Gregory D. Abowd

Dean of the College of Engineering,  Office of the Dean
Professor,  Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Research Focus

Human-Computer Interaction, Ubiquitous Computing, Software Engineering

About

Gregory D. Abowd is Dean of the College of Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Northeastern University.  Prior to joining Northeastern in March 2021, he was a Regents’ Professor and held the J.Z. Liang Chair in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he also served as Associate Dean of Research and Space for the College of Computing. Abowd is an internationally renowned and highly cited scientist, well known for his contributions in the general area of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and specifically for his groundbreaking research in ubiquitous computing.

In more than 26 years at Georgia Tech, Dr. Abowd initiated bold and innovative research efforts, such as Classroom 2000 and the Aware Home, as well as pioneering innovations in autism and technology, health systems, CampusLife, and a joint initiative with engineering in computational materials. He was on the founding editorial board of IEEE Pervasive Computing Magazine, and was founding Editor-in-Chief of Foundations and Trends in HCI and The Proceedings of the ACM in Interactive, Mobile, Wearable, and Ubiquitous Technologies. He also founded the non-profit Atlanta Autism Consortium in 2008 to serve and unite the various stakeholder communities in Atlanta connected to autism research and services.

Dean Abowd’s contributions to the fields of Human-Computer Interaction and Ubiquitous Computing have been recognized through numerous awards. In 2008, he was named a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. That same year, he was inducted into the ACM CHI Academy, the most prestigious honor for researchers in HCI.  In 2009, he received the ACM Eugene Lawler Humanitarian Award for his work in autism and technology. As of 2020, he graduated 30 Ph.D. students, 20 of whom have gone on to successful careers at top universities around the world.

Dr. Abowd received the degree of B.S. in Honors Mathematics in 1986 from the University of Notre Dame. He then attended the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom on a Rhodes Scholarship, earning the degrees of M.Sc. (1987) and D.Phil. (1991) in Computation from the Programming Research Group in the Computing Laboratory. From 1989-1992 he was a Research Associate/Postdoc with the Human-Computer Interaction Group in the Department of Computer Science at the University of York in England. From 1992-1994, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Software Engineering Institute and the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University.

Education

  • D.Phil, Computation, University of Oxford, United Kingdom 1991
  • MSc, Computation, University of Oxford, United Kingdom 1987
  • BS, Mathematics, University of Notre Dame 1986

Honors & Awards

  • 2009 ACM Eugene Lawler Humanitarian Award
  • 2008 ACM Fellow
  • 2008 ACM SIGCHI Academy, Elected
  • 2007 ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award
  • 2002 Selected to attend National Academy of Engineering Symposium on Frontiers in Engineering, Irvine, CA.
  • 1997 NSF CAREER award recipient

Professional Affiliations

  • IEEE Computer Society
  • ACM SIGSOFT
  • ACM SIGCHI
  • Phi Beta Kappa

Research Overview

Human-Computer Interaction, Ubiquitous Computing, Software Engineering

Dr. Abowd’s research interests lie in the intersection between Software Engineering and Human-Computer Interaction. Specifically, he is interested in ubiquitous computing (ubicomp) and the research issues involved in building and evaluating ubicomp applications that impact our everyday lives when they are seamlessly integrated into our living spaces.

His research involves the application-driven aspects of mobile and ubiquitous computing. His approach is fundamentally human-centered, but with an emphasis on how technologies can be developed to address opportunities or challenges. The challenges for designing, implementing and evolving hardware and software for everyday human use that runs reliably, continuously and appropriately on the wide variety of worn, held and embedded platforms are numerous and complex. From the human-centered perspective, significant research themes emerge when new computing technology is put into real-life situations. To date, Dr. Abowd has led a group of that has examined such “living laboratories” in application domains of education, personal information management, life in the home, and health management.

The research themes to have emerged from such work are: automated capture and access to live experiences; context-aware applications; and natural interfaces between the physical and electronic worlds. A significant research theme that has resulted from his personal motivation has been the development of technologies to support challenges associated with the understanding and management of autism.

Selected Publications

Faculty

Nov 05, 2021

$36M DHS Contract for SENTRY Surveillance System

Northeastern University was selected for a $36M federal contract with the Department of Homeland Security to build a “Virtual Sentry” system to protect schools, churches, and stadiums.

student works on wireless rack in data center

Faculty

Apr 16, 2021

Silevitch to Direct New AI Jumpstart Program

ECE Professor Michael Silevitch will lead a new Massachusetts program, AI Jumpstart, to connect small business owners in the state with academic faculty experts to learn how machine learning can grow their companies. Northeastern received a $2.2 million state grant that will be used primarily for high-speed computer equipment and also to provide for faculty consultants, both of which will be available to selected companies to get the pilot effort up and running. Northeastern kicked in an additional $2 million, raising the program’s total value to more than $4 million.

Gregory Abowd

Faculty

Apr 07, 2021

Welcoming Our New Leader

Gregory Abowd is the new dean of the College of Engineering. In this Q&A, he shares his background and research, the importance of an interdisciplinary approach, as well as plans for leading the College into the future.

Gregory Abowd

Faculty

Mar 02, 2021

Gregory D. Abowd Joins as Dean of the College of Engineering

Gregory D. Abowd joined Northeastern University as Dean of the College of Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in March 2021.

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