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 2018. Note that as per last year’s constitutional amendment, this year, we will add three board members to the board, bringing the total number of board members up to five.
Additional nominations can be made until October 31, 2017. The voting period will begin once the final slate of candidates and voting instructions are announced (soon after October 31st, 2017), and is scheduled to close on December 15th, 2017.
The names below and on the ballot appear in a (fixed) random order.
Julia Hockenmaier is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has been on the NAACL Executive Board since 2016, and is currently SIGNLL president. She is also an action editor for TACL, and was an area chair for NAACL 2015, EMNLP 2015, 2016 and 2017. Her research interests span many aspects of natural language understanding, from syntactic parsing and grammar induction with linguistically expressive grammars to image description and entailment recognition.
Boy, do we live in exciting times! Since NLP has joined the deep learning revolution, we’ve achieved previously unheard of accuracies on established tasks that make much of “traditional” statistical NLP look as brittle as rule-based NLP must have seemed twenty years ago, and we keep reading about apparent breakthroughs in our field in the popular press, or in daily updates from the arXiv. As NAACL chair, I would strive to make sure our organization makes the most of the opportunities that present themselves as our membership and commercial interest in our work explode, while also addressing the challenges that come with this rapid growth and maturation of the field.
In particular, I would like to make sure that our conferences remain events that make it possible for newcomers and established members to meet, interact, and, well, form a community that they want to be a part of. It goes without saying that this should include anybody from the wide range of intellectual, national, and personal backgrounds that (NA)ACL attracts, regardless of whether they are students, faculty, government or industry researchers, or whether they consider themselves computational linguists or machine learning people, or which part of the Americas (or the rest of the world) they reside in. I would also like to strengthen relations with our neighboring disciplines, so that we can share best practices, e.g. for how to maintain double-blind reviewing standards when preprints have become pervasive, or for how to handle the glut of submissions we have to handle. I would also like to strengthen the education and outreach work NAACL does through its Emerging Regions Fund and the scholarships for the Jelinek Summer Schools. Finally, as the technologies we create become increasingly commodified, and receive more and more attention in the popular press, I believe that our community has an increasing responsibility to inform the general public both of the actual capabilities of the systems we create, and of the ethical issues that may arise in their deployment. I would like (NA)ACL to promote the exchange and dissemination of ideas around these topics.
Matthew Stone is Professor of Computer Science at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; he holds a joint appointment in the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science. He has been at Rutgers since finishing his PhD in Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. His research focuses on discourse, dialogue and natural language generation; he’s particularly interested in leveraging semantics to make interactive systems easier to build and more human-like in their behavior. He was program co-chair for NAACL 2007, general co-chair for SIGDIAL 2014, and recently helped to bring NASSLLI and SEMDIAL to Rutgers in summer 2016. He has also served as program co-chair for INLG and IWCS, as an information officer for SIGSEM, and on the editorial board for Computational Linguistics.
Despite constant changes in the way computational linguistics research is carried out, evaluated, and disseminated, NAACL (and ACL) have maintained a stellar record of supporting the community and nurturing the field. The secretary is responsible for communications at the organization and so plays a particularly important part in these activities, notably in outreach efforts that can broaden participation, engage students and break down disciplinary barriers. I’m excited to help push these activities forward.
At the same time, our marquee activity is a conference that most participants fly to. We have a big carbon footprint. I’d like to discuss ways we might deepen the diverse program of collocated events we offer, so conference attendance can substitute for other travel. In tandem, as secretary, I’d explore online infrastructure and resources that could make the organization more effective at supporting our members, and promoting computational linguistics, anywhere anytime.
Colin Cherry is a Senior Research Officer at the National Research Council Canada. Previously, he was a Researcher at Microsoft Research. He received his Ph.D. in Computing Science from the University of Alberta. His primary research area is machine translation, but he has also been known to venture into parsing, morphology and information extraction. He is currently secretary for the NAACL and an action editor for the Transactions of the ACL. He has recently served as workshop co-chair for HLT-NAACL 2012, as publications co-chair for HLT-NAACL 2013, on the editorial board of Computational Linguistics from 2013 to 2015, and as machine translation area co-chair for ACL 2014 and IJCNLP 2017.
The NAACL Secretary is responsible for helping to organize meetings, elections and general communications, including the website and social media. As secretary, I’ve done what I can to keep these things running smoothly, including managing a shift of naacl.org to a new markdown language. As a board member, I was part of the organizing team for awarding NAACL-sponsored scholarships to attend the 2017 Jelinek Summer School.
I am generally happy with the NAACL web site and our election process. The secretary responsibility with the greatest room for improvement continues to be NAACL’s use of social media. The organization’s Twitter account has previously been used only to announce the executive’s direct activities. This year, I will extend the account’s role to aggressively promote the social media activities of the NAACL conference. Going beyond that with social media raises the question of what role, if any, NAACL should play in promoting and commenting on general news about natural language technologies in North America. This question is increasingly important as the impact of our technologies grows. It is not a straightforward question, but it is the sort of thing I’d like to help us figure out if given a second term.
