Why They Chose the UA: Regents' Professor Examines Big Picture of Big Data

Why They Chose the UA: Regents' Professor Examines Big Picture of Big Data

By Amanda BallardUniversity Communications
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Hsinchun Chen
Hsinchun Chen

Three UA professors were recently named Regents' Professors in honor of their exceptional achievements.

The designation of Regents' Professor is reserved for those who have achieved national and international recognition for their work and have made significant contributions to the University. The title serves as recognition of the highest academic merit. At any given time, only 3 percent of a university's tenured or tenure-track faculty can hold the title.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be profiling the recently inducted Regents' Professors to get a closer look at why they chose to bring their talents to the UA.

Since graduating with his doctoral degree in information systems from New York University in 1989, Hsinchun Chen has worked at one place: the UA.

In addition to being a recently inducted Regents' Professor, Chen is the Thomas R. Brown Chair of Management and Technology, as well as founding director of the UA Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Over the course of his career at the UA, he has been actively involved with the Department of Management Information Systems' undergraduate and graduate programs.

"It has been a great honor for me to receive this award," Chen said. "I deeply appreciate the support from the University, Eller and my department over the past 24 years."

Twenty years ago, before transferring large and complex data sets was the hot topic it is today, Chen was already examining the subject of "big data."

He was drawn to the UA because it had one of the most technical MIS department in the country, offering a direct, hands-on approach to research and creating tangible products. During his first year with the University, he founded the UA Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to develop new technologies and algorithms that could be applied to multiple information systems and disciplines.

The aim of Chen's work is to discover how big data can best be utilized for positive societal benefits, like building massive digital libraries or cyber attack prevention for personal medical information. His research directly impacted the expansion of scholarship in information systems, data mining, biomedical informatics and security informatics.

"Not only is Hsinchun an outstanding teacher and scholar, but his research on the big data analytics underlying cybersecurity and also human health is having tremendous real-world impact, saving lives in both those domains," said Len Jessup, dean of the Eller College of Management.

Throughout his career, Chen has received more than $30 million for 82 research grants from various organizations, including two recent grants from the National Science Foundation totaling $5.4 million for projects that will address cybersecurity research.

"I hope to continue to expand my health-care and security informatics research and make positive impacts on different facets of society," Chen said.

Chen said his favorite part of working at the UA is the ability to be innovative and groundbreaking in his academic pursuits.

Since joining the UA faculty more than two decades ago, Chen says the intellectually stimulating and supportive environment motivated him to stay with the University. He adds that Tucson has been an ideal community for his family.

"The work-life balance and the close-knit Tucson community are something unique," he said. "You get to appreciate the space, the freedom, the desert and the sunsets."

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