[PAST EVENT] CS Distinguished Speaker Series: On being an applied computer scientist

November 18, 2014
On being an applied computer scientist

Gregary Abowd, Georgia Tech

A Computer Science researcher who seeks to apply technological solutions to situations in the everyday world faces several challenges. The majority of these challenges stem from the balancing act between the need as researchers to advance knowledge in an academic discipline and the desire to make (or be perceived as making) a contribution in the application domain. In this talk, I will describe through a set of examples how this balancing act can play out in the career of a computer scientist. My examples will draw from my own research experience, in which I have attempted to apply the technologies of computing's third generation, ubiquitous computing, to opportunities ranging from education to domestic life to health. My goal is to motivate researchers at all levels to unleash the passion to seek computing solutions to meaningful problems of life without having to sacrifice the rigor and advancement of serious computer science research.


Gregory D. Abowd is a Regents' and Distinguished Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, where he has been on the faculty since 1994. His research interests concern how the advanced information technologies of ubiquitous computing (or ubicomp) impact our everyday lives when they are seamlessly integrated into our living spaces. Dr. Abowd's work has involved schools (Classroom 2000) and homes (The Aware Home), with a recent focus on health and particularly autism. Dr. Abowd received the degree of B.S. in Honors Mathematics in 1986 from the University of Notre Dame. He then attended the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, earning the degrees of M.Sc. (1987) and D.Phil. (1991) in Computation from the Programming Research Group in the Computing Laboratory. From 1989-1992 he was a Research Associate/Postdoc with the Human-Computer Interaction Group in the Department of Computer Science at the University of York in England. From 1992-1994, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Software Engineering Institute and the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. He has graduated 22 PhD students who have gone on to a variety of successful careers in academia and industry He is an ACM Fellow, a member of the CHI Academy and recipient of the SIGCHI Social Impact Award and ACM Eugene Lawler Humanitarian Award. Dr. Abowd has been involved in 5 commercial start-up ventures in his career, several of which are still active. He is also the founder and President of the Atlanta Autism Consortium, a non-profit devoted to bridging the communication gaps between various stakeholder communities in the Atlanta area concerned with serving and understanding autism.