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Michael Littman And Ellie Pavlick Receive Named Professorships

Click the links that follow for more news about Michael Littman and Ellie Pavlick.

Brown University's Department of Computer Science (Brown CS) is pleased to announce that two of its faculty members received named chairs at the May, 2020 meeting of the Corporation of Brown University. Michael Littman is now the Royce Family Professor of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science and Ellie Pavlick is now the Manning Assistant Professor of Computer Science.

Awarded for terms of three years each, and renewable for one successive term, Royce Family Professorships recognize, reward, and encourage innovation and excellence in teaching among the Brown University faculty. The Manning Assistant Professorships were established by Martha Sharp Joukowsky, Class of 1958, LHD 1985, and Artemis A. W. Joukowsky, Class of 1955, LLD 1985, parents of Michael W. Joukowsky, Class of 1987, and they honor James Manning, Brown's first president.

"I'm very flattered to have been chosen," Michael says.  Given Brown's deep commitment to education, it's quite humbling and a little intimidating to have an official title that shines a spotlight on 'teaching excellence'."

Littman earned his doctorate from Brown CS in 1996 and has been a member of the faculty since 2012. Currently co-directing Brown's Humanity-Centered Robotics Initiative, he works mainly in reinforcement learning, but has done research in machine learning, game theory, computer networking, partially observable Markov decision process solving, computer solving of analogy problems, and other areas.

Michael has earned multiple awards for teaching and research and has served on the editorial boards for The Journal of Machine Learning Research and The Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research. He served as General Chair of the International Conference on Machine Learning and Program Chair of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Conference in 2013. He's also an AAAI Fellow and was Co-Chair of the recent Reinforcement Learning and Decision Making Conference, held last year in Montreal. Mostly recently, he was named an ACM Fellow and an AAAS Leshner Fellow.

"I am extremely flattered," Ellie tells us. "It's such a privilege to be a part of Brown's community – the department is supportive, the students are bright and curious, I really couldn't imagine a better place to be building a lab."

Pavlick received her PhD in Computer and Information Science from University of Pennsylvania in 2017 and joined the Brown CS faculty in the same year. Her current research is in Natural Language Processing, specifically on computational models of semantics and pragmatics that emulate human inferences.

Also a research scientist at Google AI, Ellie won the *SEM Best Paper Award ("So-Called Non-Subsective Adjectives") and received a Facebook PhD Fellowship ("Meaning Variation in Paraphrase") in 2016. Most recently, she was a keynote speaker at the 2019 International Conference on Computational Semantics (IWCS) and gave invited talks at the 2019 New England Machine Learning and Harvard Linguistics Universals Colloquium Series. She was also Team Co-Lead for the Workshop on General Purpose Sentence Representation Learning at the 2018 Johns Hopkins Summer Workshop on Language Technology (JSALT) and Area Chair of Sentence-Level Semantics for the Association for Computational Linguistics in the same year.

Ellie and Michael join seven other holders of Brown CS endowed professorships: Eugene Charniak (University Professor of Computer Science), Maurice Herlihy (An Wang Professor of Computer Science), Sorin Istrail (Julie Nguyen Brown Professor of Computational and Mathematical Sciences and Professor of Computer Science), George Konidaris (John E. Savage Assistant Professorship in Computer Science), Roberto Tamassia (Plastech Professor of Computer Science), Eliezer Upfal (Rush Hawkins Professor of Computer Science), and Andries van Dam (Thomas J. Watson, Junior University Professor of Technology and Education and Professor of Computer Science).

For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communication Outreach Specialist Jesse C. Polhemus.