woman standing with plato computer

child with computer

50 Years of Public Computing

at the University of Illinois


50 Years of Public Computing at the University of Illinois

April 15 - 16, 2010
Alice Campbell Alumni Center
601 S Lincoln Ave, Urbana IL

Biographies of Panelists

Abdul Alkalimat

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Abdul Alkalimat is Professor of Library and Information Science and Afro-American Stiudies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. An expert on the digital divide and the African American experience in cyberspace, he was most recently a professor of sociology and director of the Africana Studies program at the University of Toledo. He moderates the largest African-American Studies discussion list, H-Afro-Am, and created and edits Malcolm X: A Research Site as well as eBlack Studies He is the author of The African American Experience In Cyberspace: A Resource Guide to the Best Web Sites on Black Culture & History, Black Power in Chicago: Harold Washington and the Crisis of the Black Middle Class: Mass Protest, and Malcolm X for Beginners.

Imani Bazzell

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Imani Bazzell has worked as a community educator and organizer in the areas of racial justice, gender justice, healthcare access, educational reform, and leadership development for over thirty years. She is the founder and director of SisterNet, a local network of African American women committed to the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual health of Black women. In addition to her responsibilities as director of At Promise…of Success, a collaboration between the Champaign Public Schools, the Community Academic Support Network and the University of Illinois dedicated to increasing the numbers of African American students engaging the secondary rigorous curriculum and prepared to attend the college of their choice, she serves as an independent consultant with public schools, colleges and universities, unions, non-profits, state and international agencies, and community-based organizations to promote organizational development and social justice.

Brian Bell

After 4 years at Southern Illinois University in law enforcement and security management Brian Bell worked in the private security field with a specialization in information technology. He is now project coordinator and part time faculty at Parkland Community College, Champaign, IL, specializing in computer literacy as coordinator of an NSF and Illinois Department of Commerce Digital Divide grant. He operates Parkland’s Illinois WorkNet Center for service to the unemployed and teaches multiple sections of Operating systems/Basic PC Maintenance and Introduction to Networking, all in the Computer Science and Information Technology Department. Brian also worked at Don Moyers Boys and Girls Club developing and teaching, Crossroads Community Church developing computer curriculum at the middle school level, and Urban League of Champaign-Urbana where he set up and coordinated a community technology center.

Ann Bishop

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Ann Bishop is co-director of the Community Informatics Initiative and an associate professor at GSLIS. Her research interests include social justice in the information professions; participatory action research in LIS; the scholarship of engagement; and community informatics. Bishop has been integral in the development of a community informatics specialization at GSLIS; she has cultivated a fruitful research relationship with the Paseo Boricua neighborhood in Chicago; and in 1993, along with colleague Greg Newby, established the first free public Internet access in Champaign–Prairienet. She is also associate editor for the Journal of Community Informatics and her recent publications include co-authored "New Literacies and Community Inquiry" in The Handbook of Research in New Literacies (2007) and "Community Inquiry" in Liberating Voices! A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution (2008).

Donald L. Bitzer

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Donald L. Bitzer received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1960. He was professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois from 1960 to 1989 when he retired to become a Distinguished University Research Professor in the Computer Science Department at North Carolina State University.


Bitzer's work has involved applying signal processing and coding theory to a variety of areas from radar signals and speech processing to the development of software and hardware required for large computer networks. The large educational computer systems "PLATO" and "NovaNet" are results of this research. His research led to the intelligent modems for telephone lines and cable systems as well as the flat plasma display panel now being used for television. More recently his research has been directed toward using signal processing and coding theory to look for genomic information that controls the translation process in protein production. He has been granted numerous patents in the computer and electronic areas.


Bitzer has been a member of the National Academy of Engineering since 1974. He is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education (since 1974), a Fellow in the American Association for Advancement of Science (since 1983), a Fellow in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (since 1976), a Fellow in the Association for Development of Computer Based Instructional systems (since 1986), and a Fellow of the International Engineering Consortium (since 1984).


