Professor earns sciences award


Anita Jones, University professor emerita of computer science, was selected earlier this week to receive the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s highest distinction for her work in her field.

AAAS gives this award annually “to either a public servant, in recognition of sustained exceptional contributions to advancing science, or to a scientist whose career has been distinguished both for scientific achievement and for other notable services to the scientific community,” according to the organization’s website.

Computer Science Department Chair Kevin Skadron said he sees the award as “primarily a recognition of the huge breadth of [Jones’s] impact, spanning technical, mentorship and policy roles.”

After graduating from Rice University, Jones received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1973. While serving as an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon, Jones and her research group developed the operating system for the first large-scale multiprocessor computer system, Skadron said. Jones also co-founded software company Tartan Laboratories, which she and her husband later sold to Texas Instruments in 1987.

In 1988 she came to the University as a professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science. Skadron said Jones’ entrance transformed the entire department. “Many aspects of her legacy are still part of the foundation of the department … especially … the emphasis on collegiality and collaboration,” he said.

From 1993 to 1997 Jones took leave from the University to serve as director of defense research and engineering at the Department of Defense.

“[She was] roughly equivalent to the authority of a four-star general, and [was] responsible for oversight of DOD’s entire research and technology program,” Skadron said.

After her official retirement in 2010, Jones remained involved with the University, but also devoted time to training young women in computer science.

“It is terrific that Professor Jones is receiving this prestigious and well-deserved honor from AAAS,” said James Hilton, University vice president and chief information officer, in an email. “It draws attention to her work and service and adds to the University’s reputation.”

The award was established in 1985 in honor of the association’s longtime senior advisor, Phillip Hauge Abelson.

Jones will receive the award, along with a cash prize of $5,000 on February 15 at the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.

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