Edward Fox was an undergraduate on the cusp of launching his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he joined the Association for Computing Machinery.

Fifty years later, Fox has been named a 2017 ACM Fellow for his contributions to information retrieval and digital libraries.

"To be selected as a Fellow is to join our most renowned member grade and an elite group that represents less than 1 percent of ACM’s overall membership,” explained association President Vicki L. Hanson. “The Fellows program allows us to shine a light on landmark contributions to computing, as well as the men and women whose hard work, dedication, and inspiration are responsible for groundbreaking work that improves our lives in so many ways."

Fox’s long history of service at ACM reflects his dedication to the organization. Presently he is program chair for the 2018 ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries — also serving as general chair in 2001 and as a member of the steering committee since 2003. Fox was editor for information retrieval and digital libraries in the ACM Books series; founder and co-editor-in-chief for the ACM Journal of Educational Resources in Computing; and a member of the editorial board for ACM Transactions on Information Systems.

Other positions Fox has held at ACM include: vice chair and then chair of the Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval from 1987 to 1995; founder and chairman of the steering committee for the ACM Multimedia conferences from 1992 to 1994; and founder and chairman of the steering committee for the ACM Digital Libraries series of conferences from 1995 to 1998.  He received ACM Recognition of Service Awards in 1991, 1995, 1996, 1999, and 2012.

Currently Fox holds several positions at Virginia Tech as a professor in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering. By courtesy he is faculty in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Fox is also a faculty member in the Discovery Analytics Center; the Center for Human-Computer Interaction; the Global Change Center; and the VT Center for Autism Research, as well as director of the Digital Library Research Laboratory.

Fox joined Virginia Tech in 1983. He received the university’s XCaliber Award in 2016 in recognition for his work in developing and enhancing two computer science courses, Computational Linguistics and Informational Retrieval. Both focus on student engagement and mastery of the material and are designed to provide students with skills that are in great demand in the workplace.

His work with information retrieval and librarianship can also be seen outside the classroom in Virginia Tech’s branding. In 1984 Fox registered several different domain names, in addition to the current one, through a National Science Foundation-funded project called CSnet. By 1987, “vt.edu” was the officially registered domain used by the campus.

Fox also led Virginia Tech in joining the Cloudera Academic Partnership in 2015, providing the university with educational resources and support provided by this leading company in the area.

Earlier in 2017, he was named an IEEE Fellow. He has been a senior IEEE member since 2004.

Fox’s research interests include all aspects of Information, including theory, algorithms, systems, experimental studies, web, social networks, natural language processing, and user interaction/ usability. His related international service include founder and executive director of the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.

He has been a principal or co-principal investigator on 124 research grants/contracts, taught more than 82 tutorials, and has given 66 keynote/distinguished/international invited talks. He has authored or coauthored 18 books, 129 journal/magazine articles, 49 books chapters, 219 refereed conference/workshop papers, 74 posters, and more than 160 other publications/reports. He has given more than 330 additional talks.

Fox received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.S. and  Ph.D. in computer science from Cornell University.

As an undergraduate, Fox’s mentor was J.C.R. Licklider, sometimes called “the grandfather of the Internet” for having administered the first grants for work on the Internet while working at DARPA. Another computer science pioneer, Gerard A. "Gerry" Salton, often referenced as "the father of information retrieval," was Fox’s advisor and mentor at Cornell. They published a number of papers together.

“I am so honored to be selected as an ACM Fellow,” said Fox. “I am very grateful for the help from all of my mentors over the years, especially Drs. Licklider and Salton, and for all my collaborators, colleagues, and students; Virginia Tech; the computer science department; those involved in electronic theses/dissertations; sponsors; the information retrieval and digital library communities; and my wonderful family. They have all been instrumental in my success.”

The 54 Fellows chosen this year hail from universities, companies, and research centers in Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They will be honored at an awards banquet in San Francisco in June.

Written by Barbara L. Micale

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