Robert Pless Named Chair of Computer Science Department

Dr. Pless is the inaugural holder of the Patrick and Donna Martin Endowed Professorship.

February 09, 2017
Robert Pless

Robert Pless joined the George Washington University Department of Computer Science recently as professor of computer science and chair of the department. Dr. Pless is the inaugural holder of the Patrick and Donna Martin Endowed Professorship, which was established in 2016 by the Patrick J. Martin Family Foundation.

“We’re grateful to Pat and Donna Martin for their very generous gift, which endowed the professorship that Dr. Pless will hold,” said David Dolling, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

“Gifts like theirs make it possible for us to compete with top schools and successfully recruit faculty of Robert Pless’ caliber. I’m very pleased that Dr. Pless has joined us at SEAS, and I’m looking forward to working with him to further develop the strengths of our computer science department.”

Patrick Martin earned his doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from SEAS and his master’s degree in mathematics from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

“Our gift is both a recognition of all that SEAS and GW have accomplished and an enabler to help the school grow in quality and reputation,” Dr. Martin said. “In our case, we focused on computer science, in part because that was my field of research, but primarily because the school identified computer science both as a need and an opportunity.”

Dr. Pless conducts research on developing computer vision algorithms for geometric inference with applications to biomedical imaging, remote sensing, robotics and social justice. He has published more than 125 journal and conference papers, including 31 with undergraduate co-authors, and several recognized with best paper awards at various international conferences.

“Across the world, computer science is a discipline that is growing and changing as computational algorithms, learning algorithms and robotic systems weave themselves into the fabric of our lives,” Dr. Pless said. “I am especially excited to join the George Washington University because its location in the nation’s capital creates special opportunities to study and impact how computing interacts with people and society.”

Dr. Pless previously was a professor of computer science at Washington University in St. Louis, where he founded and directed the Media and Machines Laboratory as a focal point for the teaching and research of machine learning, robotics, human computer interaction, graphics and vision. He received his B.S. from Cornell University and his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.

His work has been supported financially by grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Office of Naval Research, Lockheed Martin, Adobe and the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

“I am also thrilled to be leading a department with amazing faculty dedicated to teaching and research,” Dr. Pless said. “I look forward to growing this department to best suit the needs of the student body and to maximize its research impact.”

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