School of Computational Science and Engineering Professor and Co-Executive Director of Institute for Data Engineering and Science Srinivas Aluru was selected to receive this year’s coveted John V. Atanasoff Discovery Award.
One of the highest bestowed by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University (ISU), the award is given annually to an alumnus who has significantly advanced scientific knowledge through laboratory accomplishments and management. The award was established in 2005 in honor of the father of modern computing, Professor John Vincent Atanasoff, who invented the first electronic digital computer at ISU in 1942.
The Department of Computer Science Faculty and Staff Recognition and Awards Committee at ISU nominated Aluru to receive this year’s award, which was presented during a ceremony held October 27, during the ISU Alumni Association luncheon. Additionally, Aluru was honored at an award ceremony held the previous evening during a dinner event hosted by the College during ISU’s homecoming week.
Aluru has a long history with ISU, having received his Master’s and Ph.D. in computer science from the university and later on spending 14 years as a faculty in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at ISU, from 1999 to 2013, after which he began working at Georgia Tech.
Since the award’s creation in 2005, Aluru is the first and only graduate from the computer science program to receive the honor, which highlights the importance of this year’s vote, as the award itself recognizes the creation of the first electronic digital computer, known as the Atanasoff-Berry Computer.
However, Aluru’s ties to this computer reach beyond his degree in computer science at ISU. While at Iowa State University, Aluru’s first advisor was Professor Gurpur Prabhu, who still serves as a faculty member there. After advising him initially, Prabhu connected Aluru with his second Ph.D. advisor, John Gustafson, to work at the Ames Laboratory in the Department of Energy at ISU. Gustafson is chiefly known for his work in high-performance computing (HPC) and, coincidentally, for leading the reconstruction of the Atanasoff-Berry computer in 1997 after the original had been mistakenly dismantled.
In his 14 years with Iowa State University Aluru held the Ross Martin Mehl and Marylyne Munas Mehl endowed professorship (2009-2013) and the Richard Stanley Chair in Interdisciplinary Engineering in the College of Engineering (2006-2009). He chaired the interdepartmental Bioinformatics and Computational Biology graduate program (2005-2007), served as associate chair for research in the department (2003-2006), and led the Dean's Research Initiative in high-throughput computational biology, a multi-disciplinary and multi-investigator initiative at the interface of HPC and computational biology. He was also a recipient of university level awards for Outstanding Achievement in Research (2011) and Mid-Career Achievement in Research (2006), Young Engineering Faculty Research Award (2002) within the College of Engineering, and the Warren B. Boast Undergraduate Teaching Award (2005).
Carl Chang, professor of computer science and chair of the ISU awards committee that nominated Aluru, said, "Srinivas is an exemplar among the ISU graduates who have achieved outstanding academic careers. We are extremely pleased the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences selected Srinivas to receive this award, and share in the excitement of welcoming him back to the Iowa State University campus to receive this unique award.”