Retiring Faculty 2014-2015
Christopher M. Brown
Chris “CB” Brown was a founding member of the Department of Computer Science in 1974. He has remained on the faculty since then, served as department chair from 1983 to 1987, and has provided continuous leadership on several core committees with special attention to both graduate and undergraduate curriculum development. He retired on June 30, 2015, and is the department’s first retiree.
Brown received a BA in philosophy from Oberlin College in 1967, and studied linguistics there with an eye toward artificial intelligence and natural language processing. He received the MA and PhD from the Committee on Information Sciences at the University of Chicago in 1972 after working in robotics and computational vision. He did his postdoctoral research in robotics at the University of Edinburgh from 1972 to 1975 under Donald Michie. He was recruited to the University of Rochester by Herbert Voelcker of mechanical engineering.
In his four decades with the University, Brown made foundational contributions to his own area of research. His research explored nearly every important area of computer vision, robotics, and the broader field of artificial intelligence. Brown and University colleague Dana Ballard founded the Computer Vision Laboratory, an important center in the then new field of machine vision. The laboratory pioneered the concept of “active vision,” which is now central to the field. It also created the world’s second binocular robot head (and the first fast one) to study how the human ability to track objects visually and to saccade (i.e., move the high-resolution center of vision rapidly between points of interest) might provide a model for effective use of computer resources for visual tasks. Several of Brown’s students made early and influential contributions in the use of probabilistic methods to guide computational vision. Brown and Ballard also published Computer Vision (Prentice Hall, 1982), which served as the field’s defining text for many years and 13 printings.
Throughout his tenure, Brown was a visionary leader and inspiration to students and colleagues. He served as primary supervisor for 16 doctoral students, including Rick Rashid, a senior vice president for research at Microsoft; and Yiannis Aloimonos, a world-renowned leader in computer vision at the University of Maryland. He supervised several postdoctoral fellows, including Kyriakos Kutulakos, senior professor at the University of Toronto. He also published more than 100 papers in peer-reviewed publications and 18 book chapters in addition to Computer Vision, and edited several collections.
Over the course of his career, Brown served on countless program committees, editorial boards, and grant review panels, operating at the center of the international computer vision community. He was a member of the Association for Computing Machinery and of the Cognitive Science Society.
Brown created many courses both at the graduate and undergraduate levels, including topics in machine vision, parallel computation, robotics, and artificial intelligence, as well as cryptography, undergraduate honors thesis courses, and the department’s foundational data structures and advanced programming classes. In 2002, an undergraduate team he supervised built “Mabel the Robot Table,” a mobile service robot that, as did its successor, placed in the annual international robot competitions sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. According to one undergraduate student, Brown “makes us figure out how to do the hard stuff.”
Early in his career, Brown and his colleagues secured a series of multimillion-dollar block grants from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation. Individual grants followed from the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Office of Naval Research, New York State, Kodak, and local industries. These grants helped build the infrastructure and continuity that allowed the department to become world class.
Brown has a wide range of interests outside of computer science. He has played trombone, banjo, classical guitar, and electric bass. As part of the department band, the Algo-Rhythms, he writes lyrics and performs for graduations, retirements, and more. He spent two seasons in summer stock on Cape Cod after college and is active in Rochester community musical theater, especially with the Gilbert and Sullivan troupe, the Off-Monroe Players. He crossed the Atlantic in the USA Bicentennial Tall Ships Race in 1976, and was third in his age group in the 1981 Rochester Marathon. He retired from the Computer Science Hockey Club early on as a danger to himself and others. He is also a home brewer.
As a researcher, teacher, and inspirational leader as well as a colleague with wide-ranging interests and knowledge, unexpected talents, and a wry sense of humor, Brown will be sorely missed.
