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Professor Pollack named dean of U-M School of Information

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Martha Pollack, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, has been named dean of the University of Michigan School of Information, effective Aug. 1.

The announcement May 2 by President Mary Sue Coleman and Provost Teresa Sullivan followed review by and discussion with the Board of Regents Personnel, Compensation and Governance Committee, and is pending approval by the full board.

"President Coleman and I are extremely pleased that Dr. Pollack is assuming the helm of the School of Information at this time of dramatic change within information resources and technology," Sullivan said. "We are confident that she will provide impressive leadership for the school; strengthening its international reputation of excellence in providing innovative education for the next generation of library science and information professionals."

Pollack joined the College of Engineering in 2000 and since 2004 has served as associate chair for computer science and engineering, a division with 40 faculty and approximately $11 million in sponsored research activities.

She earned her A.B. degree summa cum laude with highest distinction in linguistics in 1979 from Dartmouth College, and her Master's of Science in Engineering and doctorate degrees in computer and information science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984 and 1986, respectively.

Pollack's research focuses on using information and computing to improve quality of life. Her recent work has focused on developing applied technologies for people with cognitive impairment so that they can live more autonomously, and she has collaborated with colleagues in the Medical School on developing tools for this purpose.

One such tool is the autominder system that can help the elderly or people with brain trauma perform tasks and navigate their surroundings. The software, currently under development, uses artificial intelligence to go beyond an alarm-style reminder of tasks to monitor them and assure proper compliance.

Her research is driven by a desire to use information technology to achieve societal impact?a goal that Sullivan says is in alignment with the School of Information mission to "bring information, technology, and people together in more valuable ways."

"SI is a recognized leader in innovative and interdisciplinary programs that address the challenges and opportunities of the information revolution," Pollack said. "Its education, research, and service activities speak to problems that are critical to the state of Michigan, the nation and the world.

"SI has outstanding faculty, staff and students and I'm looking forward to working with them to build on the school's enormous strengths and make good on the promise of its first 10 years."

One opportunity ahead for SI is the move to the North Quad Residential and Academic Complex, scheduled for completion in 2010. SI faculty and four LSA communications-related programs will be housed in the unique facility that will provide classrooms, studios and offices, as well as residential space in a technology-rich environment where the lines between living and learning will blur.

Pollack has been active with a number of organizations. She was elected a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence in 1996, and was a recipient of the Computers and Thought Award (1991). Honors also include a National Science Foundation (NSF) Young Investigator's Award (1992), and the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award (2000). She recently was appointed to the NSF Advisory Committee for the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) division, and is a senior fellow with the Michigan Society of Fellows.

She serves on the board of directors of the Computing Research Association, an organization of more than 200 North American academic departments of computer science, computer engineering and information.

The first woman to chair the department of Computer Science and Engineering, Pollack is a champion of diversity in science and technology, and has been actively involved in the NSF ADVANCE Project at the University as a member of the STRIDE (Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence) committee.

Pollack recently was honored with a 2007 Sarah Goddard Power Award for her contributions to the betterment of women at U-M and globally.

Prior to coming to U-M, Pollack spent nine years at the University of Pittsburgh with a joint appointment in the Department of Computer Science and the Intelligent Systems Program, and six years as a senior researcher and computer scientist in the Artificial Intelligence Center at SRI International.

She has published more than 75 journal articles and conference papers, and has presented a number of talks worldwide.

Pollack was program chair for the 15th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, and is or has been on the editorial boards of the Artificial Intelligence Journal, AI Magazine, the Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, and Computational Linguistics, and was editor-in chief of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, 2001-2005.