Hal Jurist ’61 and his wife, Heather, aspire to make an impact on some of the world’s greatest problems: climate change, world poverty, clean and accessible energy solutions, pandemics and access to healthcare. One way to advance these issues is through government action, Hal says, and another is through universities.
“Heather and I feel strongly about preserving the world we live in. We believe universities have the power to shape the world,” he says. “We’re hopeful that by giving to universities, they’ll work on the issues we care about.”
To that end, the Jurists have made a significant seven-figure contribution to Beyond These Towers: The Campaign for WPI, advancing WPI toward its $350 million philanthropy and overall $500 million goals.
Their gift will advance faculty research by establishing an endowed deanship through a bequest as well as by funding the Harold L. Jurist ’61 and Heather E. Jurist Dean’s Professors. Distinguished faculty who are named the Jurist Dean’s Professors are pursuing cutting-edge research in one of WPI’s multidisciplinary concentrations focused on the smart world: robotics, decision-making/autonomous robots, cyber security systems, biomedical devices/image analysis, climate change, sustainable fuels/energy, environmental science/adaption, and other disciplines closely aligned with these research areas.
The first Jurist Deans Professors were announced this fall: Emmanuel Agu, computer science professor; Danielle Cote, mechanical engineering assistant professor; Dmitry Korkin, computer science professor; Pratap Rao, mechanical engineering associate professor; Carolina Ruiz, computer science professor.
“This generous gift from Hal and Heather Jurist recognizes the School of Arts and Sciences’ leading researchers in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and biomedical data analytics,” says Jean King, the Peterson Family Dean of Arts and Sciences.
“Carolina Ruiz is an expert in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data mining who is a founder and core member of the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Program, the Data Science Program, and the Neuroscience Program at WPI. Emmanuel Agu’s research in the areas of computer graphics, mobile computing, and wireless networks—with a particular focus on using smartphones to deliver better healthcare—has received funding from NSF, NIH, DARPA, the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Army Research Labs, Google, and others. Dmitry Korkin’s interdisciplinary research spans the fields of bioinformatics, computational genomics, systems biology, and biomedical data analytics—a recent example of which is the structural 3D roadmap of the novel coronavirus that he and his team created and shared with the scientific community. These three researchers exemplify cutting-edge and multidisciplinary scholarship in the expansive field of smart world research. We are beyond appreciative to the Jurist family.”