May 14, 2010

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Elke Rundensteiner, professor of computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), received the Chairman's Exemplary Faculty Prize today during the university’s 142nd Commencement exercises. Established in 2007 through the personal philanthropy of Donald K. Peterson ’71, chair of the WPI Board of Trustees and former Chairman and CEO of Avaya Inc., the prize honors WPI faculty members for overall excellence.

Unlike WPI's Board of Trustees Awards, which recognize excellence in particular areas of faculty performance (teaching, research and scholarship, and advising), the Chairman's Exemplary Faculty Prize, in the amount of $10,000, recognizes and rewards faculty members who excel in all relevant areas of faculty performance. “They are true exemplars of the Institute's highest aspirations and most important qualities," WPI President Dennis Berkey noted in announcing the new awards.

Over the past two decades, Elke Rundensteiner has developed an international reputation as one of the top researchers in the field of database systems. Known for taking on the most critical and challenging problems in the discipline, she established an original and influential body of research on the use and management of views, a central concept in database design, early in her career. She later pioneered a new approach to the difficult problems related to data independence, and she was the first to apply materialized views, which can vastly increase query processing time, to object-oriented databases. More recently, she has moved into the frontier of managing and processing continuously streaming data, work that is redefining the notion of data management.

Her pioneering work has been supported by a steady stream of external awards from the National Science Foundation (including the NSF Young Investigator Award, the agency's most prestigious award for your faculty members) and major technology companies such as IBM and Hewlett Packard, which presented her with the highly competitive HP Labs Innovation Research Award.

She has shared her work in more than 300 articles in top journals and presentations at the most competitive conferences. She has also frequently developed software demonstrations (highly anticipated at major database conferences) that apply the theories she developed through her research. Her accomplishments have been recognized with a string of honors, including the IBM Corporate Partnership Award, as well as WPI's Sigma Xi Senior Faculty Research Award and its Board of Trustees Award for Outstanding Creative Scholarship and Research.

Rundensteiner's passion for research is equaled by her dedication to helping her students prepare for successful careers in academia and industry. Described by students as patient, nurturing, and creative, she skillfully guides them through the rigors and frustrations of research and regularly takes them to conferences, where they find that as "Elke's students," they are accorded immediate respect.

A talented teacher, Rundensteiner has helped advance a number of innovations in WPI's computer science curriculum and played an active role in faculty governance, most recently chairing the faculty Committee on Graduate Studies and Research. She also serves her profession, sitting on the program committees for major conferences and the editorial boards of several top journals.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. WPI's 18 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to the BA, BS, MS, ME, MBA and PhD. WPI's world-class faculty work with students in a number of cutting-edge research areas, leading to breakthroughs and innovations in such fields as biotechnology, fuel cells, and information security, materials processing, and nanotechnology. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Projects Program. There are more than 20 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.