Bitzer has received numerous awards and recognitions. In 1967 he received the Industrial Research 100 Award, and in 1973 he received the prestigious Vladimir K. Zworkin Award of the National Academy of Engineering for “outstanding achievement in the field of electronics applied in the service of mankind.” In 1982 he was named Laureate of the Lincoln Academy by the State of Illinois for contributions made “for the betterment of human endeavor.” In 2002 he received the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Emmy Award for Scientific Development and Technical Achievement for his invention and development of plasma displays. The College of Engineering at the University of Illinois awarded him with the Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2004. In 2006 he was inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.

Michael B. Bragg

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Michael B. Bragg is professor and executive associate dean for academic affairs, College of Engineering. Professor Bragg has been involved in national and international technical activities. He is a past chair of the Society of Automotive Engineers Aircraft Icing Technology Committee and has served on four AIAA national technical committees including as chair of the Applied Aerodynamics Technical Committee. Professor Bragg received the 1998 Losey Atmospheric Science Award from the AIAA for his research in aircraft icing and was named an AIAA Fellow in 2004. He has received the College of Engineering Research Award from Ohio State University and the Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award from the Aerospace Engineering (AE) Department at Illinois. Dr. Bragg's primary expertise is in the field of aircraft icing and his research in this field has been supported by NASA Glenn Research Center, the FAA, and other federal agencies and companies since 1980. Professor Bragg is a consultant for several US companies on matters concerning aircraft icing and serves on the FAA REDAC (Research, Engineering and Development Advisory Committee), the Board of Visitors to the Air Force Institute of Technology, and other advisory committees. He teaches aerodynamics and flight mechanics and has received the AE Department's Teacher of the Year Award, been on the university's "Incomplete List of Teachers Rated as Excellent by Their Students," and in 2004 received the Stanley Pierce Award from the College of Engineering. Professor Bragg served as head of the AE Department at Illinois from 1999 to 2006.


Professor Bragg's two primary areas of research are aircraft icing and unsteady aerodynamics. Both of these areas involve the study of unsteady and highly separated fluid flows. Much of this research is conducted in the wind tunnels of the Aerodynamics Research Laboratory, which Dr. Bragg co-directs. The effect of ice accretion and other surface contaminants on the aerodynamic performance of aircraft has been a long-term interest of Professor Bragg’s. His research has provided insight into the relationship between airfoil design and performance loss, the physics of iced airfoils and the detailed flowfield, proper simulation of iced airfoils, and aircraft in icing flight safety. His group has provided PIV and many other measurement techniques to explore the flowfields on iced airfoils and high-performance vehicles. Recently, Professor Bragg and colleagues have developed the concept coined “smart icing systems” that can sense ice accretion including performance and control changes, modify the flight envelope, and, if necessary, adapt flight control in a method consistent with pilot-automation coordination.

Peter Braunfeld

Peter Braunfeld received his Ph.D in mathematics (abstract algebra) from the University of Illinois in 1959. For thirty eight years, he was a member of the University of Illinois (UIUC) faculty, retiring in 1997 with the rank of full professor, both in mathematics and in education. He has worked in a wide variety of areas in mathematics education and development, including: grades 7 -16 curriculum development; pre- and in-service teacher training; and educational technology.


Major contributions include his work in the middle sixties as co-creator of PLATO —one of the earliest computer-based teaching systems. He was also chief author of Stretchers and Shrinkers, a 7th grade mathematics text that aroused national and international attention, both for its unusual mathematics content, and its pedagogical innovations (1969).


He has published numerous articles in professional journals (both in the US and abroad). In addition to Stretchers and Shrinkers, he has written a variety of published materials for middle and high school mathematics. He has given hundreds of invited talks at symposia and national and international conferences, as well as in schools and universities (U.S. and abroad).


Over the years, he created, directed, and taught in over fifty professional development programs for teachers at UIUC, including NSF-supported Academic Year and Summer institutes for high school and college teachers (national outreach) and state-supported Summer Institutes for elementary and high school teachers (statewide outreach).


He has served as an advisor to numerous national curriculum projects, including: UICSM (University of Illinois); BUMP (University of Boston); CSMP (Carbondale, Illinois), Education Development Center (EDC) in Newton MA, Robert Moses' Algebra Project; MSTE (University of Illinois); etc.


