The Nominating Committee for the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (NAACL) has chosen the following candidates for the open positions on the NAACL board with two year terms beginning January 2013. Additional nominations can be made until November 20th, 2012.
Joel Tetreault just started a new position at Nuance Communications as a Senior Principal Manager of Core NL in their Silicon Valley Research Lab. Previously he was a Senior Managing Research Scientist at Educational Testing Service. His research interests include discourse processing, grammatical error detection, automated essay scoring, anaphora, and dialogue systems. He received his PhD at the University of Rochester and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pittsburgh before joining ETS. He has co-organized the Building Educational Applications workshop since 2008, served as an Area Chair for NAACL 2010, Session Chairs for NAACL 2010 and 2011, and Exhibits Chair for NAACL 2012.
The NAACL treasurer monitors and reports on the finances of the organization, and provides feedback to the NAACL board on which practices have been successful or not. The person appointed to this position should have experience in managing budgets and be highly organized. One of my main duties as a managing research scientist at Educational Testing Service the last three years was managing the budgets for our NLP Initiative as well as individual research projects. Additionally, I believe my organizational background with co-leading the Building Educational Applications workshop for the last 6 years, and serving as Area, Exhibits and One Minute Madness Chair the last few years at NAACL, as well as maintaining the primary conference calendar for our NLP/CL community at large since 2004 (http://www.cs.rochester.edu/~tetreaul/conferences.html), make me uniquely qualified for this position.
In addition to the above duties, the Treasurer is an active member of the Board. Over the last decade, the field of Computational Linguistics has grown considerably: there are more universities and companies with CL groups and researchers, and researchers from all corners of the world attending and submitting to conferences. With the number of major conferences staying roughly the same year after year, the competitiveness has increased thus putting more pressure on reviewers to provide high quality reviews in a timely fashion. In my years reviewing and also serving as a chair for different conferences and workshops, many of the same people are repeatedly called upon to provide upwards of 6 and sometimes 10 reviews for a single conference, which is problematic when they are called upon to review for other conferences in the same time frame. In order to maintain the high quality of NAACL and associated workshops, I will 1) work to increase the number of capable reviewers such that all reviewers have a manageable load at any time, and 2) work to defining standards for reviewing such that papers in different tracks are reviewed in the same manner.
Michael White is an Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics at The Ohio State University. Since obtaining his Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania, he has worked for many years in the fields of natural language generation and dialogue systems, first at CoGenTex, Inc., then across the pond at the University of Edinburgh, and most recently at Ohio State. He has served as local sponsorship chair for ACL 2008 and publications co-chair for ACL 2012, served on the SIGGEN board and Computational Linguistics editorial board, and led OSU’s NACLO hosting activities. Though capable of no special wizardry with spreadsheets, he did manage to organize an NSF workshop on shared tasks in NLG and the INLG 2008 conference without running over budget.
The last time NAACL elected a new treasurer, the candidate admitted that he was running in large part because a friend twisted his arm. In the same spirit of transparency, I’ll be honest and say I’m running mostly because I was asked nicely to do so. If elected, I’ll continue Chris Manning’s efforts to get NAACL to do more to support the field while keeping member fees low. (This challenging task may or may not involve cutting fees for our richest members without running deficits.) I can see from the board member candidacy statements that there are many initiatives worth supporting; from my own perspective, I am particularly keen to support development and outreach efforts for students, including continued support for the NACLO competition, as well as efforts to encourage collaborations with linguists and cognitive scientists, who are becoming increasingly aware of the relevance of computational methods developed in the CL community to the scientific study of language and cognition.
Katrin Erk is an Associate Professor in the Linguistics Department at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her Ph.D. from the Computer Science department at Saarland University in 2002. Her research area is lexical semantics, in particular distributional models and the characterization of word meaning in context. She has previously worked on corpus annotation with semantic information (using FrameNet) and semantic role labeling. She is currently on the editorial board of Computational Linguistics, and is secretary of SIGSEM as well as a member of the executive board of SIGLEX.
To me, one of the central characteristics of computational linguistics is its interdisciplinarity. In its (actually quite short) history, computational linguistics has drawn on linguistics, psychology/cognition, artificial intelligence, formal logic, and machine learning, to name just a few of the related disciplines. I think we need to do our best to preserve this interdisciplinarity. It is a source of new ideas and new research directions, and it helps us get a better understanding of phenomena and a notion of what the bigger picture is. And frankly, it is fun. Concretely, one area I would focus on, if elected to the board, is reviewing: We should (once more) think about how our reviewing process can best identify high-quality papers that are interdisciplinary and off the beaten track. Another area where we can foster our interdisciplinarity is the conferences: prodding people to submit tutorials and workshops that bridge disciplines, and continuing to invite plenary speakers from adjacent disciplines.
