Allan, Levine Named 2020 Association for Computing Machinery Fellows

James Allan and Brian Levine
Left to right: James Allan and Brian Levine

Professors James Allan and Brian Levine of the UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) have been named Fellows by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society.

The ACM Fellow recognition is the organization’s highest member grade, representing less than one percent of ACM members, who have been named for their “foundational accomplishments in computing and information technology.” The two are part of a group of 95 new fellows representing 71 universities, companies and research centers from around the world.

ACM President Gabriele Kotsis says, “The 2020 ACM Fellows have demonstrated excellence across many disciplines of computing. These men and women have made pivotal contributions to technologies that are transforming whole industries, as well as our personal lives. We fully expect that these new ACM Fellows will continue in the vanguard in their respective fields."

“With these latest two additions, eighteen CICS faculty members have been named ACM Fellows,” says Laura Haas, dean of CICS. “They honor our college with their impactful research and leadership service that exemplify our ethos of computing for the common good.”

Allan, who serves as chair of the faculty at CICS and director of the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval, was cited for “contributions to information retrieval, including topic detection and tracking.” He is best known for his thirty years of research in information retrieval, the science behind search engines and similar technologies. At UMass Amherst, he serves on the leadership team of the NSF ADVANCE grant program to support faculty from populations underrepresented in computing.

Among other honors and awards, Allan received best paper awards from the ACM SIGIR conference on research and development in information retrieval in 2001 and in 2006. He also received a SIGIR test of time award for a 1998 paper on event detection and tracking. In 2018, he was elected to the Computing Research Association’s board of directors, and then to the organization’s executive committee as treasurer. He joined the computing science faculty of UMass Amherst in 1994 and received his master’s and doctorate degrees in computer science from Cornell University in 1991 and 1995.

Levine was cited for “contributions to network forensics, security and privacy, and for thwarting crimes against children,” topics which have been the focus of his research for more than two decades. His research is driven by his desire to use computer science for good. He leads the UMass Rescue Lab, which has collaborated for more than a decade with the FBI and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force of state-based law enforcement. Levine has strived to advance basic research that has an impact in practice. As a result, the lab’s tools are used in all 50 states, by many US federal agencies, and in tens of countries around the world. For thousands of children, the tools were used to rescue them from sexually abusive situations, or to stop their revictimization caused by continued internet-based sharing of child sexual abuse materials.

Levine is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award (2002) for work in peer-to-peer networking and a UMass Lilly Teaching Fellowship (2003), as well as the College of Natural Sciences' Outstanding Teacher Award (2007) and Outstanding Research Award (2011). In 2017, he received a test of time award from the IEEE INFOCOM conference on computer communications for a paper from 2006. He joined the UMass Amherst faculty in 1999, after receiving his master’s and doctorate degrees in computer engineering from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1996 and 1999, respectively. Levine serves as the founding director of the UMass Amherst Cybersecurity Institute.

For more information about the ACM Fellows Program and a complete list of newly elevated fellows, see