From 1994 to 1996, he was a program director for mathematics education at the National Science Foundation (NSF). He has received awards from: the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (for outstanding contributions to math education); the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany) (visiting foreign scientist award); the University of Illinois (outstanding teacher award); Fulbright award (to teach and study in Germany)

Jack Brighton

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Jack Brighton is director of new media and innovation at Illinois Public Media, where he manages web development, online media, and information technology. He is a guest lecturer in the Department of Journalism and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, and presents workshops on Internet media, online journalism, media preservation, and web development at academic and media industry conferences. He chairs the News, Documentary, and Television Committee of the Association of Moving Image Archivists, co-chairs the AMIA Open Source Committee, and is past chair of the University of Illinois Webmasters Coordinating Group. He is the founder of the Educational Media Group at the University of Illinois, focusing on best practices in digital media for higher education. He also serves on the PBCore Resource Group, responsible for change management and user support for the PBCore metadata standard, and is the developer and site manager for pbcoreresources.org.

Jean Buck

Jean Buck is a graduate of GSLIS at the University of Illinois (class of 1991). She as worked at Wolfram Research for the past 19 years and is currently the Director of Computable Data Initiatives for the company, mananging the content development of Wolfram|Alpha.

Bill Cope

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Bill Cope is a research professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and an adjunct professor in the Globalism Institute at RMIT University, Melbourne. He is also a director of Common Ground Publishing, developing and applying new publishing technologies. He is a former first assistant secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. His research interests include theories and practices of pedagogy, cultural and linguistic diversity, and new technologies of representation and communication. He was research director then director of the Centre for Workplace Communication and Culture at the University of Technology, Sydney, and RMIT University, Melbourne. He was also involved in a joint Common Ground/ RMIT University research initiative, Creator to Consumer in a Digital Age, funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources. Amongst his recent publications are edited volumes on The Future of the Book in the Digital Age and The Future of the Academic Journal.

John Dunkelberger

John Dunkelberger has been the director of adult services at the Urbana Free Library since 1984, before which he served as head of reference. He is an adjunct lecturer in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, where he teaches the basic reference course. He has attended Kent State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Illinois, studying Slavic languages and literatures, mathematics, and library science. He earned his master’s degree from GSLIS in 1976.

Mary Ellen Farrell

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As a graduate student, Mary Ellen worked in the Automated Records Maintenance (ARM) division of the University of Illinois Library. She also contributed to the compilation of the FBR Manual in 1986. FBR was the full bibliographic record component associated with the LCS system, the electronic catalog then in use at the University and several other institutions throughout Illinois.


After a brief stint at the adult reference desk at the Champaign Public Library, she joined the staff of Illinois Library Computer Systems Organization (ILCSO) in 1988, as a library systems coordinator. That office merged with two other statewide library consortiums in 2005 to become the Consortium of Academic & Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) where she continues to work. CARLI serves over 98% of Illinois higher education students, faculty, and staff at 153 member institutions.


In 1993, Mary Ellen joined the board of trustees of the Urbana Free Library. That group oversaw the building expansion at UFL which was completed in 2005. At present, she serves as the UFL board president.

Theodore Gray

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Theodore Gray is an award-winning software developer, author, and popularizer of science. Having started out in chemistry, he joined Stephen Wolfram in 1987 in the creation of Mathematica. Gray pioneered the concept of Mathematica notebooks—which serve as the main interface to Mathematica, and have made possible the creation of millions of interactive computable documents. Ever since the founding of Wolfram Research, Gray has guided its user interface strategy, and has been responsible for a sequence of major innovations.


Over the years Gray has developed an independent interest in science writing and in communicating the excitement and importance of science to a wide audience. He is a Contributing Editor at Popular Science magazine, and has authored its Gray Matter column since 2003. The How 2.0 section containing Gray's column won a National Magazine Award in 2005, and Gray's column is a finalist for its own National Magazine Award for 2010.


Gray is the author of Mad Science: Experiments You Can Do at Home—But Probably Shouldn't, and of the best selling coffee table book The Elements, A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe, now the groundbreaking first product of The Touch Press. He is also the proprietor of periodictable.com and the creator of the iconic photographic periodic-table poster seen in universities, schools, museums, and on TV shows from MythBusters to Hannah Montana.

