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