Eight new faculty members have joined the Department of Computer Science, bringing their teaching and research experiences from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of California Los Angeles, Rochester Institute of Technology, Temple University, George Washington University, and Virginia Tech. Collectively, their work represents emerging strengths in a broad set of strategic areas, including security, digital education, big data application, software engineering, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

This brings the total number of faculty to nearly 60 at campuses in Blacksburg and the greater Washington, D.C., metro area. In addition, five faculty members have accepted offers with start dates in 2021.

“This group will add energy and new ideas to continue to grow and improve our teaching and research missions,” said Cal Ribbens, computer science department head. “With great support from the College of Engineering, this year is the first of what we expect to be several years of significant growth in our faculty.”

“We are excited to welcome this highly qualified group of faculty to our department," said Ali R. Butt, associate department head for faculty development. “We have a number of mentoring, guidance, and development programs in place for the new faculty to establish and sustain world-class research programs.”

Taejoong (Tijay) Chung

With research focused on internet security, privacy implications, and internet measurement, Taejoong (Tijay) Chung joins the department as assistant professor after spending two years at the Rochester Institute of Technology as an assistant professor. He received a Ph.D. in computer science and engineering from Seoul National University. "Before I joined, I had also heard from many colleagues in Virginia Tech that the department has a collegial atmosphere in which all faculty help each other,” said Chung."

Taejoong (Tijay) Chung
Taejoong (Tijay) Chung
Bob Edmison

As collegiate assistant professor, Bob Edmison joins the department after serving as the director of software development for Virginia Tech’s Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies group. Edmison earned his undergraduate, master's, and doctorate degrees at Virginia Tech, with the latter in computer science while working full-time. His research interests are in data-driven tools and approaches for digital education. In addition to teaching courses, Edmison serves as the department’s coordinator for online teaching and learning.

Bob Edmison
Bob Edmison
Muhammad Ali Gulzar

Assistant Professor Muhammad Ali Gulzar brings together a unique combination of ideas from software engineering, distributed systems, and databases to accelerate the development of reliable big data applications. He comes to Virginia Tech after earning his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Gulzar will be teaching a course in big data management for the spring 2021 semester. "I am excited about this course because it presents a new take on traditional databases course," said Gulzar. "I'll be providing hands-on learning on how can we adapt software engineering practices — design, testing, debugging — for large-scale data processing."

Muhammad Ali Gulzar
Muhammad Ali Gulzar
Sara Hooshangi

In January 2020, Sara Hooshangi joined the faculty as the founding director of the masters of engineering in computer science degree program at the new Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. She received her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Princeton University and previously served as an associate professor at the George Washington University. Her research interests are in computer science education.

Sara Hooshangi
Sara Hooshangi
Lifu Huang

Assistant professor Lifu Huang is looking forward to exploring with his students his research interests in the fields of natural language processing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

"I hope we can produce more and more fundamental and impactful research outcomes to solve practical challenges and problems and further push forward the progress of artificial intelligence," said Huang. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2020. 

Lifu Huang
Lifu Huang
Bo Ji

Bo Ji joins the department as an associate professor. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Ji served as an associate professor in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Temple University. Ji said he was drawn to Virginia Tech and the department due to its rapid growth and the reputation for promoting exciting collaborations among faculty and students. “I very much cherish the opportunity of working with brilliant students at Virginia Tech on challenging research problems.”

He received his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering  from Ohio State University. Ji’s research interests are in the modeling, analysis, control, optimization, and learning of computer and network systems. 

David McPherson

Advanced Instructor David McPherson returns to the Department of Computer Science after most recently serving as an instructor for the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He holds master’s degrees in special education and computer science from Virginia Tech. He has extensive experience in curriculum development and teaching over a wide range of computer science courses.

McPherson said he is looking forward to teaching new courses and meeting new students, although this is harder to achieve given the current COVID-19 situation. "For one of my courses, I am conducting it as a hybrid course so that I can meet the students and get to know them better and they can get to know me," said McPherson. 

David McPherson
David McPherson
Mohammed Seyam

Joining as a collegiate assistant professor, Seyam received his Ph.D. in computer science from Virginia Tech in 2017.  His research interests are in human-computer interaction, software engineering, and computer science education. In addition to teaching courses, Seyam will serve as the department’s coordinator for experiential learning.

Mohammed Seyam
Mohammed Seyam

Written by Jenise L. Jacques.