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Alumnus Michael E. Papka joins UIC computer science

Michael Papa

Michael E. Papka joined UIC’s computer science department as a professor this fall, where he brings years of interdisciplinary research and teaching experience to the university. He will also join the university’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory.

Papka’s research interests include high-performance computing, and large-scale data analysis and visualization. His current efforts focus on edge-computing-enabled smart cities, visualizing large datasets, and the use of new technologies to identify opportunities for scientific discovery.

Papka holds a joint appointment with Argonne National Laboratory, where he works as a senior scientist, and serves as deputy associate laboratory director for Computing, Environment, and Life Sciences and as director of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF). ALCF is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science scientific supercomputing facility used by the research community to pursue major discoveries and innovation through open science.

“UIC helped prepare me to work on real-world problems with interdisciplinary teams,” said Papka. “By returning to UIC, I hope to do the same for a new generation of scientists.”

Before joining UIC, Papka was a Presidential Research, Scholarship, and Artistry professor of computer science at Northern Illinois University (NIU), where he founded the Data, Devices, and Interaction Laboratory, a joint research lab between NIU’s School of Art and Design and Department of Computer Science.

Papka received his bachelor’s degree in physics from NIU, a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from UIC, and MS and PhD degrees in computer science from the University of Chicago. In addition to his past roles at NIU, he has held various joint positions at the University of Chicago and at Illinois Tech.

Papka is a senior member of the Association for Computing Machinery and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He sits on the advisory boards of Loyola University Chicago’s computer science program and Harvard University’s Institute for Applied Computational Science. He’s received honors including the Secretary of Energy Achievement Award (High-Performance Computing Resource Team) in 2021, Excellence in Teaching awards from NIU in 2016 and 2020, the UIC Alumni Association’s City Partner Award in 2014, and an R&D 100 Award in 2007. Most recently, Papka was recognized with the 2022 Argonne Board of Governors’ Pinnacle of Education Award for his contributions to science education outreach activities.