The George H. Heilmeier Faculty Award for Excellence in Research

The George H. Heilmeier Faculty Award for Excellence in Research was established by Penn Engineering for the purpose of recognizing excellence in scholarly activities of the faculty. Named in honor of George H. Heilmeier, it recognizes his extraordinary research career, his leadership in technical innovation and public service, and his loyal and steadfast support of Penn Engineering.

2020 Heilmeier Award and Lecture

Dan Roth

Eduardo D. Glandt President’s Distinguished Professor
Department of Computer and Information Science

“It’s Time for Reasoning”
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
3:00-4:00 PM EST
Join the Zoom webinar here.
Password: 374986

The lecture will be recorded and will be made available for viewing here.

(Note: This event was previously scheduled for March 26, 2020.)


The fundamental issue underlying natural language understanding is that of semantics – there is a need to move toward understanding natural language at an appropriate level of abstraction in order to support natural language understanding and communication with computers.

Machine Learning has become ubiquitous in our attempt to induce semantic representations of natural language and support decisions that depend on it. However, while we have made significant progress over the last few years, it has focused on classification tasks for which we have large amounts of annotated data. Supporting high level decisions that depend on natural language understanding is still beyond our capabilities, partly since most of these tasks are very sparse and generating supervision signals for it does not scale.

In this lecture, Dr. Roth will discuss some of the challenges underlying reasoning – making natural language understanding decisions that depend on multiple, interdependent, models, and exemplify it using the domain of Reasoning about Time, as it is expressed in natural language.


Dan Roth is the Eduardo D. Glandt President’s Distinguished Professor of Computer and Information Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Roth’s research interests are in the computational foundations of intelligent behavior. He develops theories and systems pertaining to intelligent behavior using a unified methodology – at the heart of which is the idea that learning has a central role in intelligence. His research has contributed to major conceptual and theoretical advances in the modeling of natural language understanding, machine learning, and reasoning. In recent years he has focused on the study of machine learning and inference methods to facilitate natural language understanding and has also developed advanced machine learning based tools for natural language applications that are being used widely by the research community and commercially.

Past Recipients

2018-19:  Vivek B. Shenoy – For “pioneering multiscale models of nanomaterials and biological symptoms”

2017-18: Jason A. Burdick – For “pioneering developments in polymers for applications in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.”

2016-17: Daniel Koditschek – For “pioneering contributions in robot motion planning and legged locomotion.”

2015-16: Shu Yang– For “pioneering the synthesis and fabrication of responsive nano- and micro-structured soft materials.”

2014-15: George Pappas– For “fundamental contributions to embedded, hybrid and networked control systems.”

2013-14: John M. Vohs – For “major impact in the fields of surface science and catalysis, especially the surface science of metal oxides.”

2012-13: Vijay Kumar – For “pioneering contributions to the science and technology of cooperative robotics.”

2011-12: Karen I. Winey – For “innovative methods in the fabrication and processing of polymer-based nanotube composites.”

2010-11: Christopher S. Chen – For “fundamental contributions in the study and design of cellular microenvironments.”

2009-10: Rajeev Alur – For “fundamental contributions in software verification for real-time systems.”

2008-09: Scott Diamond – For “discoveries and innovations in high throughput screening and micro-array technology.”

2007-08: Nader Engheta – For “research contributions on nano-optics and related metamaterials.”

2006-07: Pedro Ponte-Castañeda – For “homogenization theory for estimating effective mechanical behavior of nonlinear, heterogeneous materials.”

2005-06: Dawn A. Bonnell – For “significant contributions in Nanolithography and nanostructure assembly.”

2004-05: Michael Kearns – For “significant contributions in new algorithmic ideas in game theory and machine learning.”

2003-04:  Dennis E. Discher and Daniel A. Hammer – For “research contributions in the discovery and characterization of polymersomes.”

2002-03:  David E. Luzzi – For “research in carbon nanotubes and ‘peapods’.”

2001-02:  Raymond J. Gorte – For “research discoveries in solid oxide fuel cells.”

George H. Heilmeier (EE’58)

George HeilmeierDr. George H. Heilmeier was Chairman Emeritus of Telcordia Technologies, formerly Bellcore, a leading provider of communications software and professional services. Prior to his retirement in November 1997, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He also served as Senior Vice President and Chief Technical Officer of Texas Instruments, Inc., Director of DARPA and Head of Solid State Device Research at RCA. Dr. Heilmeier received international recognition for his discovery of several new electro-optic effects in liquid crystals leading to the development of the first liquid crystal displays for watches, calculators, and instrumentation, and he held 15 patents.

Dr. Heilmeier received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and M.A., M.S.E., and Ph.D. degrees in solid-state electronics from Princeton University. He is known for his operational, technical and strategic leadership in transforming new technologies into market driven successes. Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Heilmeier received numerous awards, including the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Founders Medal, the National Academy of Engineering’s highest honor the Founders Award, the Japan Prize in Computers and Communications, the Industrial Research Institute Medal, and the National Medal of Science, among others. In 2002, he received the Pioneer of Stealth Award for “Visionary Leadership and Trailblazing Contributions of Enduring National Significance in the Development of Low Observable Aircraft.”

Dr. Heilmeier served as a White House Fellow, and was a Life Fellow of the IEEE and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was a member of the Defense Science Board, and the National Security Agency Advisory Board. He served on the Boards of Directors of TRW, the MITRE Corporation, INET Technologies Inc., Teletech Holdings, and Automatic Data Processing (ADP) Corporation. He was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and Chairman of the General Motors Technology Advisory Board. Dr. Heilmeier’s leadership in telecommunications and technology management was also recognized through honorary doctorate degrees from Stevens Institute and the Israeli Institute of Technology (the Technion).

Dr. Heilmeier passed away on April 22, 2014.