, he named his lab the Habanero Multicore Software Research group. “Habanero is a hotter pepper than Jalapeño, and there is room for even hotter projects in the future,” he said.
Sarkar graduated with a bachelor of technology degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India, in 1981. The following year he earned a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in 1987 a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer systems from Stanford University.
John L. Hennessy, Sarkar’s doctoral adviser, the Willard R. and Inez Kerr Bell Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from 1987 to 2004, and now president of Stanford University, said:
"I’ve had the opportunity to observe Vivek since his days as a graduate student. He has shown himself to be a creative researcher, a dedicated teacher and an effective leader. I’m sure he’ll make an excellent chair for the distinguished computer science department at Rice." Sarkar said: “Another one of my goals is to use this opportunity to show the rest of the Rice campus how computer science can help them in their academic achievements. Computers and computing are an integral part of our lives today. By their very nature, computer science and engineering are multidisciplinary and cross all human endeavors."
– Patrick Kurp, Engineering Communications
July 01, 2013