As a board member, I would also like to continue to make our conferences family friendly. At this year’s ACL, we made big steps toward this by providing on-site child care. I’d like to also look into providing support to families that don’t necessarily want child care, by providing space or activities to allow children and spouses to get to know each other.
I have greatly enjoyed my time as NAACL Secretary, and I sincerely hope you’ll give me the chance to serve for another two years.
Marie-Catherine de Marneffe is an Assistant Professor in Linguistics at The Ohio State University. She received her PhD from Stanford University in December 2012 under the supervision of Christopher D. Manning. Her research focuses on computational pragmatics. She is one of the principal developers of the Stanford Dependencies and the Universal Dependencies representations. She helped organize the shared task on Named-Entity recognition in Twitter at the ACL 2015 and Coling 2016 workshops on Noisy User-generated Text, and co-chaired with Joakim Nivre the first workshop on Universal Dependencies in 2017. She served as an area chair for ACL 2016. She is currently a member of the NAACL board as well as of the Computational Linguistics editorial board.
In recent years, the NAACL board aimed at the improvement of the reviewing process and paper selection, a better integration between different disciplines, and the inclusion of all of the Americas. In the last two years, I have worked, together with other board members, towards these three goals (for instance, Hal Daumé III and I organized the author response survey, which led to recommendations to program chairs; I helped Joel Tetreault with the Emerging Region Fund). By continuing to serve on the board, I can materialize the efforts started. I also want to make sure that our field stays true to its interdisciplinary nature, and stays grounded in the linguistics part of “computational linguistics”. NAACL has to become a better illustration of how research in theoretical linguistics and NLP can complement each other. I will continue to work to make this happen.
Marilyn Walker is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her current research includes work on computational models of dialogue interaction and conversational agents, statistical and expressive natural language generation, analysis of social phenomena in social media dialogue, and research on the analysis and generation of narratively structured texts. Walker was a professor of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield from 2003 to 2009 where she held a Royal Society Wolfson Award. From 1996 to 2003, she was a principal member of the research staff at AT&T Bell Labs and AT&T Research, where she focused on statistical methods for dialogue management and statistical natural language generation. She earned a B.A. in Computer and Information science at UC Santa Cruz, an M.S. in Computer Science at Stanford University, and M.A. in Linguistics and Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania.
This is an exciting time for the NLP community with the rapid growth and expansion in the field. Our first NAACL conference, only 17 years ago, had eight area chairs and received 166 submissions. In 2018 we will have around 65 area chairs with a guestimate of getting possibly more than 1500 submissions. The downside of this rapid growth is maintaining the quality of the conference, along with the potential for change in the culture and feeling of our community.
This community has always been one of the most diverse sub-areas of computer science and that is something that is valuable: we have to work to maintain and nourish this diversity. I will continue to support and work on the initiatives that recently resulted in changes to the ACL constitution to enforce more gender and geographical diversity and the establishment of the Women in NLP workshop.
We need to make an explicit attempt to value our roots. We could consider establishing a Test of Time award for work published in NAACL more than ten years ago. As we grow we do not want to lose the valuable contributions from scientists in other disciplines that have always had a core interest in human language.
Finally, I hope to work towards methods and approaches by which NAACL can explicitly encourage an even greater diversity of research topics and approaches. We need to encourage reviewers to place greater weight on highly creative and original research, and area chairs to prioritize the final selection of papers that are both well-grounded in the literature and very creative. We could expand the idea of best paper awards to have special sessions that would highlight the most creative and original work, perhaps by explicitly adding new types of paper awards.
Luke Zettlemoyer is an Associate Professor in the Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, and also runs the AllenNLP group at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. His research focuses on empirical computational semantics, covering a wide range of core language understanding problems such as semantic parsing and coreference resolution. He has served the *ACL community for over 10 years, as reviewer, area chair, and action editor for various conference and journals. He has never served on a board, but would be happy to do so if elected.
NAACL is a healthy, growing community. I think that, overall, we should be careful to maintain the high quality of the conference, while making incremental adjustments to improve reviewing quality, inclusiveness, institutional memory, support for interdisciplinary research, and recognition of high quality work.
Smaranda Muresan is a Research Scientist at the Data Science Institute at Columbia University. Her research focuses on computational models for understanding language in context, such as social context or visual context, with application to computational social science and education. Before joining Columbia University, she was a faculty at the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University, where she received the Distinguished Achievements in Research Award. She received her PhD from Columbia University in 2006 under the supervision of Owen Rambow and Judith Klavans and did a Postdoc with Philip Resnik at the University of Maryland. She served as Faculty Advisor for NAACL 2015 Student Research Workshop, as a co-organizer of the 2nd Workshop on Argumentation Mining at NAACL 2015, and as area chair for EMNLP, ACL and NAACL
As a member of the NAACL Executive Board, I would like to work on addressing two main issues.
