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Symposium Speakers

Keynote Lecture: Ward Wheeler
Chair, Division of Invertebrate Zoology
Curator-in-Charge, Scientific Computing
Curator, Invertebrate Zoology
American Museum of Natural History

Ward Wheeler’s research focuses on systematic theory and its application to the historical relationships among and within a number of metazoan lineages. He has developed theory and algorithms to interpret evolutionary patterns from multiple sources of phylogenetic information including anatomy, behavior, and and a diversity of genomic information. His laboratory at the AMNH sequences DNA and reconstructs evolutionary trees to determine how metazoan taxa and their anatomy and genomes have evolved over the past 500 million years. Dr. Wheeler has built a series of high performance cluster computers to analyze these data, some of the fastest used in phylogenetic research in the world. This technology is put to use in the American Museum's quest to link extinct lineages with the genomes, morphology, and behavior of species that survive today. Dr. Wheeler joined the Museum in 1989 and since then has authored over 150 scientific publications, books, and software packages, and has been awarded a US patent in DNA sequence analysis.

Kostas Bekris
Assistant Professor, Computer Science Department, Rutgers University

Kostas Bekris is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Rutgers University. He received his undergraduate education in Computer Science at the University of Crete, Greece and completed his MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science at Rice University, Houston, TX, under the supervision of Prof. Lydia Kavraki. Before joining Rutgers, he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. His interests include motion planning for systems with dynamics, replanning and motion coordination, and related applications in robotics, simulation, games and the emerging area of cyber-physical systems. His research group has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Office of Naval Research and the Nevada NASA Space Grant Consortium.

Hubertus Franke
IBM Research Division, Thomas J. Watson Research Center

Dr. Franke is a Research Staff Member and manager in the Scalable Systems Department at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center. He received a Diplom Informatik Degree in Computer Science from the Technical University of Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1987, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1989 and 1992, respectively. He subsequently joined IBM at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center, where he worked on the IBM SP1/2 MPI subsystem, scalable operating systems, Linux scalability and enterprise readiness, multi-core architectures, and scalable applications. He was a principal architect of the PowerEN architecture. He is currently applying his system expertise to cloud architectures and business analytics applications. He received several IBM Outstanding Innovation Awards for his work. He is an author or coauthor of more than 100 technical papers and 30 patents. He is a Member of the IBM Academy of Science and an IBM Master Inventor. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor for Computer Science at NYU, New York City, with focus on operating systems, computer architecture and compilers.

Jing He
Associate Professor, Computer Science Department, Old Dominion University

Dr. He obtained her B.S. degree in applied mathematics from Jilin University (China), and her M.S. degree in mathematics from Mew Mexico State University. She received the Ph.D. degree from an interdisciplinary program at Baylor College of Medicine in Structural and Computational Biology and Molecular Biophysics. Before joining Old Dominion University, she was an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department at New Mexico State University. Currently she is an Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science at Old Dominion University.

D. John Hillier
Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh

Hillier received his Ph.D. from the Australian National University in 1984. For his thesis, he worked on developing a model for the interpretation of the emission-line spectra of Wolf-Rayet stars. These evolved massive stars are losing mass in a dense stellar wind, have lost most of their hydrogen envelope, and show nuclear processed material at their surface. Before commencing an assistant professor position at the University of Pittsburgh in 1993, Hillier was a support astronomer at the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Sydney, and held postdoctoral positions at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in Boulder, Colorado, and at the University of Munich. His main interests are radiative transfer, spectroscopic analysis, massive stars, and supernovae. He is best known for the development of the 1D time-dependent radiative transfer code, CMFGEN, which has been used to successfully analyze the spectra of O stars, Wolf-Rayet stars, luminous blue variables, and supernovae.

Avner Schlessinger
Assistant Professor, Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Avner Schlessinger is Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics and is a member of the Tisch Cancer Institute, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. He currently works in the area of computational structural biology, bioinformatics, systems pharmacology, and drug discovery. His research focuses on the development and application of computational tools to annotate the functions of proteins. The two major research areas of his group include structure-based drug design for membrane transporters, and development and application of sequence-based and structure-based methods to predict different features of proteins using machine-learning techniques. Dr. Schlessinger completed a B.Sc. in chemistry & biology in Tel Aviv University, Israel, and a Ph.D. in bioinformatics & biophysics at Columbia University, New York. He was then an NIH-NRSA postdoctoral researcher at the department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Schlessinger joined the faculty at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in January, 2013.