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K. Selçuk Candan's prolific career earns 2023 Jankowski Legacy Award


K. Selcuk Candan poses near students working in cubicles.

K. Selçuk Candan is the 2023 recipient of the Daniel Jankowski Legacy Award, one of the highest honors given to faculty of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Photo by Erika Gronek/ASU

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June 13, 2023

K. Selçuk Candan, a professor of computer science and engineering at Arizona State University, is a celebrated researcher and highly regarded professor, colleague and collaborator.

Among the many other notable achievements throughout his 25-year tenure in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Candan has been selected as the 2023 recipient of the Daniel Jankowski Legacy Award, a top honor recognizing professors for their exceptional commitment to their field and higher education.

The award is one of the highest distinctions for ASU engineering faculty, awarded for unparalleled contributions to education, research and service alongside a long-standing and demonstrated commitment to advancing the mission and values of the Fulton Schools.

“Selçuk has established himself as a role model in our school, building a lasting legacy of leadership, teamwork and mentorship among his peers,” said Ross Maciejewski, a professor of computer science and director of the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, part of the Fulton Schools. “His commitment to his colleagues, his students and to advancing the engineering field is unmatched.”

Career highlights

Candan is well known among his peers in the data science community, particularly in the areas of management and analysis of nontraditional, heterogeneous and imprecise data, which includes multimedia, web and scientific data. He has published over 200 journal and peer-reviewed conference articles, 10 patents, one textbook and 20 book chapters and edited more than 10 proceedings throughout his tenure at ASU.

He has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on numerous research grants while conducting research for the National Science Foundation (NSF); Department of Energy; Department of Defense; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the Air Force Office of Scientific Research; the Army Research Office; the Mellon Foundation; and various industrial partners. Candan has earned 27 NSF grants totaling $11.6 million and was the principal investigator for 14 of the projects. He has earned 61 grants throughout his tenure, totaling $34 million in funding.

“Throughout the 23 years I’ve known him, Selçuk has consistently demonstrated an exceptional passion for teaching, a steadfast commitment to his students and industrious service to the engineering field,” said Huan Liu, an ASU Regents Professor of computer science who nominated Candan for the honor.

Real-world applications

Candan is also the founding director of ASU’s Center for Assured and Scalable Data Engineering, or CASCADE, where he works with a team to develop novel tools and architectures for reliable and timely data-driven decision-making. This benefits industries like energy, health care, security and finance.

Among his many research projects, Candan is currently working on an NSF-funded pandemic preparedness project. Using effective and data-driven technologies, he is modeling epidemics to help scientists better prepare for future pandemics. Simultaneously, in another NSF project, Candan is collaborating with civil engineers to build energy optimization and fault detection models to improve building operations.

“Being able to process data at scale in such a way that you can train machine learning models is something that excites me about this field,” he sad. “A big priority with today’s consumers is also to find ways to make sure that every component of data, including processing, query, indexing and other related operations, can be trusted and usable.”

Other ongoing projects include collaborating to develop solutions to address water sustainability challenges, collaborating with Phoenix Children’s Hospital to help advance early detection of seizures in children who have brain trauma, helping to better identify intracranial pressure without invasive operations, and working with the Hospital for Special Surgery to develop computational techniques to objectively assess surgical outcomes.

“The amazing thing about working in data science is that I can apply my work to many different areas with real-world applications. I don’t have to be an expert in civil engineering, hydrology or brain trauma to be able to have an impact on advancing this research,” Candan said.

Candan has also recently been honored by the Special Interest Group on Management of Data, or SIGMOD, of the Association for Computer Machinery, or ACM, with their 2023 Contributions Award. Given annually, the award recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of database systems, including through research funding, education and professional service.

Exemplary leadership

Candan’s reputation of leadership and commitment also led him to be selected by Kyle Squires, ASU vice provost for engineering, computing and technology and dean of the Fulton Schools, to serve as interim co-director for the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence with Teresa Wu, a professor of industrial engineering, during the 2022–23 academic year.

“I have the highest amount of respect for his commitment to bettering our school, which I got to experience firsthand during this time,” Wu said. “He’s very well rounded in his teaching, leadership and research roles and willing to make sacrifices to prioritize the needs of our school.”

In addition to his formal leadership roles, Candan is a devoted mentor to colleagues and students. Jia Zou, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering, notes that even before Candan’s time as interim co-director, he was vocal about the needs of faculty members and has assisted in making lasting improvements to the school.

“As a junior faculty member, I’ve really appreciated his hands-on approach in advocating for junior faculty and helping set us up for success early in our careers,” Zou said.

Equally committed to his students, Candan has guided 16 ASU doctoral students and 35 graduate students through their work toward graduation.

His dedication to students has been recognized through three Fulton Engineering Best Teacher awards and four Top 5% of Faculty in the Fulton Schools awards. Candan was also selected as a Fulton Faculty Exemplar in 2014 and 2018.

The Jankowski Legacy Award, given every other year, was established to honor the late Professor Daniel Jankowski’s distinguished 40-year academic career at ASU. Jankowski started his career with ASU in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, which later became the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Throughout his career, he encouraged academic rigor among his students and supported them throughout their journeys. Jankowski, who retired in 2004, died in November 2020.

“I got the opportunity to know Daniel when I joined ASU’s College of Engineering in 1997, which makes receiving this award even more special,” Candan said. “There are a lot of faculty members who do amazing work who I think are equally deserving of this award, so I am honored to be recognized.”

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