Lippold Haken

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Lippold Haken is member of the University of Illinois Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty where his specialty is in computer music. He invented the Continuum Fingerboard, a low-latency polyphonic touch-sensitive surface for expressive musical performance. Haken also developed novel real-time DSP algorithms for additive synthesis, sound morphing, granular synthesis, wavetable matching synthesis, fundamental frequency detection, pitch shifting, cross synthesis, linear predictive synthesis, formant oscillators, and other algorithms. Haken has a special interest in music notation tools for the blind. Haken currently teaches courses such as "Electronic Music," "Advanced Digital Systems Laboratory" and "Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering."


For 15 years, Haken was in charge of hardware development of NovaNET (PLATO), both at the University of Illinois and after it was transferred to the private sector. Dr. Haken developed specialized high-end communications equipment for education, and related network protocols and delivery performance monitoring systems. He was also leader of the hardware design group for the Zephyr, a quad-CPU ECL mainframe computer for large-scale networked education. This was one of the very few mainframe computers designed at any University in the last 30 years to see commercial service. After 15 million contact hours the Zephyr was retired and replaced by DEC 64-bit mainframes in 1994.

Frederick J. Halenar

Picture of Frederick J. Halenar

Fred Halenar is Information Technologies Director for the City of Champaign, where he has worked in IT since 1993. He is responsible for the planning, implementing, and maintaining technology for the city, including telecommunications, audio/visual, data technologies and applications; establishing and monitoring adherence to system procedures and standards; and overseeing the operation, maintenance, back up, and disaster recovery of technologies City-wide, as well as Responsible for policy related to telecommunications, data, web, CGTV (channel 5), project management, emergency planning, contracting services, and end-user support services. As Director, he supervises a staff of 9.45 full time equivalent employees.


Previously, he worked in progressively more responsible IT capacities, including associate dean, at Spoon River College. His background also includes data processing for the Town of Cicero and data processing instruction at Morton Community College. He is a graduate of Western Illinois University.


Fred is a member of the Illinois Geographic Information Systems Association (ILGISA) and he has served on the Illinois Geographic Information Council's (ILGIC) Leadership and Finance Committee (50 State's Initiative). ILGIC is a state legislated council that addresses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology statewide. For the last 7 years, Fred has served on the Advisory Board for the Illinois Digital Government Summit. Fred is also a Community Advisory Board Member for Project RESCUE, which is a National Science Foundation project that is funding the advancement of technology (focus on governments) to be better prepare and react to emergency situations. Fred is a member of the Policy Board for the Champaign County GIS Consortium. Fred also represents the City on various community committees that are formed to address technology matters.

Kathleen Harness

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Kathleen Harness has two degrees in music education from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and taught music for thirty-three years. She works on the EtoysIllinois.org project in the Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education at the University of Illinois and teaches elementary school enrichment. She has an abiding enthusiasm for theme and variations: musical, mathematical, and visual.

Michael Hart

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Michael Hart started Project Gutenberg just a few blocks from here at the Materials Research Lab on Goodwin, back on July 4, 1971 when he received his first official U of I computer account. He wanted to put something on the new Internet that would still be there 100 years later and it appears the choice was a good one, as Project Gutenberg's eBook of "The Declaration of Independence" is still there and has been downloaded by millions of people, along with a hundred thousand or so other eBooks, movies, music, and other materials. If imitation is the sincerest flattery, then this, "The Year of the eBook" as the pundits call it in 2010, is probably as good as such flattery gets, along with being copied by Google, Yahoo, Carnegie-Mellon and a host of other academic, corporate, national/international efforts that add a thousand eBooks a day to the Internet.

Brant Houston

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Brant Houston holds the Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting and teaches reporting in the College of Media. He came to Illinois after serving for a decade as executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a 4,000 member organization, and as a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He is author of Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide and The Investigative Reporter's Handbook. Before joining IRE, he was an award-winning investigative reporter at daily newspapers for seventeen years.

Mary Kalantzis

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Professor Mary Kalantzis is an Australian author and academic, who is dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. She has a deep interest in the development and history of multi-culturalism and the impact it has had on Australian society.

