Longtime IBM Researcher Laura M. Haas Named Dean of the College of Information and Computer Sciences at UMass Amherst

Laura Haas
Laura Haas

AMHERST, Mass. – Laura M. Haas, an IBM Fellow at IBM Research – Almaden, known for her foundational research on information integration technology, has been named dean of the College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Haas, who joined IBM in 1981 and was named an IBM Fellow in 2009 in recognition of her career accomplishments, will assume her duties at the college on Aug. 1, says UMass Amherst Provost Katherine Newman, who announced the appointment.

“Laura Haas is a visionary leader in the field of computer science who has built major engines of basic and applied research for one of the most renowned firms in the world,” says Newman. “We are incredibly fortunate to have attracted her to UMass, where she will lead a dynamic, accomplished and enthusiastic faculty. The sky is the limit for this college.”

Haas will take the reins from Distinguished Professor W. Bruce Croft, who has served as interim dean since the college was formally established, in September 2015.

“I am delighted to be joining the College of Information and Computer Sciences at this exciting time in its history,” says Haas. “Data and computing are playing critical roles in all aspects of our lives, driving increased demand for graduates trained in these fields and for continual innovation. I see tremendous opportunities for the college in both education and scholarship, and I look forward to working with the amazing faculty, staff and students to increase diversity, grow our ties across the university, enhance our reputation and serve the community, the commonwealth and the nation.”

Haas, whose research interests are information integration, database and knowledge-based systems, data science, data analytics and applications, and information-centric user interaction, founded IBM’s Accelerated Discovery Lab, which features the company’s first hosted data center designed for Big Data. The lab opened in 2011.

In 2009, she was named chief scientist for IBM research in computer science and in 2007 was given responsibility for coordinating information management research efforts across six labs worldwide. From 2005-11, Haas directed the computer science department at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, where she was responsible for the technical direction, operations, personnel management and budget for the unit of about 100 researchers, software engineers and postdoctoral researchers.

She has served in a variety of managerial and leadership roles at IBM since joining the corporation as a research staff member.

Haas also was a visiting fellow in the computer science department at ETH Zurich in 2009 and the computer science department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992-93.

She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. Haas is also a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and received the Anita Borg Technical Leadership Award from the Anita Borg Institute in 2010. She received the ACM SIGMOD Edgar F. Codd Innovation Award, the highest honor in the database field, in 2015.

IBM has honored Haas many times over her 36-year career. In addition to being named one of 80 IBM Fellows among 200,000 technical employees, she was elected to the IBM Academy of Technology in 2004. She was also recognized several times with awards for innovation and technical achievement.

Haas earned her Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Texas at Austin. She holds an A.B. in applied mathematics and computer science from Harvard University.

UMass Amherst’s College of Information and Computer Sciences has 51 tenure and non-tenure track faculty with 163 Ph.D. students, 225 M.S. students and more than 1,100 undergraduate majors. Longstanding areas of strength include artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, information retrieval, software engineering, theoretical computer science, networking and multi-agent systems. More recently, research has expanded in new fields like graphics, multimedia learning technologies, distributed systems, security and privacy, digital forensics, and databases. Research funding from industry and government exceeded $18 million in fiscal year 2015. CICS maintains significant research collaborations with more than 30 industry-leading technology companies.

The college’s roots trace back to 1964 when computer science emerged as a new field of study at UMass Amherst. A year later, a master’s degree program was created. In 1972, the department of computer and information science and a Ph.D. program were approved. A B.S. program was added in 1978. The department changed its name to computer science in 1992 and moved to the Computer Science Building in 1999. A B.A. program in computer science began operation in 2010. In 2012, the department became a school within the College of Natural Sciences. The university’s board of trustees approved the establishment of the college in April 2015.