Rice computer science professor Chris Jermaine has been named the new permanent chair of the Department of Computer Science after serving as interim chair since January 1, 2021. Jermaine succeeds Luay Nakhleh in this position, who was promoted to become the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of the university’s George R. Brown School of Engineering.
Jermaine is currently program director of Rice’s Data Science Initiative but will step down from that position effective July 1, 2021.
In making the announcement, Dean Nakhleh commended Jermaine on his dedication to teaching, service and research and said, “I am excited to be working with Chris on further strengthening computer science and seeing how we can all take it to the next level. Chris’ emphasis on research — having a large active group and repeatedly focusing on putting together large-scale proposals — is key for me.”
“It’s exciting to take over the Department during a time of unprecedented growth,” Jermaine says. “The Department will hire many new tenure track faculty over the next few years, including three this year.”
“As we pass 40 total faculty and start up new programs such as the Master of Data Science, a priority needs to be coordinating our offerings and make sure we're serving the needs of our students,” he adds. “A second priority is redoubling our focus on research. As we grow, we will have the size and personnel to successfully vie for very large institute- and center-level research projects, and we need to compete hard when such opportunities arise.”
Jermaine's own research focuses on data analytics, with an emphasis on analyzing, storing, retrieving and manipulating large and heterogeneous data sets. Among his interests are systems-oriented problems that arise when building software to manage large and diverse data sets and the difficulties resulting from applying statistical methods to such data sets.
He earned a B.A. in mathematics from the University of California at San Diego in 1994, an M.S. in computer science from Ohio State University in 1997 and a Ph.D. in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2002. He joined the Rice faculty in 2009, after teaching computer science for six years at the University of Florida at Gainesville.
Jermaine is the recipient of a 2008 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, a National Science Foundation CAREER award, and the George R. Brown School's Teaching & Research Excellence Award. He has received best paper/best paper runner-up awards from top journals/conferences in data mining and data management, including IEEE ICDE, ACM SIGMOD, ACM SIGKDD, and VLDB.
He serves as editor-in-chief of ACM Transactions on Database Systems, the Association for Computing Machinery’s flagship journal for data management research.
“Managing all of this is going to be a challenge, but it's also an opportunity to set the Department on the right trajectory for the next decade and beyond," he says.