BLACKSBURG — Cal Ribbens, professor and associate head of the Department of Computer Science, has been named as the new head of the department.

Ribbens has been a member of the computer science department since 1987. He was named associate head for the department in 2003 and associate head for undergraduate studies in 2008. His research has focused on advancing high-performance computing and its applications for computational science and engineering, with the goal of making high-performance computing an effective tool for solving important scientific and engineering problems.

Richard C. Benson, dean of theCollege of Engineering who holds the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Chair, said Ribbens emerged from a very strong field of candidates.

“Cal is very well known to this department, and many other corners of the university, for his long and exemplary service as an associate head for the department,” Benson said. “I am grateful to the search committee for its great work, and especially grateful to the department heads who Cal succeeds — Dennis Kafura and Barbara Ryder. I’ve watched the department thrive under their leadership and know that it is in excellent hands moving forward.”

Ribbens has taught 19 different courses at Virginia Tech, including all levels of core computer sciences courses, an honors course and several advanced topics courses. He chaired 17 master’s committees and eight Ph.D. committees, and served on dozens of others.

As associate head for undergraduate studies, he had a lead role in faculty teaching assignments and course scheduling, and graduate teaching assistant selection and assignment. Ribbens also supervised the academic advising staff and lead curriculum revisions and assessments.

“I am looking forward to this opportunity to lead a strong and growing department,” Ribbens said. “This is a very exciting time to be in computer science. Our students and faculty are working on challenging problems drawn from a remarkably wide array of application areas, and affecting virtually every aspect of life.”

Ribbens completed his undergraduate work in mathematics at Calvin College. He earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in computer science from Purdue University. He has been widely published in journals, including the Journal of Parallel & Distributed Computing, the Journal of Computational Science, and ACM Transactions On Mathematical Software.

Ribbens has served on more than 20 conference program committees and as general chair of the 17th High Performance Computing Symposium, and is founding director of the Laboratory for Scientific Computing and Applications. He played a major role in the System X supercomputer project.

As associate head, Ribbens helped guide the department through considerable change, including joining a new college and the hiring of more than 20 faculty members.

“It is an exciting time for Virginia Tech, the College of Engineering, and the Department of Computer Science, as we continue to grow in size, impact, and quality,” Ribbens said.