Schum Receives 2006 Volgenau Outstanding Faculty Research Award

Posted: March 23, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

David Schum, professor of systems engineering and operations research and law, is the winner of the 2006 Outstanding Faculty Research Award from the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering (IT&E).

The award was given for his lifetime of research on properties, the uses and discovery of evidence in probabilistic reasoning and homeland security and counterterrorism issues.

“It was as pleasant as it was unexpected,” says Schum. “We have so many people at this university involved in information technology and engineering that I think would be equally deserving. I think I was lucky.”

Schum, who spends a quarter of his time fulfilling his duties as a professor of law, has worked with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“Most of my work involves various evidentiary considerations,” he says. “For example, the work I do with intelligence services basically involves helping analysts do a better job of what’s been called ‘connecting the dots,’ or putting lots of different pieces of information together and drawing defensible and persuasive conclusions from it. There are some ways in which this task can be assessed by appropriate computer facilities, but there are other aspects of it that you can’t expect a computer to do. This type of work requires knowing more about evidence and its various roles.”

“The committee felt that Dr. Schum should be the recipient of this year’s award given the breadth and impact of his contributions during his career,” says Daniel Menasce, the associate dean for research and graduate studies and a professor of computer science in IT&E. “He is an internationally recognized expert in probabilistic reasoning and has successfully applied his theories to such areas as intelligence analysis and legal case reasoning.”

“Dave is a world leader in marshaling evidence, the science of probabilistic reasoning in discovery and verification of evidence,” says Ariela Sofer, chair of the Department of Systems Engineering and Operations Research. “Dave is a true scholar, combining unique knowledge in several domains and, more importantly, being able to synthesize this knowledge and produce novel results. A Renaissance scholar in the best tradition, he is inquisitive, broad, and constantly raising new questions.”

The author or co-author of six books and numerous academic journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings, Schum was a professor of psychology for two decades at Rice University before coming to George Mason in 1985. During his academic career he has presented 240 papers at various academic conferences, meetings and colloquia.

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