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Baral to chair Department of Computer Science and Engineering

June 11, 2008

Attracting top high school students and undergraduates to the world of computer technology innovation is high on the priority list of professor Chitta Baral, as he takes on his new role as chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the School of Computing and Informatics.

The school is part of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

“Sometimes it’s difficult for high school students to distinguish between computers and computer science,” Baral says. “They’re seeing computers only from a user’s perspective, but not seeing everything that is behind the technology that enables computers to do all the things that they can do today.”

In addition to an outreach program aimed at high schoolers, Baral plans for his department to develop an introductory course for undergraduates designed to make students aware “of all the top-notch discoveries and inventions in computer science” to pique their interest in majoring in the field.

“There are so many interesting and exciting challenges,” he says. “It’s not just stereotypical programming. It’s about making computers smarter, designing better graphics, creating the next Google or There are so many lucrative career options to consider.”

Baral, who earned a doctorate in computer science from the University of Maryland in 1991, came to ASU in 1999 after about eight years on the faculty of the University of Texas-El Paso.

During that time, he also was a visiting scientist at i2 Technologies in Dallas, and a visiting faculty member in the computer and information science department at Linkoping University in Sweden. He has been a consultant to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix.

Baral is the author of a textbook on knowledge representation and reasoning. His research involves studying biologists’ knowledge of cell behavior, looking at cell signaling and gene-protein interactions and examining various kinds of reasoning used for determining the side effects of drugs, explaining abnormal cell behavior and designing drug therapy.

He has done research in bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, logic programming and cognitive robotics. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research and an editor of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Transactions of Computational Logic.

Baral has been a recipient of prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) awards – the NSF Career Award and the NSF Research Initiation Award – and finished in first place in the 1997 American Association for Artificial Intelligence robot contest.

In addition to NSF funding, his research has been supported by NASA, the Office of Naval Research and Science Foundation Arizona.

“An accomplished and forward-thinking scholar and researcher such as Chitta Baral is someone who can take us to the next level in computer science and computer engineering education,” says Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the School of Computing and Informatics.

Emily Falkner,
(480) 965-3190
Ira. A Fulton School of Engineering