Paula Kaufman

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Paula Kaufman is the Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian. She assumed the position of University Librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign on September 7, 1999. She served as interim Chief Information Office at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from August 2006-May 2007. She previously served for 11 years as Dean of Libraries for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; prior to her tenure at Tennessee, she served at the Columbia University Libraries as Acting Vice President, Director of Academic Information Services, Director of Library Services, Acting Head of the East Asian Libraries, and Business and Economics Librarian. Dean Kaufman also has considerable experience in the private sector at McKinsey and Company and as partner and co-founder of Information for Business, an information industry service firm.


Dean Kaufman's business background, combined with her academic expertise, provides her with a unique understanding of the challenges the Library faces in an age of evolving information technologies. She has served the library profession as President (2001-2002) and Vice President (2000-2001) of the Association of Research Libraries, as Founding Board member (2005-present) of the Consortium of Academic Libraries in Illinois (CARLI), and as Chair (2006-present) and Vice Chair (2000-2006) of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). On campus, she currently serves as a Governing Board member for the Illinois Informatics Initiative, as Chair for the Transformative Learning Environment Committee of the Higher Education Accreditation Working Group, as a member of the Campus Leadership Development Committee, and as a member of the Provost’s Cabinet.

Ellen Knutson

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Ellen Knutson is a founding member of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center. Although no longer actively involved, during her five-year tenure she worked with the library, print, tech and outreach groups and served on the steering committee. She is currently a Chicago- based research associate of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation where she works with college and university faculty members who want to include elements of civic engagement in their teaching and research, and who want to encourage their students to become more civically engaged. She is also a visiting scholar at the Center for Civic Engagement at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where she is developing their engagement programs for graduate students. Ellen holds a Ph.D. in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dan Meredith

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As technologist for the Open Technology Initiative at the New America Foundation, Dan utilizes his background in developing open source and open standard technology solutions for organizational, community, and municipal networks to provide research on emerging hardware and software, provide support for allied public interest groups, along with disseminate and evaluate information contained in policy briefs and white papers.


Before joining New America, Dan was a software engineer for OJC Technologies. He is also a founding board member and senior network engineer of the CUWiN Foundation, the board secretary for the Acorn Active Media Foundation, founding member of the Open Source Wireless Coalition, and continues community work with the Independent Media Center (Indymedia).

Greg Newby

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Greg Newby received his undergraduate degree with majors in communication and psychology, and his master’s degree in communication, at the State University of New York at Albany. He originally studied mass media and organizational communication, but took a new focus after starting to make regular use of BITNET in the early 1980s and later, the Internet. Newby examined issues surrounding new electronic communication media use during his Ph.D. studies at Syracuse University. While at Syracuse, he developed a new virtual reality laboratory and worked on development of a visual interface to information space as part of his dissertation. After his Ph.D., Newby took a position on the faculty of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign from 1991-1997. He had a joint appointment as a senior research scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).


At the University of Illinois, Newby worked extensively to update the information technology curriculum and to integrate education of technological skills for all students. During this time, he founded Prairienet, a public-access community computing system. He was also given responsibility to develop a new technology-based distance education option for the MS degree at Illinois. He has written on information retrieval, human-computer interaction, electronic publishing, uses and norms for the Internet, and new technologies for business use. Newby has taught courses dealing with Internet use since 1988.


From 1997 to 2003, Newby was faculty member at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. His research interests there focused on information retrieval, information space, human-computer interaction, and impacts of new electronic media. His courses included "Information Security," "Distributed Systems and Administration," and "Internet Applications." Newby received a 3-year NSF grant to develop an information retrieval software toolkit for large-scale experimentation with World Wide Web, and supplemental grants to develop information retrieval applications related to national security.


Since May 2003, Newby has been a research faculty member at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His work there has focused on data-intensive computing, including information retrieval and access on computational grids. Other research areas are data mining and fusion, integration of large-scale systems, and manipulation and presentation of massive collections of text.


