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February 6, 2004

Trustees award 2 distinguished professorships, 1 posthumous degree

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue University Board of Trustees today (Friday, 2/6) approved the appointment of two distinguished professors and one posthumous graduate degree at the West Lafayette campus.

The board also ratified the establishment of a new department and new bachelor's degree program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and approved the creation of two new departments at Purdue University Calumet.

The board approved the appointment of computer science professors Mikhail "Mike" Atallah and Douglas Comer as distinguished professors, effective immediately. With these appointments, Purdue has 83 designated professors, with 47 distinguished and 36 named professors.

"Since Purdue established the first computer science department in the nation in 1962, professors such as Mike Atallah and Doug Comer have kept the department in the forefront of research and achievement in the field," said Purdue Provost Sally Mason.

Mikhail Atallah

"Professor Atallah has an outstanding national and international reputation for his innovative, high-quality and high-impact research contributions. His work in the areas of algorithm design, parallel and distributed computing and information security have a common thread focused on the notion of cooperative computation by a number of communicating devices.

"Professor Comer is a highly recognized computer scientist. His work has had a major influence on the development of computer science education and the computer science profession, both in the U.S. and abroad. His main impact is through his books, in particular his landmark three-volume series 'Internetworking with TCP/IP,' which revolutionized networking and network education."

Atallah holds doctoral degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from Johns Hopkins University. He has been a teaching assistant and research assistant at Johns Hopkins and started his career at Purdue as an assistant professor of computer science in 1982. He was granted full professorship in 1989 and was associate head of the computer science department from 1994-96.

He received a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation in 1985. He was made a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 1997 and was included in Purdue's Book of Great Teachers in 1999.

Atallah has designed, with his students, many protocols for secure and privacy-preserving cooperative computations, which is the framework in which multiple parties interact online for the purpose of cooperatively carrying out a computation or achieving systemwide goals. This must be accomplished without revealing the private information of any of the parties, even though the jointly computed answers and decisions depend upon information from all the parties. Atallah is, or has been, a member of numerous journal editorial boards.

He has given talks in the distinguished lecturer series at several universities, including the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins, University of Florida, Ohio State University, Northwestern University and Iowa State University.

Since 2000 he has been principal investigator or co-principal investigator in nine research projects with funding from grant sources outside Purdue totaling more than $2.5 million.

Douglas Comer

Comer holds bachelor's degrees in mathematics and physics from Houghton College and a doctorate in computer science from Pennsylvania State University. He started his Purdue career in 1976 as an assistant professor, attaining full professorship in 1984. He served as dean of Interop Graduate Institute for the Softbank Corporation in Foster City, Calif., from 1996-98.

Comer's books have sold more than 500,000 copies, been translated into 16 languages and been adopted at more than 1,000 colleges and universities in the United States. He was inducted as a fellow of the Purdue Teaching Academy in 2003. His research focuses on issues in computer networks and operating systems. Most recently he has conducted research on practical applications of wireless Internet networking. Much of his work is experimental. He and his students design systems and evaluate their performance using prototype implementations.

Comer is an internationally recognized expert on TCP/IP, gives lectures at various network meetings and is a consultant to private industry. He is well known for his groundbreaking textbooks, journals and other publications.

He is the former chairman of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Distributed Systems Architecture Board and the Computer Science Network Technical Committee, and a member of the Internet Activities Board.

In 1999 he was inducted into Purdue's Book of Great Teachers, was voted Outstanding Teacher of the Year the same year by the computer science department and was given the Lifetime Achievement Award as one of the founders and major participants in the Software Tools Users Group by USENIX, the Advanced Computing Systems Association. He also is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, an educational and scientific computing society.

The board also voted to award a master's of science degree posthumously to Gary Treesh, of Indianapolis. Treesh died during the summer of 2003. The request to award the degree was made by his committee members at Krannert School of Management.

In other action, the board also approved the creation of a bachelor's degree program in forensic and investigative science in Purdue's School of Science at IUPUI. The program will offer the state's first bachelor's degree in forensic science.

"It is anticipated that the program will begin with 35 students and have 100 students after four to five years," Mason said. "With the recent creation of the Department of Homeland Security, employment opportunities are expected to increase significantly in the fields of law enforcement and forensic science."

The board also approved the establishment of the Department of Biomedical Engineering within the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI.

"We currently have a program in biomedical engineering," Mason said. "This change in status to a formal department reflects that we now have approval to offer a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering along with the existing master's and doctorate."

The board also approved the creation of a Department of Teacher Preparation and a Department of Graduate Studies in Education at Purdue Calumet.

Writer: Reni Winter, (765) 496-3133,

Sources: Mikhail Atallah, (765) 765 494-6017,

Douglas Comer, (765)

Sally Mason, (765) 494-9709

Wes Lukoshus, Purdue Calumet assistant vice chancellor for advancement, (219) 989-2217,

Rich Schneider, IUPUI director of community relations, (317) 278-4564,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Related Web site:
Purdue Department of Computer Science

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