Two faculty named AAAS fellows

Professors H. V. Jagadish and Christopher Poulsen are honored for advancing socially impactful research.

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From left to right: EECS professor H. V. Jagadish and CLaSP professor Christopher Poulsen.

A data scientist and a climate modeler from Michigan Engineering are among the seven U-M faculty members newly elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, and the publisher of the journal Science.

The professors join 389 scientists and engineers from across the nation who were chosen by their peers for their “efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished,” according to AAAS.

The new fellows are H. V. Jagadish, the Bernard A. Galler Collegiate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a distinguished scientist at the Michigan Institute for Data Science; and Christopher Poulsen, professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and also a professor in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering.

“Our newest AAAS fellows are working at the forefront of some of the biggest challenges we face as a society today. I congratulate them on this honor and I thank them for their service. They exemplify the ethos of Michigan Engineering,” said Alec D. Gallimore, who is the the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, the Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Professor, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and a professor both of aerospace engineering and of applied physics.

Jagadish, who studies how to help people access and manage information, is honored for distinguished contributions to database systems and many aspects of Big Data and data science, specifically for new ways to share data. He is widely recognized for his pioneering work on multi-dimensional data, and for developing new representation techniques and indexing schemes to store and retrieve non-conventional data sets such as geometric objects and text. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1985 and joined the U-M faculty in 1999.

“As Big Data now impacts all aspects of society, we really need to understand this impact and be responsible in the exercise of its power,” Jagadish said.

Poulsen is honored for extraordinary accomplishments in climate change modeling that have improved understanding of how Earth’s climate has evolved and changed over the past 800 million years. He has published on climate topics including snowball Earth dynamics, extreme greenhouse climates, mountain-uplift induced climate change, ice-age cycles, and plant physiological forcing of past and future climate. He received his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University in 1999 and joined the U-M faculty in 2003.

“Our work provides a fuller understanding of the climate system, its variability, and sensitivity, and also contributes to evaluating the earth system models that we use for future climate predictions,” Poulsen said. “These models are very heavily tuned to simulate modern conditions. To have any faith in them, they should be able to simulate past extreme conditions as well.”

This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in Science magazine on Nov. 24 and will be honored in February at the AAAS annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

This article was co-written by Steve Crang and EJ Olsen.