In spring 2005, Newby was appointed acting chief scientist of ARSC, and was permanently appointed chief scientist in spring 2007. In this role, he has been engaged in building scientific activities within ARSC, and shaping the future role of the Center for Computational Science. Major areas of distinction developed under his guidance include an extensive evaluation program for hardware acceleration and next generation technologies for high-performance computing. He has also worked to provide weather and air quality forecasts for Alaska, and added ARSC’s expertise in computational science to a new arctic climate model.


Newby is a member of the Open Grid Forum's (OGF) steering group, and is the standards editor for the OGF. In this capacity, he works with the Grid computing standards community to develop and publish documents.


Since 1991, Newby has worked with Project Gutenberg to create and distribute free electronic eBooks. In 2001, he took on the volunteer role as CEO of the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. Since that time, he has led Project Gutenberg in new collaborative work and new data types, supervised personnel, sought and received external funding, and worked to increase the size of the Project Gutenberg collection to over 16000 eBooks.


Newby has written or edited five books and over forty-five articles, has been the recipient of well over $1-million in research funding, and has an overarching goal of making information and information systems more useable and accessible to all persons.

Vanna Pianfetti

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Evangeline S. Pianfetti (Vanna) is the assistant dean for learning technologies in the College of Education at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is also a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education. Currently, she is the principal investigator for the I-LLINI Partnerships grant that aims to improve middle school student performances in core content area through the meaningful integration of technology. Vanna is a Smithsonian Laureate for classroom innovation in technology and a Gold Award winner in the ThinkQuest for Tomorrow’s Teachers competition for a technology-enriched curriculum she designed with teachers from Urbana Middle School.

Leonard Pitt

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Pitt received his B.S. degrees in mathematics and computer science at the University of Michigan, and his Ph.D. in computer science at Yale University. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, he joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in 1986, where he now holds the position of professor and director of undergraduate programs in computer science. His research spans several fields, from the theory of computation to machine learning, and he has published broadly in computational learning theory. He has received a variety of departmental, college, and campus awards for teaching, including the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Pitt has long been involved in bringing computer science to a larger audience. He has participated in numerous outreach activities, offering K-12 teacher workshops, running summer camps, and offering programming classes in Logo and Etoys from elementary school through university. He is an avid Etoys programmer.

Fred Schlipf

Fred Schlipf was executive director of the Urbana Free Library from 1974 to 2007. Named Illinois Librarian of the Year in 2000, Fred is also a library building consultant and professor emeritus in the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Michael K. Smeltzer

Michael K. Smeltzer is CITES’ Director of Networking and has been with CITES since March of 2005. Previously at CITES, Mike worked with the Campus Network Upgrade Project. Today he oversees all the networking units at CITES as well as the physical infrastructure group. He was the principal investigator behind the Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) Consortium’s successful $29.4 million grant proposal that was awarded by NTIA on February 1st. Mike came to CITES from McLeodUSA, where he was the local operations manager. In that capacity, he worked with the campus on a variety of voice and data projects. In addition to working in the communications industry, Mike has been a faculty member in both Illinois' College of Media and University High School, and was publisher and general manager of the Illini Media Company.

Marc Snir

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Professor Marc Snir is Michael Faiman and Saburo Muroga Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has a courtesy appointment in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. He is Associate Director for Extreme Scale Computing at NCSA, co-PI and Software Architect for the Petascale Blue Waters system and co-director of the Intel and Microsoft funded Universal Parallel Computing Research Center (UPCRC). He was head of the Computer Science Department from 2001 to 2007, started the Illinois Informatics Institute in 2007 and directed it until 2008. Marc Snir received a Ph.D. in mathematics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1979. He is AAAS Fellow, ACM Fellow, and IEEE Fellow. He has Erdos number 2 and is a mathematical descendant of Jacques Salomon Hadamard.

Steve Sonka

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Steven T. Sonka is the interim vice chancellor for Public Engagement at the University of Illinois, where he is responsible for enhancing the linkages between the university and its external clientele. The University’s extensive public engagement efforts build upon a tradition of faculty, staff, and student collaboration with external constituents to address needs in society and to enhance the university’s scholarly capabilities.


He is a professor of agricultural management in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and was the first to hold the Soybean Industry Chair in Agricultural Strategy. His University of Illinois administrative responsibilities have included being the first director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory, a multidisciplinary institution focused on furthering the effectiveness of soybean research; director of the Technology Research Initiative within the College of Business; and assistant dean for Strategy in the College of Ag, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. He joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1975.

