GT Computing Welcomes Six Faculty, Researchers

New faculty from upper left to lower right: Richard Peng, Neha Kumar, Larry Sweet, Sonia Chernova, James Hays, and Oded Green.

This fall, Georgia Tech’s College of Computing is swarming with its largest student body ever and six other new faces: highly accomplished faculty and researchers in each School. New faculty members expand Georgia Tech’s leadership in trailblazing fields of computer science and, through their efforts, will generate exciting new research opportunities for students, too. Learn more below and welcome them to the Yellow Jacket family!

Sonia Chernova is director of the new Robot Autonomy and Interactive Learning (RAIL) lab — which she brings to Georgia Tech from Worcester Polytechnic Institute — and is the Catherine M. and James E. Allchin Early-Career Assistant Professor in the School of Interactive Computing. Her research interests include robot learning, human-robot interaction, and human computation. She has a particular interest in crowdsourcing as a means of rapid prototyping and data collection. Her research is supported through funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research (ONR), and DARPA. She is the recipient of the NSF CAREER and ONR YIP awards. Chernova received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009, and says she was drawn to Georgia Tech now “because of its world-leading Robotics program.” On campus, you can find Chernova in CCB 254 and teaching “Introduction to Robotics and Perception” during the Spring ’16 term.

​Oded Green joins the School of Computational Science & Engineering as a research scientist. His research interests are designing and implementing algorithms for social network analytics on novel accelerators. Green completed his PhD in computational science and engineering at Georgia Tech in 2014, and prior studies were completed at Technion – the Israel Institute of Technology. After earning his PhD, he worked briefly at ArrayFire, which develops and markets fast & simple GPU software. He was drawn back to Georgia Tech “because of the frontier research taking place on campus.” He says: "In the entire state of Georgia, there isn't a single place that I would rather work for over Georgia Tech. Working here is both fun and challenging." On campus, you can find Green in KACB 1338, hacking away at code with a good cup of coffee by his side.

James Hays joins the School of Interactive Computing from Brown University as an Associate Professor with tenure. Hays earned a PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009. His research interests span computer graphics, computer vision, and computational photography, with particular interest in image restoration via crowd-sourced photos of similar locations, ground-to-aerial photograph geo-localization, and a form of computer vision he calls “sketch to vision.” He is funded by a Sloan fellowship, an NSF CAREER award and gifts from Microsoft, Adobe, Pixar, and Google. On campus, you can find him in CCB 315 (temporarily in CCB 222) and teaching CS 4495/6476 “Computer Vision” and CS 2951-B “Data-Driven Vision and Graphics."

​Neha Kumar joins Georgia Tech from the University of Southern California (USC) as an Assistant Professor with joint appointments in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and the School of Interactive Computing. She studies new media and information-sharing practices of marginalized communities in India, and uses her findings to inform appropriate technology design and interventions. Prior to USC, she was a research associate at the University of Washington and continues to work on a project there, exploring visual media to address high infant and maternal mortality rates in India. She earned her PhD in 2013 from University of California - Berkeley’s School of Information.

Richard Peng comes to Georgia Tech’s School of Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was an instructor of Applied Mathematics. Peng says what keeps him up at night is “finding hay in a random half of the haystack.” His research interests are in the design, analysis and implementation of efficient algorithms for tasks such as network analysis, scientific computing and optimization. Peng received his PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in 2013. He was a Microsoft Research PhD Fellow and his thesis won the CMU SCS Distinguished Dissertation Award. Peng says he was drawn to Georgia Tech because of the synergy of algorithms, statistics, and optimization through ARC and the ACO degree program. On campus, you can find him in Klaus 2144 or teaching seminar course CS 8003-SA “Sampling Algorithms.”

Larry Sweet is a professor of practice in robotics and associate director of technology transition in the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines. He focuses on establishing a new Technology Transition Laboratory — taking IRIM research with high-impact potential to successful industrial deployment. Sweet received his PhD and MS degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a tenured faculty member at Princeton University, and most recently was chief technology officer at Symbotic, where he led the conceptualization, design, and implementation of high-speed autonomous mobile robots in warehouse structures. During his time at Symbotic, Sweet was recognized with the 2013 Edison Award for Productivity and the 2015 Manufacturing Leadership Supply Chain High Achiever Award. Sweet says the opportunity to have transformational impacts on industry, leveraging research from one of the leading robotics programs in the United States is what drew him to IRIM. Graduate students who learn successful technology transition processes from Sweet are sure to be highly recruited by sponsors. On campus, you can find him in CCB218.