Jennifer Wortman Vaughan, assistant professor of computer science at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been named the holder of the Symantec Term Chair in Computer Science.

The chair was established to support the teaching and research activities of a distinguished junior faculty to foster innovation in computer science.

“Jennifer has been a great addition to our faculty,” said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of UCLA Engineering. “Her research, in the realm of artificial intelligence, is at the forefront of computer science. This chair will support Vaughan’s work on a new generation of innovative machine learning applications.”

Vaughan’s research interests are in machine learning, algorithmic aspects of economics, and social computing.  Machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence, is a scientific discipline concerned with the design and development of algorithms that allow computers to calculate behaviors or predictions based on empirical data, such as collections of documents on the Web or sets of tagged images.

It is currently one of the most active areas of computer science research, in large part because of its widespread applicability to problems as diverse as natural language processing, speech recognition, spam detection, search, computer vision, gene discovery, medical diagnosis, and robotics.

The growing popularity of the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook has led to the availability of novel sources of data on preferences, behaviors, and beliefs of massive populations of users. A major goal of Vaughan’s research is to bridge the gap between theory and practice by designing a new generation of machine learning models and algorithms to address and explain the issues commonly faced when attempting to aggregate local information across large online communities.

Vaughan has won several awards including the NSF Faculty Early Career (CAREER) Development Award, the NSF Computing Innovation Fellowship, and the University of Pennsylvania Morris & Dorothy Rubinoff Award, presented to a graduate degree candidate whose dissertation could lead to innovative applications of computer technology.

“I am very excited to be named the Symantec Term Chair,” Vaughan said.  “Symantec’s support will enable me to enhance my research efforts here at UCLA, which is especially valuable to me as an early career scientist.  I look forward to many future opportunities to interact with Symantec’s world-class team of researchers.”

Symantec was founded in 1982 by visionary computer scientists. The company is focused on providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help businesses and consumers secure and manage their information. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, Symantec has operations in more than 40 countries and employs over 3500 software engineers.

The Symantec Term Chair in Computer Science is the largest gift from Symantec to UCLA and is part of UCLA Engineering’s Enhancing Engineering Excellence (E3) initiative, a $100 million fundraising effort aimed at generating new endowed faculty chairs, graduate fellowships and undergraduate scholarships, as well as funds for capital projects and diversity initiatives.