Professor Jim Hendler has been named the new head of the Department of Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Hendler is currently a senior constellation professor in the Tetherless World Constellation and program director of the Information Technology and Web Science (ITWS) program at Rensselaer. He will be stepping down from his leadership of the ITWS Program to assume the department head post.
“Dr. Hendler is a strong researcher, and a vital faculty leader, widely respected within Rensselaer and far beyond,” said School of Science Dean Laurie Leshin. “I am delighted to announce this appointment and am certain the department will attain even greater excellence under his leadership.”
Hendler joined Rensselaer in 2007 after two decades at the University of Maryland, where he served as director of the Joint Institute for Knowledge Discovery and co-director of the Maryland Information and Network Dynamics (MIND) Laboratory.
“I came to Rensselaer because it had a great computer science department with an amazing potential to become one of the new leaders in the field,” said Hendler.
“With some of the superstar hires of the past few years, the excitement in our department just continues to grow,” Hendler continued, pointing to Professor of Computer Science Fran Berman, Professor and Tetherless World Constellation Chair Deborah McGuiness, and James Myers, professor and director of the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovation. “In some of the hottest areas in computing, such as the data-, network- and Web- science fields, Rensselaer is on a roll. I am privileged to be head of such a talented group of researchers.”
The Computer Science Department at Rensselaer is renowned nationally and internationally for its work in areas such as bioinformatics, computational science and engineering, computer vision, database systems, networking, parallel computing, pervasive computing, robotics, semantic web, software design, and theoretical computer science. The department confers B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees, with enrollment currently at approximately 500 undergraduate and 100 graduate students.
Hendler’s own research seeks to expand the utility of the World Wide Web. He is widely recognized as one of the inventors of the semantic web, an extension of the World Wide Web that enables computers to interpret the meaning and context of words and numbers. This technology could be used to bring informative databases — from Internet business to basic biology research — to the Web in more searchable and usable ways, according to Hendler.
Hendler received a bachelor’s in computer science and artificial intelligence from Yale University, a master’s in cognitive psychology and human factors engineering from Southern Methodist University, and a master’s and doctorate in computer science and artificial intelligence from Brown University. He is a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the British Computer Society, the IEEE, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2002, Hendler was awarded a U.S. Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Medal. He is the first computer scientist to serve on the board of reviewing editors for Science and in 2010 he was named one of the 20 most innovative professors in America by Playboy magazine. Hendler also serves as an “Internet Web Expert” for the U.S. government, providing guidance to the Data.gov project.