Alfred Geier joined the University as assistant professor of classics in 1963. Six years later, he was promoted to associate professor. Geier did his undergraduate studies in the great books program of St. John’s College in Queens, NY. After graduating, he served two years in the U. S. Army. He then received an MA in political science from the University of Chicago, where he met and was influenced by Leo Straus, a German-American political philosopher and classicist. In 1963, Geier earned his PhD in classics from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.
Geier spent his career at the University of Rochester. In 2015, he completed a remarkable 50 years of teaching here. During that half century, Geier taught the complete range of Greek and Latin courses, including upper-level courses in the main classical authors, as well as a variety of courses on ancient Greek intellectual history.
Geier’s main research and teaching interest was on the work of Plato. He engaged generations of students in close, collaborative reading of the texts, employed the Socratic method, and encouraged wide-ranging discussions.
Many of Geier’s devoted students returned to Rochester over the years to participate in marathon weekend readings of a Greek text. One of his former students commented that “the experience of Al Geier’s seminars was about as close as one could come to those Socrates-guided discussions, described by Plato, which were, after all, the very root of the Western way towards truth.”
In the 1986-87 academic year, Geier’s play Plato’s Cave, based on the famous scene in The Republic was performed on campus. In 2002, he published Plato’s Erotic Thought: The Tree of the Unknown (University of Rochester Press). During his retirement, he hopes to write a sequel to this book.
Named professor emeritus in 2015, Nicholas George’s influence and impact on the field of optics has been felt throughout the world. In recognition of that, University of Rochester President Joel Seligman celebrated George’s career in April 2015 with the announcement of the newly created Nicholas George Endowed Professorship in Optics. He retired in February 2015.
George received a BS degree with highest honors from University of California–Berkeley, an MS degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland, and a PhD degree in electrical engineering and physics from the California Institute of Technology.
For almost 38 years, George served as the Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Electronic Imaging, professor of optics, and professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University. He pioneered basic research in holography with the discovery of the holographic stereogram; invented the ring-wedge photo detector; and developed the first robot vision device to sort medical X-rays and photographs of dogs versus cats, a long-standing challenge in the field. He is credited with being the first person to develop a theory for the space and wavelength dependence of speckle, which has been applied to remote sensing of satellites and space debris.
In addition, George was the founding director of the Center for Electronic Imaging Systems (funded in part by the National Science Foundation under the S/IUCRC program) and of the highly rated ARO-URI Center for Opto-Electronic Systems Research. From 1977 until 1981, he was director of the Institute of Optics. In that role, he significantly expanded the Industrial Associates program.
George has been a friend, dedicated teacher, insightful colleague, and superb mentor to many of the University’s faculty, staff, and students. Over the course of his career, he advised more than 50 graduate thesis students. In honor of his commitment to graduate education, the Professor Nicholas George Endowed Graduate Student Scholarship was established in 2013. The department is grateful that he will continue to engage in projects and serve as a resource for the Institute of Optics as professor emeritus.
Bruce Jacobs joined the Department of Political Science at the University of Rochester in 1973. Having obtained his PhD from Harvard in 1979, Jacobs has since focused his research on domestic social policy, specifically in the areas of aging, housing, poverty, and higher education. He was promoted to professor in 1992. On June 30, 2015, he retired.
Jacobs served many roles during his University tenure. In 1975, he initiated the department’s public policy analysis program, which offered a master’s degree. From 1986 to 1989, he served as director of admissions to the political science PhD program. From 1989 to 1996, he was the public policy program director. From 1999 to 2011, he was dean of graduate studies, during which time he appointed nearly 2,000 University faculty members to chair PhD defenses.
Outside the University, Jacobs was elected president of the Association of Graduate Schools, which includes graduate school deans from all AAU schools. He also was a member of the executive committee of the Graduate Record Examination board and of the board of the Council of Graduate Schools. Jacobs also codirected the evaluation of the federal government’s community action program, The Political Economy of Organizational Change: Urban Institutional Response to the War on Poverty (New York: Academic Press, 1981). Jacobs also codirected a national study of elderly homeowners: Old Folks at Home (New York: Free Press, 1980), with Alvin Rabushka.
