Why UMass Rocks
- First, the department is amazing. Check out our latest brochure.
There are now more than 40 of us. Since 2000, we've hired 14 new faculty: 8 in systems, 4 in AI, and 1 in bioinformatics. They're all amazing. Nearly all of the assistant professors hired at least a year ago are NSF CAREER recipients. Here's a brief list of the newest faculty members: Emery Berger (programming languages & systems),
Oliver Brock (robotics),
Mark Corner (systems & mobility),
Yanlei Diao (databases),
Kevin Fu (security),
Deepak Ganesan (sensor networks),
David Jensen (data mining),
David Kulp (bioinformatics),
Erik Learned-Miller (machine learning & vision),
Andrew McCallum (machine learning),
Gerome Miklau (databases),
Arun Venkataramani (distributed systems & networking), and our newest hire, Rui Wang (graphics).
- While we have loads of great junior faculty members, we also have fantastic senior faculty, among the most cited in the field -- for example, UMass has the fifth largest number of faculty of any department on this list of highly cited computer scientists. (more details here.)
- The department is supremely egalitarian: assistant professors can serve on any committee and vote on any issue but tenure cases. Graduate students are also present at all of our faculty meetings and have two votes.
- We are the friendliest and most collaborative department ever. Instead of quals, our grad students do synthesis research projects that must include two professors across areas. These often result in publications, grants, and long-term collaborations. Click on the graph: each line is a collaboration between a pair of faculty members. There are lots of lines.
- The area -- Amherst/Northampton -- is beautiful, cosmopolitan, and
liberal. We are in the midst of a sea of some of the top academic
institutions in the world: Amherst
College, Smith College, and Mount Holyoke College -- together
with UMass, these are The Five
Colleges. The surrounding area is gorgeous (woods and hills, not
far from the Berkshires). It's the bluest city in the bluest state in
America, with the highest percentage of voters for Kerry of any city
in America (tied with Cambridge). The area is also full of educated
folks: 42% have graduate degrees -- nearly the highest percentage in
- The restaurant scene is unusually strong. Thai, African, serious
Chinese (the owners run an organic Chinese vegetable farm, which is
the source of their numerous vegetable dishes), the best ice
cream known to man (including a shop run by Steve Herrell, the guy who
invented the gourmet ice cream biz, as well as
mixins), French, Indian, Korean, Mexican, Argentinean,
Moroccan, plus a ridiculous (the New York Times says "unsustainable")
number of sushi restaurants. (Also, recent HuffPo article here.)
- Incidentally, the area is also a mecca for beer connoisseurs, with the #1 beer
bar in America, according to the Beer Advocate magazine -- the Moan & Dove (the
site of our monthly faculty beer), surely matched by their
newly-opened sister bar in Northampton, The Dirty Truth (see more on the Beer Advocate's page).
- The culture part: the presence of a large university, four
major colleges, plus institutions like the National Yiddish Book
Center means there is a wealth of cultural activity of every
stripe: art, music, theater, and fascinating speakers. The educated
crowd also supports the presence of three art cinemas, two in
Northampton just down the road, and a newly renovated one right in downtown Amherst.