Julia Hirschberg is Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science at Columbia University. She does research in prosody, spoken dialogue systems, and emotional and deceptive speech. She received her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1985. She worked at Bell Laboratories and AT&T Laboratories — Research from 1985-2003 as a Member of Technical Staff and as a Department Head, creating the Human-Computer Interface Research Department at Bell Labs and moving with it to AT&T Labs. She served as editor-in-chief of Computational Linguistics from 1993-2003 and as an editor-in-chief of Speech Communication from 2003-2006. She is on the Editorial Board of Speech Communication and of the Journal of Pragmatics. She was on the Executive Board of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) from 1993-2003, have been on the Permanent Council of International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP) since 1996, and served on the board of the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA) from 1999-2007 (as President 2005-2007). She is currently the chair of the ISCA Distinguished Lecturers selection committee, is on the IEEE SLTC, and serves on the board of the CRA-W. She has been active in working for diversity at AT&T and at Columbia. She has been a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence since 1994, an ISCA Fellow since 2008, and became an ACL Fellow in the founding group in 2012. She received a Columbia Engineering School Alumni Association (CESAA) Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award in 2009, received an honorary doctorate (hedersdoktor) from KTH in 2007, is the 2011 recipient of the IEEE James L. Flanagan Speech and Audio Processing Award and, also received the ISCA Medal for Scientific Achievement in the same year.
My goal in joining the NAACL board would be twofold: a) to increase participation of researchers in speech and audio processing and in image and video in NAACL conferences and activities; and b) to increase the participation of women and minorities in computational linguistics. Since my PhD research at UPenn I have worked to broaden participation in NLP in terms of genre and ethnicity/gender. My own work has attempted to combine NLP with speech processing. I have attempted to increase participation of women and minorities in NLP since my PhD, but supporting diversity at Bell Labs, AT&T Labs, Columbia, and the broader community. I have also tried to broaden the scope of computational linguistics research to include interdisciplinariy work in the humanities and social sciences, as well as more practical engineering endeavors.
Julia Hockenmaier is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include using expressive grammar formalisms for statistical parsing and grammar induction, applying parsing algorithms to model protein folding, and, more recently, developing models of automatically describing images in natural language. She received her PhD from the University of Edinburgh under the supervision of Mark Steedman, and did a postdoc with Aravind Joshi at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a current member of the Computational Linguistics editorial board, was on the Senior Program Committee for NAACL-HLT 2007, and is a regular member of the program committee for the various ACL conferences. She has participated in ACL/EACL/NAACL student research workshops as author, student organizer and faculty adviser, and was a member of the first EACL student board.
As a member of the NAACL Executive Board, I would like to work towards: (1) maintaining the status of the main conference as an important place to present research, exchange ideas, and catch up with colleagues. I believe physical meetings are essential for the vitality of our community, even if their status may change in the age of electronic journals. (2) turning the Student Research Workshop from a place to present work that isn’t quite ready for the main conference into a venue that promotes excellence in graduate research, and foster a sense of community among the next generation of CL/NLP researchers. Overall, the traditional SRW is rather ineffective, because it only reaches a very small fraction of the grad student population. I believe we should explore other formats, such as a doctoral consortium with a few oral presentations from more senior students, a larger poster session for more junior students, and perhaps panel sessions with senior researchers on topics of interest. (3) making sure NAACL has a voice in public discussions that concern, and may shape, the future of computer science research and education in North America. I believe that (NA)ACL should consider joining the Computing Research Association (CRA), which would allow us to participate in such discussions, along with other professional societies such as AAAI, ACM, or SIAM.
Diana Inkpen is an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa, in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She obtained her doctorate in 2003 from the University of Toronto, Department of Computer Science. She has a Masters in Computer Science and Engineering from the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Her research interests include lexical semantics, information retrieval, information extraction, text classification, and natural language generation. She organized the 2010 NAACL workshop on Computational Approaches to Analysis and Generation of Emotion in Text, and two EACL workshops in 2006 and 2012. She was publicity co-chair for the HLT-NAACL 2009 conference. She was program co-chair for several conferences, including the Canadian Conference for Artificial Intelligence AI 2012.