Jacobs has taught a variety of public policy courses, including those in domestic social policy, aging and public policy, controversies in public policy, and organizational behavior. He wrote the first two peer-reviewed journal articles on what are now called “reverse mortgages”: “The National Potential of Home Equity Conversion,” The Gerontologist (26:5 October, 1986) and “Using Home Equity to Finance Long-term Care,” Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law (12:1 Spring 1987) with William Weissert.
Joanna B. Olmsted, professor of biology and dean emerita of the School of Arts & Sciences, retired on June 30, 2015, at which time she also became professor emerita of biology.
Olmsted completed a PhD in biology at Yale University followed by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She joined the University of Rochester as assistant professor of biology in 1975; she was promoted to associate professor in 1981 and to professor in 1987.
Olmsted played a significant role in the growth and development of the Department of Biology. Her energy, work ethic, and good nature were legendary. She served on 11 faculty search committees, chairing four of them. She was responsible for obtaining federal funds for the two most expensive pieces of departmental equipment (an electron microscope and a confocal microscope), which helped recruit modern cell and developmental biologists. She supervised the operation of these instruments and graciously guided many faculty members, students, and technical staff in their use.
Olmsted was a willing and excellent teacher at both introductory and advanced levels, and she gave a large number of undergraduates the opportunity to do independent research in her laboratory. She initiated and taught an interdepartmental cell biology course that attracted not only advanced biology undergraduates and graduate students but also became an essential part of the undergraduate and graduate programs in a number of medical school departments. She trained eight PhD students and four postdoctoral fellows.
Olmsted was also a sought-after PhD committee member and/or chair. She served on 46 PhD thesis committees, 13 of them in six different medical school departments. Longtime department chair Marty Gorovsky states, “Having served on many of those committees with Joanna, I can attest to the contributions her high standards, critical insights, and encyclopedic knowledge of cell biology made to those students’ theses. She was in demand for these committees for good reason.”
In addition to her remarkable list of contributions to the department and the University, Olmsted was a well-known and highly respected cell biologist. She published 51 papers and served on numerous grant review panels and on the editorial boards of two major journals. Her research on microtubules and their associated proteins was funded continuously for 25 years by NIH and/or the National Science Foundation. She was also an invited speaker at numerous universities and scientific symposia.
Beyond her distinguished career as a scientist, Olmsted provided remarkable service to the University in several administrative roles, beginning in 1995 with her appointment as associate dean of the faculties and culminating in her appointment as dean of the School of Arts & Sciences in 2007. During her time as dean, she worked tirelessly on behalf of the faculty and propelled major investments that greatly strengthened the faculty and academic departments. She excelled at every level of academia: teacher, mentor, scholar, researcher, colleague, and administrator.
Russell Peck, professor emeritus of English and the John H. Deane Professor Emeritus of Rhetoric and Poetry, joined the department in 1961 after receiving a BA from Princeton University and a PhD from Indiana University. He is a distinguished scholar and editor, an extraordinary teacher, a devoted advisor, and an unfailingly generous colleague.
Peck’s scholarly work in medieval studies has been recognized with fellowships and awards from, among others, the Danforth Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has received an Endowed Chair in the Humanities from the College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, the Olive B. O’Connor Chair from Colgate University, the Doctor of Humane Letters from the State University of New York, and the Medieval Academy of America’s Robert L. Kindrick-CARA Award for Outstanding Service to Medieval Studies.
Peck also cofounded the Gower Society, and he has served as associate editor of Mediaevalia and the general editor of the Medieval English Text Series. He has served on advisory and executive committees for, among others, PMLA Bibliography, the New Chaucer Bibliographies, the Haskins Medal Committee of the Medieval Academy of America, the Society of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Modern Language Association, the NEH Judiciary Board on Collaborative Projects, and the NEH Judiciary Board on Research (for the development and preservation of special collections).
