Opening Remarks, Afternoon Greeting and Closing Remarks
President Laurie Leshin
16th president, and first woman, to lead Worcester Polytechnic Institute, America’s third oldest private technological university.
Under her leadership, WPI has steadily built upon its reputation as the global leader in project-based learning, and was recognized by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings for best balancing excellence in teaching with groundbreaking research.
Leshin has prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion, and WPI is now among STEM institutions with the highest percentage of female undergraduate students. She is also a champion of K-12 STEM outreach and serves on the Federal STEM Advisory Panel, charged with advising federal agencies on their implementation of STEM education initiatives.
Prior to joining WPI, she was an accomplished leader in academia and government service, with roles including dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a scientist for the Mars Curiosity Rover mission, and deputy director of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, where she oversaw NASA’s future human spaceflight programs and activities. She also serves in leadership positions for many academic- and science-focused organizations beyond WPI.
Dr. Jean King
Peterson Family Dean of Arts & Sciences, WPI
A widely respected neuroscientist, Jean King joined the WPI community as the Peterson Family Dean of Arts and Sciences in 2017. In addition to her duties as dean, she is a professor in the Department of Biology and Biotechnology. Dr. King’s research uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify and monitor neuronal plasticity associated with addiction, ADHD, depression, fearfulness, anxiety, autism and neurological disorders (PD and TBI) in animal models with the hope of finding clues to help us understand these conditions in humans. Dr. King has published over 60 original scientific papers in highly respected international scientific journals, over 10 chapters in books and review articles in major neurophysiology journals, and is an editor of New York Academy of Sciences Publication – Roots of Mental Illness in Children. Prior to joining WPI, she was vice provost for biomedical research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School; a tenured professor of psychiatry, radiology, and neurology; and director of the university’s Center for Comparative Neuroimaging.
Dr. Elke Rundensteiner
Founding Director of Data Science Program, Professor of Computer Science, WPI
Dr. Elke Rundensteiner, Professor in Computer Science, is the founding Director of the interdisciplinary Data Science program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) . Dr. Rundensteiner is an internationally recognized expert in big data analytics. Her recent research interests include scalable machine learning and knowledge discovery, event sensor stream analytics, intelligent decision making, and visual and computational big data analytics infrastructures. With an h-index of 55, she has authored well over 370 publications, numerous patents, and software systems released to public domain. Her work has been supported by government agencies including DARPA, NSF, NIH, DOE, and FDA, and by industry including HP, IBM, Verizon Labs, GTE, NEC, AMADEUS, Charles River Analytics, and by labs such as MITRE Corporation. Dr. Rundensteiner has been recipient of numerous honors, including WPI Chairman’s Exemplary Faculty Prize, WPI Board of Trustees’ Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship award, Sigma Xi Outstanding Senior Faculty Researcher, and the NSF Young Investigator award. Dr. Rundensteiner holds leadership positions in the big data field, having served as Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Data and Knowledge Engineering and VLDB Journal and as area chair on premiere professional big data conferences, including ACM SIGMOD, VLDB, IEEE ICDE, and others.
Dr. Eleanor Loiacono
Professor of IT and Data Science, WPI, Founder and Director of the Inclusive Design and Accessibility (IDEA) Hub
Dr. Loiacono is currently a Professor of Information Technology and
Data Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the Robert A. Foisie School of Business. Dr. Loiacono is the Founder and Director of the Inclusive Design and Accessibility (IDEA) Hub at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which was
established in 2018 to address the needs of people with differing abilities across technologies and environments.
Dr. Loiacono’s research expertise centers on the intersection of technology and the user. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Loiacono has focused on how people feel about the technology they use and how technologies, such as mobile apps and social media, can improve users’ experiences. Dr. Loiacono has brought her research expertise into her teaching and project advising as well.