If elected to the NAACL board, I will support and enhance the current ACL initiatives, by finding ways to strengthen the involvement of the researchers and students from US, Canada, Central America, and South America. I think that the involvement of US researchers is strong at the moment, while more encouragement is needed for Canada and more support is needed for the Central and South America. Also, stronger collaboration between research centres, universities, and companies from these regions is needed, especially now when the industry is open to computational linguistics applications. Another particular issue that I would like to address is the re-organization of the ACL Wiki repository of resources. At the moment it does not contain many resources and it does not separate them by categories. I propose a separation into corpora / annotated datasets / tools, with cross-links to the index of language-specific resources. I also propose to include the datasets and evaluations tools resulted from the many shared tasks from our field, in order to make the ACL repository a real central access point.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in 1990 from the Warsaw University, Greg Kondrak worked as a software engineer for several years, eventually obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 2002. He is currently an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. His research is focused on natural language processing at the sub-word level, including grapheme-to-phoneme conversion, transliteration, and phonetic similarity. He has served as a co-chair of SIGMORPHON workshops in 2006 and 2007, a member of the executive committee of SIGMORPHON since 2008, an area chair for ACL-IJCNLP 2009 and ACL-HLT 2011, and a faculty advisor for the student research workshop at ACL 2012.
I have attended nearly all NAACL meetings since the beginning in 2000, so I am familiar with the organization and the conference matters. In order to maintain the high quality of NAACL, it needs to adapt and evolve with the times. With respect to financial considerations, I am against introducing separate conference fees for each paper presentation, which is becoming standard at some NLP conferences. Instead, we should implement other ways of increasing the funding. NAACL is a competitive conference, which is one of the reasons why it is always worthwhile to attend it. On the other hand, the tradition of allowing simultaneous submissions to other conferences facilitates rapid dissemination of research results. An issue that requires careful attention are overlapping deadlines of the ACL and NAACL conferences, as evidenced by the lower number of submissions in 2012. If elected, I would investigate streamlining the reviewing process by cross-referencing the records from other conferences. I would also work towards holding one of the NAACL meetings in Latin America.
Ani Nenkova is an assistant professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania. Her main areas of research are automatic summarization, discourse and text quality. She obtained her PhD in computer science from Columbia University in 2006 and spent a year and a half as a postdoc at Stanford before joining Penn in 2007.
My goal as a NAACL board member will be to strengthen the sense of community, which I view as a necessity given its continual growth. In particular, I will focus on support for young members and on seeking ways to improve reviewing practices. In the past, transforming the student session into a doctoral consortium (DC) has proven to be successful for the NAACL environment. I would like to follow up on these changes and establish the DC as a more general place for career mentoring for young researchers, including more structured panels on job search, career planning, and responsibilities as members of a larger research community. Reviewing is one of these responsibilities, and it is, needless to say, often a controversial topic. Most people have their horror stories about bad reviewers or about their frustrating experience as a reviewer. Easy fixes are not likely to exist to address all problems—-best papers have previously been rejected, not so good papers have been accepted by busy distracted reviewers, the same paper has been submitted five times without a single edit between submissions. Part of the existing discrepancies are due to the lack of a forum where we can discuss the common standards and best practices we would like to adopt and apply as a community. I will work to organize such informal discussion both online and during the NAACL conference.
Vincent Ng is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and a member of the Human Language Technology Research Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas. He obtained his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2004. He is particularly interested in problems where significant progress could be made by exploiting world knowledge. He has been a regular attendee of NAACL since its first edition in 2000.
If elected, I will focus my efforts on two issues. First, I would like to help feature our student researchers and their work by developing a system through which they can easily create their own profiles. This system can be modeled after the ACL Member Portal, but I want it to have better search facilities and provide more flexibility in profile creation. I believe that this system could serve a few purposes: (1) it can help us better keep track of the young researchers of our field, as our community has grown considerably in the past decade; and (2) it may allow recruiters to take a more active role in the recruiting process, by assisting them in more easily identifying and contacting students who are qualified for their full-time/internship positions. I would especially like to advertise this system to related communities, such as bioinformatics and machine learning, where researchers often have projects needing people with linguistic expertise and may be interested working with or hiring the graduates in our community. Second, I would like to work on some of the issues regarding our annual conference. One such issue concerns the reviewing process: submissions, especially those for which reviewers do not have a unanimous recommendation, are being handled in an inconsistent manner across different areas. It may be helpful to develop specific guidelines for area chairs in making decisions. Jian Su (the Conference Officer of the ACL Exec Board) and I had some preliminary discussion on this issue when area-chairing for a recent ACL conference, and I hope to work with her to make recommendations to the NAACL Exec Committee. Another issue concerns mentoring. NAACL began as a conference primarily for North American NLP researchers. Since there has been increasing participation from Europe, Asia, and Latin America, I would like to examine the possibility of having a mentoring service program for NAACL and defining its scope in a way that can make it useful to researchers.