Peck’s commitment to making medieval studies and texts available to a wide range of students led to his directing a series of National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) seminars during the 1980s and 1990s and, beginning in 1990, to his directing the Medieval English Text Series (METS). Supported by a succession of NEH grants and published for the Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages (TEAMS), METS is an extensive editing project dedicated to making a range of medieval writing accessible to scholars, teachers, and students. Whether taught alone or alongside more readily available canonical texts, METS print and electronic editions enrich the educational possibilities of medieval classrooms and expand their cultural and literary analyses.
Peck has brought seamless dedication to scholarship and teaching in medieval studies to his courses, his mentoring of the graduate students who work on METS, and his advising of undergraduate research internships in Rare Books and Special Collections. He has brought his commitment to excellence to recent work that established a new series of research opportunities through the Friends of the Library. His passion for theater and education is also evidenced through the English Department’s popular Theater in England program, which he founded and has directed for several decades.
Over the years, Peck has received many honors, including the E. Harris Harbison Award for Gifted Teaching from the Danforth Foundation. From the University of Rochester, he has received the Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the Student Association Award for Undergraduate Teaching, the Student Association Professor of the Year, and the Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Education.
Peck, who retired on June 30, 2015, will continue to supervise the TEAMS/METS editing project and promises to be a vital and highly valued presence on campus for many years to come.
Grace Seiberling retired from the Department of Art and Art History in June 2015 but continues to teach part time.
Seiberling joined the University of Rochester in 1974 as an instructor following a series of one-year visiting positions at the University of Missouri–Columbia, Vassar, and Wellesley. Her undergraduate work in art history at Bryn Mawr led her to pursue graduate education at Yale University, from which she received a PhD in 1976.
Her dissertation, later published by Garland, on Monet’s series engaged her in one of her most lasting scholarly interests, Impressionism. She curated an exhibition on Monet in London at the High Museum in Atlanta and contributed to a Monet exhibition in Madrid, Spain.
While thinking about Monet’s work, she began to look systematically at photographs at George Eastman House. An investigation of photographs of old trees by early British photographers led to collaboration with British scholar Carolyn Bloore. Together they curated an exhibition on 1850s British photography called A Vision Exchanged, and published the book, Amateurs, Photography, and the Mid-Victorian Imagination.Seiberling and Bloore have continued to collaborate and are currently investigating how groups of photographs, which later formed the core of museum collections, were accumulated. Questions of how groups of people collaborate to produce and represent cultural ideas led her to investigate museums, cultural tourism, and the art market.
Seiberling has been dedicated to inspiring and supporting students, both as a teacher and as a major and pre-major advisor. She has made sure that her students experience works of art firsthand by sending them on assignment to the Memorial Art Gallery (where she impressed the staff by reading on the spot) and by ensuring ample exposure to the unique resources in the George Eastman House archives for students in her history of photography classes.
Seiberling was part of the group that started the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies. She has been an associate of the institute since the beginning, serving at intervals on the steering committee. She also set a record for years of service on the grants committee.
A longtime resident of the city who values her life in an urban community, Seiberling has been active on the Monroe Village Task Force. She enjoys the unparalleled access to the arts in Rochester and can frequently be found watching films at the Dryden Theatre or attending concerts at Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre.
Turner’s main research interest is the physical chemistry of ribonucleic acid (RNA). His group and collaborators elucidated many of the fundamental principles that determine RNA structure. The insights advanced methods for predicting RNA structure from sequence. The results are widely used by biochemists and biologists, especially since sequencing of DNA and RNA became common.
Turner has published over 200 papers that have been cited more than 15,000 times. The research was mostly done by the 44 PhD and nine postdoctoral students who worked in his lab.
Over his career, Turner received a Sloan Fellowship for research at Rochester, and National Institutes of Health (NIH), American Cancer Society, and Guggenheim Fellowships for sabbaticals at the University of Colorado. He was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and gave the 2011 Gordon Hammes Lectureship of the Biological Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society. He also served on numerous NIH Study Sections. In 2014, he received Rochester’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Graduate Education.
