President Jackson has announced the appointment of Professor James Hendler as director of the Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications (IDEA).

Hendler, senior constellation chair and former department head, has assumed responsibility for leveraging the wealth of data science, high performance computing, predictive analytics, data visualization, and cognitive computing research being done at Rensselaer. The Rensselaer IDEA will be the hub for these and other multidisciplinary data-related programs and projects on campus, which range from health care, to business analytics, to smart buildings, to cybersecurity, according to President Jackson’s announcement.

“Big Data, broad data, high performance computing, data analytics, and Web science are creating a significant transformation globally in the way we make connections, make discoveries, make decisions, make products, and, ultimately, make progress,” said President Jackson. “The Rensselaer IDEA is our universitywide effort to maximize the capabilities of these tools and technologies for the purpose of expediting scientific discovery and innovation, developing the next generation of these digital enablers, and preparing our students to succeed and lead in this new data-driven world.”

According to President Jackson, the Rensselaer IDEA draws upon the power of four unique platforms: the CCNI supercomputing center; the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center; the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies; and the IBM Watson cognitive computing system. Finding new and exciting opportunities to connect students and faculty with these powerful platforms will strengthen the position of Rensselaer as a world leader in data-related research, she said.

Hendler is the Tetherless World Senior Constellation Chair and a member of the faculty in the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Cognitive Science. Since joining the Institute in 2007, he has also served as head of the Department of Computer Science, and as assistant dean of the Information Technology and Web Science program.

He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science and artificial intelligence from Yale University, his master’s degree in cognitive psychology and human factors engineering from Southern Methodist University, and his master’s and doctorate degrees in computer science and artificial intelligence from Brown University. He is author of more than 200 technical papers in the areas of artificial intelligence, Semantic Web, agent-based computing, and high-performance processing.

One of the inventors of the Semantic Web, an extension of the World Wide Web that enables computers to better interpret the meaning and context of words, Hendler was a recipient of a 1995 Fulbright Foundation Fellowship. He is a former member of the U.S. Air Force Science Advisory Board, as well as a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the British Computer Society, IEEE, and AAAS.

In addition to receiving numerous awards and accolades for his research and contributions to his field, Hendler serves as an “Internet Web Expert” for the U.S. government, providing guidance to the Data.gov project.