Experts on human-centered computing are coming to UF

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In an effort to become a national leader in making computers more secure and more personalized to individual needs, the University of Florida has recruited a team of computer scientists with specialties in what’s known as human-centered computing.

Four faculty members, recruited from the same department at Clemson University, will join UF’s College of Engineering’s Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering, known as CISE. Their team’s “cluster” hire fits into strategies at the college and university levels to expand research into several key areas over the next year.

“As our relationship with technology becomes more pervasive, comfortable interfaces between humans and computers become more important,” said Paul Gader, chair of the CISE department. “Human-centered computing is the frontier where computers begin to recognize what makes each of us unique, and then adapt to offer each of us a more personalized experience. Bringing this team on board will make UF a leader in ensuring greater accessibility for all human-computer interactions. ”

Juan Gilbert, Damon Woodard, Kyla McMullen and Christina Gardner-McCune will arrive with a variety of research accomplishments and interests:

  • Gilbert is currently the chair of Clemson’s human-centered computing, or HCC, division. He and his team gained national recognition when they developed the technology to make voting more accessible and secure. His electronic voting interface has created a new standard for universal accessibility in elections. Gilbert will be the Andrew Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Chair at UF.
  • Woodard is an expert in biometrics, or identity technology. His work with the U.S. intelligence community includes periocular-based and tightly coupled face/iris recognition systems. The main focus of his current work is the development of techniques that allow machines to establish an individual’s identity even when using lower quality or incomplete data.
  • McMullen specializes in virtual spatial audio, which allows a listener to hear a sound over headphones as though it were coming from a specific point in their immediate environment. She is interested in using this rendering to create more immersive virtual environments, develop assistive technology for persons with visual impairments, and to sonify trends in Big Data.
  • Gardner-McCune is a computer science education researcher. She develops interest- and discipline-based computing curriculum and after-school and summer camp programming to encourage K-12 students to enter STEM-related careers. She is currently serving on the College Board’s development committee for the new Advance Placement Computer Science Principles Exam.

The team will bring millions of dollars in federal grants to UF and more than a dozen doctoral students. They will be joining CISE’s growing HCC team that currently includes Benjamin Lok – who developed the technology behind local adaptive learning startup Shadow Health – and Lisa Anthony and Eakta Jain, both recent doctoral graduates from Carnegie Mellon University who came to UF this year.

“If your quality of life has been enhanced by a technology, human-centered computing is probably the reason,” said Cammy Abernathy, dean of UF’s College of Engineering. “This team has an excellent reputation for their revolutionary research, their collaboration across disciplines, and their wide focus that includes the needs of all members of society. Their addition positions us to have a new center of excellence. We are thrilled to have them.”

“In addition to this team, CISE is hiring new faculty in areas of Big Data, cyber security, and social networks,” Gader said. “Our mission in the department is to improve quality life and we’re definitely headed in the right direction.”

Additional story on the hires at Diverse:Issues in Higher Education