Turner taught undergraduate general chemistry for several decades and infused it with many biological applications. He also emphasized the importance of creativity by having students compose songs or poems with chemistry themes. More than a dozen undergraduates are coauthors of papers from the Turner lab.
Turner was associate director of the MD/PhD program for more than 15 years. He also promoted interaction between the College and the School of Medicine and Dentistry by founding and directing the chemistry department’s biological chemistry cluster, which holds a yearly chemistry-biology-biophysics retreat. He will continue pursuing RNA research at Rochester with his group’s NIH grant, which has been continuously funded since 1976.
Robert C. Waag
Robert C. Waag, the Arthur Gould Yates Professor of Engineering, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and professor of imaging sciences, retired on June 30, 2015.
Born in Pennsylvania, Waag attended Cornell University, where he received BEE and MS degrees in electrical engineering and a PhD degree in communications engineering in 1961, 1963, and 1965, respectively. After being awarded his doctoral degree, Waag served as an officer in the United States Air Force.
In 1969, Waag joined the faculty at the University of Rochester as assistant professor of electrical engineering. His academic career continued here with a joint appointment in the Department of Radiology in 1973 and promotions to associate professor in 1975, professor in 1985, and the Arthur Gould Yates Professor of Engineering in 1994. During his early years at Rochester, Waag was introduced to the field of diagnostic ultrasound, which was to be the major field of his academic work for decades to come.
For more than 45 years, Waag worked at the leading edge of research in medical ultrasound. Through his work, he made seminal contributions to the field in a number of ultrasound areas, including cardiac imaging, scattering from tissue, Doppler signal processing, tissue characterization, wave propagation in inhomogeneous tissue, and aberration correction for imaging systems.
Waag has received awards from the Radiological Society of North America, National Institutes of Health, World Federation for Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, and the Japan Society of Ultrasonics in Medicine. He served as a visiting professor at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany, University of Paris, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chemie Industrielles de laVille de Paris.
Waag held leadership positions in the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine. He is also a member of Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Xi.
Waag served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Ultrasound, Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology, and IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. In 1975, he coedited, with Raymond Gramiak, one of the earliest textbooks in the ultrasound field, Cardiac Ultrasound. He has since authored or coauthored many publications in premier peer-reviewed archival journals, presented numerous lectures at international conferences, collaborated with professionals across the globe, and guided many graduate students. He holds two U.S. patents.
David Walsh joined the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Rochester as assistant professor in 1972, having earlier received a PhD from the University of Minnesota in art and history of the middles ages. His dissertation dealt with late-12th-century bronze doors in southern Italy.
As a graduate student, Walsh was involved with the archaeological excavation of the Roman period in Yugoslavia and continued work in archaeology in England at Deerhurst (an Anglo-Saxon church) and at Bordesley Abbey (a Cistercian monastery) as well as other church sites.
Archaeology brought an interest in reconstructing architecture, an approach and subject that informed his analysis of architecture in the Middle Ages, as well as ancient and modern buildings. Over his career, his research involved a variety of buildings and sites from mills and domestic architecture to extensive ecclesiastical/monastic sites.
For the past 20 years, Walsh worked with a team studying the remains of the great Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy, applying archaeological methods of analysis and visual presentation of the remains of the standing building and associated fragments.
For Walsh, the classroom has offered the opportunity to teach areas that were not subjects of publication. For example, in archaeology Walsh saw an opportunity to combine theories and approaches of several disciplines, including history, art history, anthropology, and scientific analysis. His course on barbarian Europe dealt with a period not usually considered in U.S. academic study and teaching (which often ignores the contributions of the “barbarian” people of central and northern Europe). In the case of such a course, as in publication, Walsh employed various disciplines and methodologies to engage his students.
Walsh retired on June 30, 2015.