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James A. Burns, C.S.C., Graduate School Award

2009 Recipient: Danny Chen

Danny Chen has been a member of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering since 1992. He began at Notre Dame shortly after completing his Ph.D. in computer science at Purdue University. Through his contributions as a scholar, research adviser, and teacher, he has been a driving force in the department’s development into a thriving, well-funded, externally recognized Ph.D. program. Dr. Chen is a consistent advocate of striving for the highest levels of achievement, and this has been reflected in the success of his department’s graduate program and its graduates.

Dr. Chen has published in several areas of research, including robot path planning, VLSI design, and parallel algorithms. But he is best known as a leader in the emerging area of research known as computational medicine. He has received world-wide recognition for his pioneer work of using computational geometry techniques to solve algorithmic problems arising in medical applications, such as radiation cancer therapy and medical imaging. He has an outstanding scholarly record: He has published nearly 200 papers in selective peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, holds five patents, and won 20 research awards from the National Science Foundation (including an NSF CAREER Award), the National Institutes of Health, and various industry groups. He has been a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Dr. Chen insists that his students rise to the high standards of his own scholarship. They respect him for those high standards and rewarded him by nomination for the Kaneb Teaching Award, which he won in 2004. And, through excellence in teaching, in thesis advising, and securing funding, Dr. Chen has been remarkably successful in mentoring his graduate students. His 12 Ph.D. students have themselves built first-rate careers—his very first student is currently a Lockheed Martin senior fellow, another of his former students works at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, three are tenured associate professors—one at the University of Texas, another at SUNY-Buffalo, and the third at the University of Iowa—and an additional two are in tenure-track positions. Very remarkably, two of his students have themselves received the NSF CAREER Award.

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The James A. Burns, C.S.C., Graduate School Award is given annually to a faculty member for distinction in graduate teaching or other exemplary contributions to graduate education. Contributions can be in any or all of the following areas: building or developing a graduate program, teaching quality graduate courses, excellence as an adviser or thesis director, and excellence in service as a director of graduate studies or in any other similar position. Nominations are requested from individual faculty and from students in the Graduate School.

The first Notre Dame President with an advanced degree, a doctorate from the Catholic University of America, Father Burns was the leading reformer of Catholic education in this country in the first quarter of the 20th century. One of his most significant contributions was to raise academic standards by recruiting faculty with doctoral degrees.

James A. Burns, C.S.C., Graduate School Winners Since 1990

1990 Rev. Ernan McMullin
1991 Lawrence Marsh
1992 Wilhelm Stoll
1993 Scott Maxwell
1994 Joan Aldous
Francis J. Castellino
1995 Robert C. Johansen
Kwang–tzu Yang
1996 Jeanne D. Day
1997 Arvind Varma
1998 David Leege
Thomas Mueller
1999 Gail Bederman
2000 Katherine O’Brien–O’Keeffe
2001 Thomas Nowak
2002 Cindy S. Bergeman
2003 Joan Brennecke
2004 Gary Lamberti
2005 Scott P. Mainwaring
2006 John Cavadini
Daniel Costello
2007 Julia F. Knight
2008 E. Mark Cummings
Mark A. Stadtherr