Northwestern CS Welcomes New Tenure-Track Faculty Members

Northwestern Engineering’s Department of Computer Science welcomes three core tenure-track faculty members as part of the ongoing University growth initiative.

"Our tenure track search was incredibly successful this year and, with the hiring of Kate Smith, Karan Ahuja, and Manling Li, we have made a number of advances towards our goal of hiring young superstars in multiple areas and significantly strengthening our research groups in quantum computing, HCI and AI,” said Samir Khuller, Peter and Adrienne Barris Chair of Computer Science. “We look forward to welcoming them to our rapidly growing department.”

Nikos Hardavellas, associate professor of computer science and of electrical and computer engineering, served as chair of the faculty search committee.

Karan Ahuja

Karan AhujaAhuja will join as a Lisa Wissner-Slivka and Benjamin Slivka Assistant Professor in Computer Science in fall 2024. He is currently a PhD candidate in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, specializing in novel sensing and interaction techniques. In his thesis work, Ahuja focused on increasing the fidelity of user digitization technologies while retaining or improving user practicality, opening new paradigms in augmented and virtual reality, health monitoring, natural user interfaces, and context-aware computing. Many of Ahuja’s research projects have been open-sourced, deployed in-the-wild, licensed by tech companies, and shipped as a product feature. To date, he has published more than 25 papers at top venues. He is a 2022 Siebel Scholar, a program that recognizes graduate students in business, computer science, bioengineering, and energy science for academic excellence and leadership potential. Ahuja is the editor-in-chief of ACM Crossroads (XRDS). His research has been widely covered in the media, including NBC Nightly News, Today Show, CNN, TechCrunch, Engadget, NPR, Fast Company, and Gizmodo.

Manling Li

Manling LiLi will join as an assistant professor of computer science in fall 2024. Prior to this, she will be a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford University. Li is currently a PhD student in computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Li’s research focuses on multimodal information extraction, enabling machines to discover and reason with factual knowledge from diverse modalities of information. Her work on multimodal knowledge extraction won the ACL'20 Best Demo Paper Award, and her efforts on scientific information extraction from COVID literature earned the NAACL'21 Best Demo Paper Award. She was a recipient of Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship in 2021, and was selected as a DARPA Riser in 2022, and an EE CS Rising Star in 2022. She was also awarded C.L. Dave and Jane W.S. Liu Award and has been selected as a Mavis Future Faculty Fellow. She actively contributed to the development of open-source off-the-shelf systems, including the multimodal information extraction system GAIA, COVID Claim Radar system, and SmartBook. She has more than 30 publications on multimodal knowledge extraction and reasoning, and presented tutorials about multimodal knowledge at ACL'21, AAAI'21, NAACL'22, AAAI'23, CVPR’23, etc.

Kate Smith

Kate SmithSmith will join the department in January 2024 as an assistant professor of computer science. Most recently, she was a quantum software manager at Infleqtion, where she directed projects related to optimized compilation, error mitigation, and simulation of quantum programs on a wide range of quantum technology platforms. Within the scope of quantum computing, Smith’s research focuses on computer architecture, distributed computing, technology-aware programming, simulation, and security. She co-authored the 2022 IEEE International Symposium on High-Performance Computer Architecture (HPCA) Best Paper, was named a 2021 MIT EECS Rising Star, and was a recipient of the 2021 IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Multiple Valued Logic (TC-MVL) Kenneth C. Smith Early Career Award in Microelectronics. Previously, Smith was an IBM and Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE) postdoctoral scholar in computer science at the University of Chicago. She earned a PhD in electrical engineering (2019), a master’s degree in electrical engineering (2015), and bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering (2014), all from Southern Methodist University.

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