Release Date: January 11, 2016
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Leading computer scientist Venu Govindaraju has been named vice president for research and economic development at the University at Buffalo.
His appointment, announced today by UB President Satish K. Tripathi and Provost Charles F. Zukoski, is effective immediately.
Govindaraju has served as interim vice president for research and economic development at UB since September 2014.
“An internationally renowned expert in machine learning, pattern recognition and biometrics who has made transformative contributions to his field at a global level, Dr. Govindaraju has brought tremendous expertise to this position, as well as a deep and broad-based understanding of our university’s unique strengths, opportunities and challenges as we advance our interdisciplinary research enterprise in the 21st century,” Tripathi said.
“His accomplishments in an interim capacity have positioned UB very strongly for success in advancing our ambitious research agenda.”
Under Govindaraju’s leadership as interim vice president, UB’s research enterprise has made a number of significant strides. For example, UB has continued to build its ranks of world-renowned research faculty and significantly advanced interdisciplinary research through the launch of the Communities of Excellence initiative, the Creative Arts Initiative and other major endeavors.
UB also continues to distinguish itself among its peer research institutions nationally and globally, as exemplified by UB’s leadership in National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health research consortia, and the establishment of the UB Clinical and Translational Consortium, made possible by a prestigious $16 million Clinical and Translational Science Award.
“Venu is an innovative scholar with an ambitious vision for UB’s research enterprise,” Zukoski said. “UB is fortunate to have an individual of such capacity in this important position.”
A SUNY Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, Govindaraju has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than $65 million in research funding. His work focuses on the application of machine learning and pattern recognition.
His seminal work in handwriting recognition was at the core of the first, field-deployable, real-time system for reading handwritten addresses on mail pieces. The system, developed by Govindaraju and UB colleagues, resulted in annual savings of hundreds of millions of dollars for the U.S. Postal Service. The technology also was transferred to the Royal Mail in the United Kingdom and Australia Post.
Govindaraju also was among the first researchers to explore human-like handwriting for designing CAPTCHAs — the computer test that requires users to type letters of a distorted image in a box to access content — to exploit the differential in handwriting-reading proficiency between humans and machines.
A native of India who came to UB in the late 1980s as a graduate student, Govindaraju has steadily advanced at the university as a researcher, educator and administrator.
During a 24-year career at UB, he has become one of the world’s leading authorities on machine learning and pattern recognition, an accomplishment that continues to elevate UB’s status as one of the nation’s premier public research universities.
As director of UB’s Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors, Govindaraju has made significant contributions in the area of biometrics, including new techniques to address a variety of problems in the recognition of fingerprints, faces, facial expressions and multi-biometric fusion. He was instrumental in UB’s designation as a National Science Foundation Center for Identification Technology Research.
Among the awards he has received are the Outstanding Achievements Award from the International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition and International Association for Pattern Recognition in 2015; the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Indian Institute of Technology in 2014; the Technical Achievement Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 2010; and the MIT Global Indus Technovator Award in 2004.
Govindaraju belongs to a select group of computer scientists who have been named fellows of both the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). It signifies recognition by Govindaraju’s peers of his contributions to both the science and engineering areas of computing. In addition, he is a fellow of AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), IAPR (International Association of Pattern Recognition) and SPIE (International Society of Optics and Photonics).
Most recently, the National Academy of Inventors named him a fellow in 2015. The peer-nominated honor is given to academic researchers who have created or facilitated outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.
Govindaraju has co-authored about 400 scientific papers and has supervised the dissertations of 30 doctoral students.
A graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India, Govindaraju received master’s and doctoral degrees in computer science from UB.