Chris Quirk is a Senior Researcher in the Natural Language Processing group at Microsoft Research. His primary focus is statistical syntax-based machine translation and related technologies such as parsing and machine learning. He completed his BS in Computer Science and Mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University in 2000 prior to joining Microsoft. He has acted as an area chair at ACL (2010) and EMNLP (2009, 2012).
NAACL is a leading organization in our field, yet there are opportunities for further growth. Our conference primarily exists to educate those new to our field, disseminate new ideas into the community, and accelerate the rate of innovation by allowing researchers to communicate. I believe we can make advances in each of these areas. Members of our community already have free and easy access to the papers at our conference. However, that represents only a fraction of the overall conference experience. We can expand the audience and impact of our conferences by capturing more of this content. For instance, we could record audio, video, and/or slides from tutorials, lectures, and invited talks, include posters in the anthology, and encourage online interaction about submissions (such as voting for top papers). Such additional open access resources and commentary would foster education and encourage the free flow of ideas. Our conferences should also explore new modes of interaction in addition to traditional oral presentations and poster sessions. This past year’s NLP Idol was a novel venue for revisiting important papers of the past, opening a broad discussion of our field, its history, and its potential future to the current audience. NAACL should continue to explore such methods of encouraging interaction and discussion to keep our future exciting yet well informed.
William Schuler has been an associate professor of linguistics at The Ohio State University since 2010. Before that he was an associate professor of computer science at the University of Minnesota. He received his PhD in computer and information science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. His research has focused on human-like language processing based on computational models of memory, funded by a National Science Foundation CAREER award since 2005. In 2006 this project received a PECASE award from the NSF. Last year he served as publications co-chair of NAACL 2012.
I have long been interested in mathematical models of human language, not only from a software engineering perspective, as one who hopes to apply these models, but also from a theoretical linguistic and cognitive scientific perspective, as one who hopes to inform these models. I think these communities have much untapped potential for collaboration. As a NAACL board member I would act to encourage interdisciplinary work by computer scientists, linguistics, and cognitive scientists.
Luke Zettlemoyer is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. His research focuses on algorithms for learning to recover and make use of representations of the meaning of natural language text. He recently served as an area co-chair for NAACL and EMNLP, program co-chair for the Pacific Northwest Regional NLP workshop, and is the NAACL 2013 workshops co-chair.
I would be excited to work on initiatives that grow participation in NAACL and improve the reviewing process. A few examples include: (1) standardizing a late fall paper submission deadline to eliminate conflict with ACL, (2) supporting reviewing reform efforts to minimize redundant effort while adding new tools for identifying and addressing poor quality reviews before they are seen by authors, (3) supporting coordination with the TACL journal including TACL paper talks at NAACL, and finally (4) increasing NAACL’s support for the summer school, regional workshops, and the computational linguistic olympiad to grow student participation.
Additional nominations can be submitted until November 20th, 2012. To make a nomination, three or more NAACL members should send email to Anoop Sarkar, the NAACL secretary, expressing support for the nominee and giving evidence that he or she will serve if elected. (It is recommended that this evidence consist of a forwarded email from the nominee containing a candidate statement, a biographical sketch, homepage URL, and a brief affirmation of intent to serve if elected.) In addition, the nominees for Chair should meet the criteria set out in the NAACL constitution.
The voting period will begin once the final slate of candidates and voting instructions are announced (soon after November 20th), and is scheduled to close on December 15th.
Many thanks to the Nominating Committee — Hal Daume (Chair), Ted Pedersen, Suzanne Stevenson, Chris Brew, Kristina Toutanova, Owen Rambow — for doing the hard work of putting together an excellent slate of nominees.
For more information about the NAACL, NAACL officer responsibilities, and NAACL election procedures, please see the NAACL home page, www.naacl.org, and the NAACL constitution, which is available there.
(anoop at cs.sfu.ca)