Pennylvania State University

Pennylvania State University

Vasant Honavar: Biographical Sketch

Dr. Vasant Honavar received his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Cognitive Science, in 1990 from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where he worked with Professor Leonard Uhr and specializsd in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Neural Computation. In September 2013, Honavar joined the faculty of Penn State University where he currently serves as a Professor and Edward Frymoyer Chair  of Information Science and Technology. He directs the Artificial Intelligence Research Laboratory and the Center for Big Data Analytics and Discovery Informatics and serves as an associate director of the Institute for Cyberscience. He is also on the faculty of the Huck Institute of the Life Sciences, the Institute for Cyberscience, and the Bioinformatics and Genomics Graduate Program. In addition to research, graduate student supervision and teaching, he is responsible for developing new research and educational initiatives in Data Sciences and contributing to research initiatives in Life  Sciences.

Honavar serves on the Computing Research Association's Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Council (task forces on Big Data, Internet of Things, Healthcare, and High Performance Computing), and on the Board of Directors of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group for Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Biomedical Informatics.

Honavar's current research and teaching interests include Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Bioinformatics, Big Data Analytics, Computational Molecular Biology, Data Mining, Discovery Informatics Information Integration, Knowledge Representation and Inference, Semantic Technologies, Social Informatics, Security Informatics, and Health Informatics.

Honavar has led research projects funded by NSF, NIH, and USDA that have resulted in foundational research contributions (documented in over 250 peer-reviewed publications) in Scalable approaches to building predictive models from large, distributed, semantically disparate data (big data); Constructing predictive models from sequence, image, text, multi-relational, graph-structured data; Eliciting causal information from multiple sources of observational and experimental data; Selective sharing of knowledge across disparate knowledge bases; Representing and reasoning about preferences;  Composing complex services from components; and Applications in bioinformatics and computational biology (especially analysis and prediction of protein-protein, protein-DNA, and protein-RNA interactions and interfaces, B-cell and T-cell epitopes, post-translational modifications), Social network Informatics, Health Informatics, Energy Informatics, Security Informatics, and related areas. Honavar has co-authored or co-edited several books including: Artificial Intelligence and Neural Networks: Steps Toward Principled Integration (with Prof. Leonard Uhr), published by Academic Press in 1994; Grammatical Inference (Lecture Notes in Computer Science Vol. 1433) (with Giora Slutzki) published by Springer-Verlag in 1998; Evolutionary Synthesis of Intelligent Agents (with his former Ph.D. student Karthik Balakrishnan and Mukesh Patel) published by MIT Press in 2001. Honavar is currently working on two books.

Honavar has served as a principal or co-principal investigator on grants totaling approximately $20 million during 1990-2014 from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Agriculture, and the US Department of Defense. He has extensive curriculum development and teaching experience in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Bioinformatics.  He also has substantial industrial consulting experience in Data Mining, Bioinformatics, and related topics.

From 1990 to 2013, Honavar served on the faculty of Computer Science and of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at Iowa State University (ISU). At ISU, he directed the Artificial Intelligence Research Laboratory (which he founded in 1990) and the Center for Computational Intelligence, Learning & Discovery (which he founded in 2005) and served as the associate chair (2001-2003) and chair (2003-2005) of the ISU Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Graduate Program, which he helped establish in 1999 with support from an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) award.

During 2010-2013, Honavar served as a program director in the Information and Intelligent Systems Division of the Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) during 2010-2013 while maintaining his research program at ISU. He led the Big Data Science and Engineering Program, established the NSF-OFR collaboration in Computational and Information Processing Approaches to and Infrastructure in support of, Financial Research and Analysis and Management, contributed to Smart and Connected Health, Information Integration and Informatics, Expeditions in Computing, Science of Learning Centers, Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training, Computing Research Infrastructure Programs.

Honavar has extensive teaching and curriculum development experience in Computer Science and Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. He has designed and taught graduate and undergraduate courses and seminars in Artificial Intelligence, Bioinformatics, Computational Systems Biology, Machine Learning, Neural Networks, Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, Knowledge Representation and Inference, Semantic Web and related topics. He has developed and presented tutorials at conferences on on some of these topics.

Honavar has served on, or currently serves on the editorial boards of several journals including IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Cognitive Systems Research, Machine Learning, the Journal of Bioinformatics and Biology Insights, the International Journal of Semantic Web and Information Systems, the International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design, the International Journal of Computer and Information Security, and the International Journal of Data Mining and Bioinformatics, and Webmed Central.  

Honavar has served as the program chair of several conferences and symposia, including most recently, the IEEE Conference on Big Data (2014), the ACM SIGKDD Workshop on Discovery Informatics (2014), the ACM Workshop on Immunoinformatics and Computational Immunology (in conjunction with the ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Health Informatics (2014)), and the Workshop on Discovery Informatics in Discovery Informatics in Biological and Biomedical Sciences: Research Challenges and Opportunities in (in conjunction with the Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing (2015)).

Honavar has served on the program committees of major research conferences in artificial intelligence, data mining, and bioinformatics including the Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD), SIAM Conference on Data Mining (SDM), IEEE Conference on Data Mining (ICDM), Intelligent Systems in Molecular Biology (ISMB), ACM Conference on Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (ACM-BCB), among others. Honavar has served as a charter member of the National Institutes of Health study section on Biological Data Management and Analysis (2002-2007).

Honavar is a senior member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and a member of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Medical Informatics Association, International Machine Learning Society, Society for Neuroscience, New York Academy of Sciences, and Sigma Xi. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for ACM Special Interest Group on Bioinformatics.

Honavar has received many awards and honors during his career including the National Science Foundation Director’s Award for Superior Accomplishment in 2013 for his leadership of the NSF Big Data Program, the National Science Foundation Director’s Award for Collaborative Integration in 2011, the Iowa Board of Regents Award for Faculty Excellence in 2007, the Iowa State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Award for Career Excellence in Research 2008, and the Iowa State University Margaret Ellen White Graduate Faculty Award in 2011. However, his proudest accomplishments are the 30 PhD students, 25 MS Students and several undergraduate researchers that he has worked with and mentored during his career.