Mary Wilkes Towner

Mary Wilkes Towner, M.A., M.S.LIS, is an adult services librarian at the Urbana (Illinois) Free Library. In addition, Mary is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science, where she teaches both on-campus and online versions of a course on adult popular literature.

John Unsworth

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In 2008, John Unsworth was named director of the Illinois Informatics Institute, a campuswide organization that serves to coordinate and encourage informatics-related education and research. He also continues to serve as dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, a post to which he was appointed in 2003. In addition to being a professor in GSLIS, he also holds appointments in the department of English, and on the Library faculty. During the previous ten years, from 1993-2003, he served as the first Director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, and a faculty member in the English Department, at the University of Virginia. For his work at IATH, he received the 2005 Richard W. Lyman Award from the National Humanities Center. He chaired the national commission that produced Our Cultural Commonwealth, the 2006 report on Cyberinfrastructure for Humanities and Social Science, on behalf of the American Council of Learned Societies, and he has supervised research projects across the disciplines in the humanities. He has also published widely on the topic of electronic scholarship, as well as co-directing one of nine national partnerships in the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure Preservation Program, and securing grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Getty Grant Program, IBM, Sun, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and others. His first faculty appointment was in English, at North Carolina State University, from 1989 to 1993. He attended Princeton University and Amherst College as an undergraduate, graduating from Amherst in 1981. He received a master’s degree in English from Boston University in 1982 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia in 1988. In 1990, at NCSU, he co-founded the first peer-reviewed electronic journal in the humanities, Postmodern Culture (now published by Johns Hopkins University Press, as part of Project Muse). He also organized, incorporated, and chaired the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium, co-chaired the Modern Language Association’s Committee on Scholarly Editions, and served as president of the Association for Computers and the Humanities and later as chair of the steering committee for the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations, as well as serving on many other editorial and advisory boards. Further information is at: http://www3.isrl.uiuc.edu/~unsworth/.

Terry Weech

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Terry Weech earned his master’s degree and his Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has taught at the University of Iowa, Emporia State (Kansas) University, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In 1980 he returned to join the faculty of the GSLIS. He has held positions at GSLIS of director of development, coordinator of advanced studies, and international liaison. He has been awarded four international Fulbright Senior Specialist grants, has lectured in more than fifteen European countries, and has served as chair of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Section of Education and Training and the Section of Library Theory and Research. His publications include research on competencies for digital librarianship and international equivalency and reciprocity of library and information science degrees. He teaches in the areas of economics of information, libraries and society, assessment and evaluation of services, research methods, library cooperation and networks, and global perspectives of librarianship.

Kate Williams

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Kate Williams received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her main research interest is in the relationship between social networks, social capital, and the use of information and communications technology, particularly in low-income communities. Recent publications include A Census of Public Computing in Toledo, Ohio (2004).

Stephen Wolfram

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Stephen Wolfram is a distinguished scientist, inventor, author, and business leader. He is the creator of Mathematica, the author of A New Kind of Science, the creator of Wolfram|Alpha, and the founder and CEO of Wolfram Research. His career has been characterized by a sequence of original and significant achievements.

ChengXiang Zhai

Picture of ChengXiang Zhai

ChengXiang Zhai is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he also holds a joint appointment at the Institute for Genomic Biology, Statistics, and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. He received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Nanjing University in 1990, and a Ph.D. in Language and Information Technologies from Carnegie Mellon University in 2002. He worked at Clairvoyance Corp. as a Research Scientist and, later, a Senior Research Scientist from 1997 to 2000. His research interests include information retrieval, text mining, natural language processing, machine learning, and bioinformatics. He serves on the editorial boards of ACM Transactions on Information Systems and Information Retrieval Journal, and is a program co-chair of ACM CIKM 2004 , NAACL HLT 2007, and ACM SIGIR 2009. He is an ACM Distinguished Scientist, and received the 2004 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the ACM SIGIR 2004 Best Paper Award, and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 2008.

Questions to lis-dev@illinois.edu.


University of Illinois Urban-Champaign