According to the campus News Office, Lixin Gao of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department was one of three faculty members at UMass Amherst who were appointed Distinguished Professors following approval by the Board of Trustees at its June 20 meeting. The title Distinguished Professor is conferred on select, highly accomplished faculty who have already achieved the rank of professor and who meet a demanding set of qualifications.
In their letter of nomination, UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and Provost John McCarthy wrote, “Professor Gao’s accolades for her research contributions are extensive. Most notably, she has been elected fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), both highly selective achievements that are reserved for a small number of the most outstanding researchers. Her publications have received several best paper awards and, more impressively, a test-of-time award that highlights the lasting impact of her work.”
Gao has published more than 180 journal and conference publications, which have been cited in total more than 14,000 times, giving her a prestigious “h-index” of 50. An h-index of 50 means that she has published 50 articles that have each been cited at least 50 times. Her research in data communication networks, multimedia computing, and data-intensive computing has been supported through numerous external research grants from the National Science Foundation, industry, and others. External reviewers cite her extraordinary contributions to and impact on networking. One reviewer states, “A distinguishing characteristic of her work is that it is very much grounded in the problems of real network systems, and so her work has had impact on both the research community and the networking industry at large.”
Gao’s preeminence as a scholar in the research community was noted by all external reviewers, one of whom stated, “Professor Gao has made seminal contributions in the fields of Internet routing and video‐on-demand. She is considered to be a leading researcher in the field of computer networks.”
Gao has received the National Science Foundation CAREER award and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation award.
Gao earned her Ph.D. in computer science at UMass Amherst and joined the faculty in 2000 as associate professor after four years as assistant professor at Smith College. She was promoted to professor in 2007.
As Subbaswamy and McCarthy wrote, “Professor Gao has taught extensively at the undergraduate and graduate level. The goals of her instruction are to engage students and bring examples from her research experience into the classroom. She has implemented peer-learning opportunities for her students in her sophomore data structures course. She has also been a mentor to numerous doctoral and master’s students who have launched successful careers after graduating.”
“Especially worth noting is Professor Gao’s extensive professional service on conference and review committees,” Subbaswamy and McCarthy wrote. “She has served on the editorial board of several prestigious journals and as chair of one of the main networking conferences. She has also served on the technical program committees of numerous major ACM and IEEE conferences. She has also provided valuable service to the university.”
Qualifications for the title of Distinguished Professor include outstanding research, teaching, and/or public service contributions that are widely recognized; an extraordinary level of productivity and impact in his/her field of study; a level of productivity and impact that has been demonstrated for an extended time; pre-eminence in his/her field; recognition by professional organizations for outstanding contributions; being a person who would be a major loss to the university if he/she were to leave; and being a role model for faculty and students. (July 2018)