COLLEGE PARK, Md.– The University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) will receive $1 million from the state’s Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative (MEI) to match a private donation establishing two Brin Family Endowed Professorships in Theoretical Computer Science.
“The Brin family is extremely grateful to the state of Maryland for this match,” said Samuel Brin (B.S. ’09, computer science), who spearheaded the effort on behalf of his family. “Our family is committed to Prince George’s County and the University of Maryland, our home for many years. These professorships will help the computer science department continue to push forward and thrive, across all frontiers of computation.”
In addition to Samuel, the Brin family includes his brother and Google co-founder, Sergey Brin (B.S. ’93, mathematics and computer science); his father, UMD Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Michael Brin; and his mother Eugenia Brin, a retired NASA scientist who worked on issues related to climate and weather forecasting.
The MEI, which launched in 2015, is designed to spur private donations to universities in the state for applied research in scientific and technical fields by matching such donations. UMD has received over $8 million from MEI—more than any other institution in the state.
“This strong public-private partnership will help generate the knowledge that powers high-tech innovation in the state,” said UMD President Wallace D. Loh. “Together, the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Brin family will enable us to recruit two more world-class scientists to our growing computer science hub. We appreciate this important support.”
CMNS has received $7.3 million from the program to establish six new endowed professorships in computer science and four new endowed chairs in computer science, the life sciences and mathematics. The endowed chair in mathematics was created in 2015 thanks to a donation from Michael and Eugenia Brin that was matched by the state. The Michael and Eugenia Brin E-Nnovate Endowed Chair in Mathematics is currently held by Visiting Professor Michael Rapoport.
“These endowed faculty positions allow us to expand our college’s innovation ecosystem by recruiting new faculty members and providing them with the critical resources they need to enhance the regional and state economy through their research endeavors and the students they teach and mentor,” said CMNS Dean Amitabh Varshney.
The new Brin Family Endowed Professorships will be held by computer science faculty members who work in the area of theoretical computer science. By applying rigorously developed theory and algorithms, computer scientists are solving practical problems arising in networks, computer graphics, image processing, architecture, social networks and epidemiology. Theoretical computer science also provides the foundation for research priorities such as cryptography, data science and machine learning, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing.
“Theoretical computer science continues to make important contributions to computing by laying the foundational building blocks for the technologies of today and the future,” said Ming Lin, chair of the UMD Department of Computer Science and holder of the Elizabeth Stevinson Iribe Endowed E-Nnovate Chair. “With the support of the Brin Family Professorships, the Department of Computer Science at Maryland can further solidify its global status and reputation in these important research areas.”
In addition to the Brin Family Endowed Professorships in Theoretical Computer Science, the computer science MEI endowments include:
- The Elizabeth Stevinson Iribe Endowed E-Nnovate Chair, held by Lin since January 2018, which was funded by Elizabeth Iribe and funds from the state.
- The Paul Chrisman Iribe Endowed E-Nnovate Professorship, held by Dinesh Manocha since May 2018, which was funded by Elizabeth Iribe and an equal match from the state. It honors Elizabeth’s brother.
- The Reginald Allan Hahne Endowed E-Nnovate Professor in virtual reality, held by Matthias Zwicker since March 2017, which was funded by Elizabeth Iribe and an equal match from the state. It was named for her son Brendan Iribe’s high school computer science teacher.
- One Capital One Endowed E-Nnovate Chair and two Capital One Endowed E-Nnovate Professors in machine learning, data science and cybersecurity, funded by Capital One and an equal match from the state.
“My heartfelt thanks to the Brin and Iribe families, as well as Capital One,” Lin said. “If they didn’t have the vision and desire to give back, none of this would have been possible. The students are the biggest beneficiaries of these gifts, which also help elevate the department to the next level.”
As the Department of Computer Science searches for candidates to fill the Brin Family Professorships and the Capital One Chair and Professorships, construction continues on the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation. A cutting-edge research, education and entrepreneurship facility for computer science at UMD, the facility is expected to open in 2019. The new building became a reality thanks to a $31 million gift from alumnus Brendan Iribe, co-founder of the virtual reality company Oculus.
These generous gifts support Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland, UMD’s $1.5 billion fundraising campaign focused on elevating and expanding the university’s mission of service, enhancing academic distinction and bolstering UMD’s leading-edge research enterprise.
“The support for a new building and endowed faculty positions is transforming the university, the region and the state, as our students graduate and go on to develop technological innovations that impact society and drive the economic growth for the state of Maryland,” Lin said.