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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2011 / 01 

Virginia Tech's Doug Bowman, Wu Feng named distinguished scientists

January 13, 2011

Doug Bowman (left) and Wu Feng
Doug Bowman (left) and Wu Feng

Doug Bowman and Wu Feng, both Virginia Tech associate professors of computer science, are two of 47 professionals worldwide to be recognized as a 2010 Distinguished Member by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

The distinguished member grade recognizes those members of the association with at least 15 years of professional experience and five years of continuous professional membership who have achieved significant accomplishments or who have made a significant impact on the computing field. This year, ACM named six distinguished engineers and 41 distinguished scientists, with Bowman and Feng being two of the noted scientists. 

Bowman is a member of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction. A 2003 National Science Foundation CAREER award recipient for his work in 3D interaction, he directs the 3D interaction group at Virginia Tech.  This research group focuses on the topics of three-dimensional user interface design and the benefits of working in virtual environments.

Bowman was the lead author of  “3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice.” This book, published in 2004, was the first to provide a comprehensive review of 3-D interaction research and applications. Today, 3-D user interfaces can be found in video games, mobile applications, and Hollywood film studios, and the basic design guidelines resulting from Bowman’s research are used to ensure that these interfaces are usable.

In 2010, Bowman advised a group of Virginia Tech computer science students who won first place in the 3D User Interface contest at the IEEE Symposium on 3-D user interfaces.  The team, called the Fighting Gobblers, participated in a contest requiring teams to develop a novel 3-D user interface for a difficult 3-D interaction task.  The four students and Bowman designed and implemented an interface for this task based entirely on commodity hardware found in Nintendo Wii controllers.  

Bowman’s work has also increased our understanding of virtual reality (VR) systems. His research on the effects of immersion (display fidelity) has provided empirical data to help answer the question, “What is immersive VR good for?” and has resulted in a systematic theoretical framework for describing and evaluating diverse VR technologies. This work has important practical implications, helping designers to choose the most effective VR technology for their applications.

Bowman received his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from Georgia Tech in 1997 and in 1999, respectively.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science in 1994 from Emory University. He started his career at Virginia Tech in 1999.

Feng is a member of the National Science Foundation's Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing and the Center for High-End Computing Systems (CHECS) at Virginia Tech.  He also directs the Synergy Laboratory, which conducts basic and applied research in high-performance computing at the synergistic intersection of systems software, middleware, tools, and applications software.  The overarching goal of his lab is to provide scientists and engineers with the computational tools and optimizations that enable them to concentrate on their science and engineering rather than on the computer science and engineering.  In addition, he holds an adjunct professorship appointment with the School of Medicine at Wake Forest University.

Feng’s past honors include being a three-time recipient of an R&D 100 Award, an award widely recognized as the "Oscars of Innovation.” He also won an Innovative Supercomputer Architecture Award for an energy-efficient supercomputer called “Green Destiny,” was listed on HPCwire’s Top People to Watch List in 2004, landed an International Storage Challenge Award for a patent-pending invention called “ParaMEDIC: Parallel Metadata Environment for Distributed I/O and Computing,” and won the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) Intellectual Property to Market (IP2M) competition in 2008 for EcoDaemon, a software artifact that will save data centers millions of dollars in energy costs. Beyond the energy savings, the solution improves the reliability and useful life of a computer in the data center by reducing the core temperature, thus providing an opportunity to significantly lower the cost and environmental impact of data centers and many other computing devices.

Feng is also the founder and co-developer of The Green500 List, which ranks the fastest supercomputers in the world based on energy efficiency and serves as a complement to the TOP500 List.  Previous professional stints include The Ohio State University, Purdue University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Orion Multisystems, Vosaic, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, NASA Ames Research Center, and most recently, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

His research interests encompass the delivery of accessible high-end computing to end users from the perspective of systems software, middleware, and applications. As such, his research oftentimes bridges multiple disciplines:  networking, monitoring and measurement, green computing, and large-scale data mining and bioinformatics, most notably, mpiBLAST. He has over 150 peer-reviewed technical publications, and his work has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, and BBC News.

He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering and in music  with honors in 1988 and a master’s degree in computer engineering from Penn State University in 1990.  He earned a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996. He is also a senior member of the IEEE.