The first issue is how to ensure that a larger number of high quality papers introducing creative and non-mainstream ideas are part of the NAACL program. Admittedly, addressing this issue will be closely linked to addressing the quality of reviewing, which has been one of the issues tackled by the executive board and certainly a recurring topic of discussion at our conferences. One step in this direction would be to revisit the idea of implementing different reviewing criteria for different types of papers. In addition, I would like to work with the executive board on implementing a feedback mechanism from area chairs to reviewers with the goal of promoting fair and constructive reviews.
The second issue I would like to tackle is strengthening the participation of undergraduate and high-school students at NAACL conferences and/or workshops. At NAACL 2015 SRW, where I served as one of the faculty advisors, we introduced for the first time the undergraduate research track, which proved to be successful. I would like to continue to improve the participation of undergraduate students and to establish a tradition of having the winners of NACLO (North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad for high-school students) attend NAACL.
Aline Villavicencio is a Lecturer/Reader in Computer Science affiliated to the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) and to the University of Essex (UK). Her research interests include lexical semantics, multilinguality, and cognitively motivated NLP. She received her PhD from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 2001, and held postdoc positions at the University of Cambridge and University of Essex (UK). During 2011-2012 and 2014-2015, she was on sabbatical at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA). She is a current member of the editorial board of the Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, the Journal of Language Modelling and Linguamatica, is Area Chair for NAACL 2018 and for COLING 2018, and the Chair for the International Conference on Computational Processing of Portuguese (PROPOR 2018). She is also a regular member of the program committee for the various ACL conferences, and has co-chaired numerous *ACL workshops on Cognitive Aspects of Computational Language Acquisition and on Multiword Expressions. She has co-edited special issues and books dedicated to these topics.
If elected to the NAACL board I will work towards greater geographical diversity and inclusion of underrepresented NLP communities at NAACL events. There are many thriving and fast growing NLP groups doing amazing work on a rich diversity of native languages, that often require creative solutions for dealing with limitation of resources. A greater presence of these communities at NAACL would strengthen the links between researchers and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and ideas and foster collaborations. For that it is important to actively promote NAACL initiatives and activities that support diversity and the inclusion of these communities, following the successful example of the ACL-2017 Women and Underrepresented Minorities in NLP. I would also work towards promoting further the diversity and inclusion of areas in NLP. Much has already been achieved through interdisciplinary collaboration involving researchers from areas like cognitive sciences, data science, brain science, linguistics, psychology, physics and biology. There is a growing community that has been working towards strengthening the links between these areas, and I will work towards supporting these efforts and promoting the presence of interdisciplinary initiatives in NAACL events.
Joyce Chai is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University, where she directs the Language and Interaction Research Lab. She received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Duke University in 1998. Prior to joining MSU in 2003, she was a researcher at IBM T. J. Watson Research Center. Her research interests include natural language processing, situated dialogue agents, information extraction and retrieval, and intelligent user interfaces. Her recent work has focused on grounded language processing to facilitate situated communication with robots and other artificial agents. Throughout the years, she has served on many conference/workshop organizations in different roles (e.g., area chair, mentoring chair, workshop chair, etc.). More recently, she served as Program Co-chair for the Special Interest Group in Dialogue and Discourse (SIGDIAL) in 2011, the ACM International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI) in 2014, and the North America Chapter of ACL – Human Language Technology (NAACL-HLT) in 2015.
I have two goals in joining the NAACL executive board. First, I would like to work with the board to seek more opportunities to broaden interdisciplinary participation. We should find ways to encourage more interdisciplinary work at NAACL, for example, in the intersection of language, vision, robotics, and cognitive modeling. We should continue to reach out to relevant communities and actively solicit and invite interdisciplinary workshop/tutorial proposals for NAACL. We can also collocate our annual meeting with other major conferences in related areas and jointly create opportunities (e.g., brown bag lunches at the meeting) for interested researchers to meet and connect. Second, I would like to explore ways that NAACL can help encourage young researchers to enter academia and help them make a successful transition. Given recent growth in NLP, many of them have joined (or will be joining in the future) a department which does not have an existing NLP program. It will be beneficial for them to have access to senior faculty members in the field, e.g., to obtain advice on student supervising, grant writing, etc. NAACL can provide a platform to make such connections. For example, NAACL can host a gathering at the conference where senior and junior faculty can meet to share experiences and address issues related to NLP pedagogy and academic careers.
Additional nominations can be submitted until October 31, 2017. To make a nomination, three or more NAACL members should send email to the NAACL secretary, Colin Cherry at firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 October 31), and is scheduled to close on December 15.
Many thanks to the Nominating Committee for doing the hard work of putting together an excellent slate of nominees.
Nominating committee for the 2018 elections:
For more information about the NAACL, NAACL officer responsibilities, and NAACL election procedures, please see the NAACL home page, and the NAACL constitution, which is available there.