Bieganski and Jain Selected for CS&E’s Distinguished Alumni Award

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October 3, 2017

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering has selected alums Paul Bieganski (B.S. ’88, M.S. ’90, Ph.D. ’95) and Ajay Jain (B.S. ’86) for our biennial Distinguished Alumni Award.  The award recognizes CS&E alumni who have spent their professional and research careers contributing pivotal work to the greater computer science community.  They were presented with the awards during our Eleventh Biennial Research Showcase.

Bieganski was honored for his serial entrepreneurship, building companies in sectors as diverse as software, internet, embed computers, devices, and bioinformatics.  He has invested, patented, and built companies around technologies in areas including energy management, heart-lung transplant patient monitoring, genetic sequence analysis, and e-commerce. He ​is​ ​the​ ​Founder​ ​of​ ​Packet​ ​Power,​ ​a​ ​Computer​ ​Data​ ​Center​ ​Energy​ ​Management​ ​company and​ ​Managing​ ​Partner​ ​of​ ​Big​ ​Picture​ ​Partners,​ ​a​ ​technology,​ ​venture​ ​capital​ ​and​ ​intellectual property​ ​advisory​ ​group.​

Bieganski​ ​has​ ​extensive​ ​experience​ ​with​ ​every​ ​stage​ ​of​ ​company​ ​development​ ​–​ ​from​ ​bootstrapping through​ ​angel​ ​investing​ ​and​ ​venture​ ​funding​ ​to​ ​going​ ​public​ ​and​ ​being​ ​acquired​ ​by​ ​public companies.​ ​As​ ​an​ ​investor,​ ​he​ ​believes​ ​in​ ​very​ ​active,​ ​strategic​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​tactical​ ​involvement with​ ​his​ ​portfolio​ ​companies.​ ​He ​served​ ​as​ ​the​ ​2008​ ​President​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Minnesota​ ​Venture Capital​ ​Association.

Bieganski​ ​had​ ​the​ ​privilege​ ​and​ ​good​ ​fortune​ ​of​ ​being​ ​the​ ​first​ ​doctoral​ ​student​ ​and​ ​friend​ ​of​ ​the​ ​late Professor ​John​ ​Riedl.​  Professor Riedl​ ​taught​ ​him​ ​the​ ​fundamentals​ ​of​ ​formulating​ ​research​ ​questions​ ​and presenting​ ​the​ ​answers,​ ​however​ ​great​ ​or​ ​disappointing​ ​they​ ​may​ ​turn​ ​out.​ ​​ ​He​ ​was​ ​also instrumental​ ​in​ ​fostering​ ​a​ ​unique​ ​for​ ​its​ ​time,​ ​multidisciplinary​ ​collaboration,​ ​between​ ​computer scientists​ ​and​ ​microbiologists.

Jain was honored for his work in applied machine learning within computer-aided drug design. Jain is a Professor at the University of California, San Francisco, in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1991 from Carnegie Mellon University working on computational machine learning methods.

Jain’s foundational work was done in industry, beginning with the Compass technique, which induced a predictive model of protein-ligand interaction from ligand structures and their activities. Compass captured the 3D surface-properties of small molecules so as to effectively characterize their detailed shapes and electrostatics. The Compass method overcame the problem of simultaneously inducing a model while also identifying the relevant poses of the ligands being modeled. Compass was the foundational method in establishing the field of multiple-instance learning, as it has come to be known within the Computer Science community.

Building on this work, Jain and his colleagues developed one of the first molecular docking programs that addressed ligand conformational flexibility. Given a protein binding pocket and a flexible ligand, the ligand is fit into the biding site by optimizing the score of an empirically derived scoring function. The Hammerhead docking system built upon the molecular representations, multiple-instance learning approach, and search strategy developed for Compass.

Please join the Department in extending our congratulations to Paul Bieganski and Ajay Jain.

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