Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences Announces New Faculty Leadership Team

Erik Learned-Miller and Ramesh Sitaraman
Erik Learned-Miller (left), Ramesh Sitaraman (right)

As the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) at UMass Amherst begins its 2022–2023 academic year, Dean Laura Haas has announced that Professor Erik Learned-Miller has been named chair of the faculty, and that Distinguished Professor Ramesh Sitaraman has been appointed to the newly created role of associate dean for educational programs and teaching.

Responding to the rapid growth of the college, these two roles assume the responsibilities previously assigned solely to the chair of the faculty, held for the past seven years by Professor James Allan. In this new structure, Learned-Miller now oversees faculty recruitment and promotions, and helps develop the long-range goals for the college, while Sitaraman now has responsibility for the educational mission of the college, including undergraduate and graduate programs and teaching development.

In accepting the appointment, Learned-Miller outlined his commitment to building on the work of Allan and Haas to further cultivate a culture of inclusive participation among CICS faculty, to ensure that the college’s 74 tenure-stream and teaching faculty—40 of whom were hired in the last five years—can best meet the challenges of modern computing in education and research.

“We’ve worked to build a culture where everyone on the faculty has a voice,” he explains. “During this period of rapid growth for the college, it's my goal to make sure everyone’s voice is heard as we develop our vision for where we go next.” 

Learned-Miller also hopes to contribute to existing efforts to enhance the college's reputation and support its continued growth when considering the legacy he'd like to leave.   

“Today, thanks to Dean Haas’ leadership and the investments we are seeing in our college right now from the university, the commonwealth, and industry, I believe we are in a strong place—and now it’s time for faculty to engage in the kind of strategic planning that could help us take another step in our evolution,” says Learned-Miller.

Learned-Miller's current research focuses on unsupervised, self-supervised, and semi-supervised learning, as well as mechanisms for regulating face recognition technology. His research has included work on one-shot learning, face recognition and face detection, segmentation of moving objects in video, algorithms for the joint alignment of unlabeled images, and text recognition. He has produced some of the most widely used benchmarks in face recognition research, including Labeled Faces in the Wild and the Face Detection Database and Benchmark.  

In 2021, Learned-Miller was selected to give a Distinguished Lecture Series talk and presented with the Chancellor's Medal, the highest recognition bestowed upon faculty by UMass Amherst. He also received the 2019 Mark Everingham Award for contributions to the computer vision community. Learned-Miller received his master’s and doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the computer science faculty at UMass Amherst in 2004 and serves as co-director of the Computer Vision Laboratory

In his new role, Sitaraman is responsible for the college’s educational programs, which currently enroll 281 doctoral students, 396 master’s students, and 1,732 undergraduate computer science and informatics majors. He will also hold responsibility for fostering teaching excellence in the college’s educational programs, which are consistently ranked among the best in the world and have seen a five-fold enrollment increase over the past decade.

“As we grow, we need to maintain the rich student-faculty interactions that are key to superior learning outcomes while ensuring that our educational programs are accessible and welcoming to students from all walks of life,” says Sitaraman. “My goal is to help our college do even more to center our programs around students and make them even more responsive to the needs of individual learners.”

A longtime proponent of using computing principles to help solve the world’s major problems, Sitaraman is the founding director of the innovative informatics program at CICS and an award-winning teacher with more than two decades of experience in the classroom.

“Computing education is a key enabler of nearly every major advancement in human society,” says Sitaraman. “We must teach our students to use their computing superpowers ethically for the common good.” 

Sitaraman is well-known for his pioneering contributions to the content delivery networks and edge computing services that currently deliver much of the world’s web content, streaming videos, and edge applications. A fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and IEEE, he is a recipient of the inaugural ACM SIGCOMM Networking Systems Award for his pioneering work on the Akamai CDN, an Excellence in DASH Award for his work on adaptive bitrate algorithms, a College of Natural Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award, and a UMass Amherst Distinguished Teaching Award. Sitaraman directs the Laboratory for Internet-Scale Distributed Systems. He holds a doctorate in computer science from Princeton University.