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 2015.
Time for additional nominations has passed. If you are a NAACL member this year, you will be emailed a PIN which you will need in order to submit your vote at the following election website: http://www.ling.ohio-state.edu/naacl2015
The last date to vote is December 15, 2014. The names below and on the ballot appear in a (fixed) random order.
Joel Tetreault is a Senior Research Scientist at Yahoo Labs in NYC. Previously he was Senior Principal Manager at Nuance Communications and Senior Managing Research Scientist at Educational Testing Service. His research interests include discourse processing, grammatical error detection, automated essay scoring, 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 is the current NAACL Treasurer, served as Area Chair for NAACL 2010, Session Chairs for NAACL/ACL 2010-2013, Exhibits Chair for NAACL 2012, co-organizes the Building Educational Applications workshop since 2008, and maintains the primary conference calendar for our community (since 2004).
The NAACL Treasurer monitors and reports on the finances of the organization, provides feedback to the NAACL board on which practices have been successful and how best to use our budget for the future. Over the last two years as NAACL Treasurer, my primary focus was to rebuild our bank account. A healthy bank account is important for two reasons. First, it allows us to fund important computational linguistics activities such as North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO) and NLP conferences in emerging regions such as Central and South America. Activities such as these are likely to have a long-term effect on the growth of our field. Second, it allows us to better absorb any potential losses from a future NAACL conference. I worked with the rest of the NAACL board, Priscilla Rasmussen, and the previous treasurer, Chris Manning, to implement a sound strategy to rebuild our bank account. While our state of affairs has improved, there is still much work still to be done. If elected, I want to 1) continue with a conservative plan for our spending, 2) be aggressive and creative about seeking sponsorship and 3) minimize the risk of a conference operating at a loss.
For more information on NAACL financials, please see the 2014 Treasurer’s report.
Fei Xia is an Associate Professor at the Linguistics Department at the University of Washington (UW) and an adjunct faculty at the Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education at the UW Medical School. She received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001. After graduation, she worked at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center before joining UW in 2005. Fei co-chaired one conference and eight workshops, and was on the organizing committees of five other NLP conferences. She is also an editorial board member of several journals (e.g., CL, LRE and TALIP) and an officer of two ACL Special Interest Groups (SIGANN and SIGHAN). Her current research focuses on treebank development, bio-NLP, and creating resources and NLP systems for resource-poor languages.
One issue that requires more discussion and clarification is about the service region of NAACL. According to the current NAACL Constitution, NAACL will serve “all members of the Association who reside in North America. In addition, until regional chapters are created for the Association members in the adjacent regions of Central America and South America, the Chapter will serve them as well.” As far as I know, there have never been any major ACL conferences held in Latin America, so it is unlikely that region chapters of ACL would be created for that region in the near future. Given this, I feel that it is important to clarify whether NAACL intends to serve that region for a long term. If the answer is affirmative, it might be good to change the acronym “NAACL” (as suggested by David Chiang last year) to indicate that the organization is not only for North America; the NAACL constitution has to be revised accordingly as well. In addition, as a first step to promote NLP research in that region, we should seriously consider holding an NAACL conference or sponsoring a regional conference in Latin America in the near future.
Another area that I feel passionate about is to promote more collaboration between NLP researchers and linguists. In the past two decades, with the advancement of machine learning methods and the availability of data resources such as treebanks and parallel corpora, data-driven approaches to NLP have made significant progress. The success of such data-driven approaches has cast doubt on the relevance of linguistics to NLP. Conversely, NLP techniques are rarely used to help linguistics studies. I believe that there is much room to expand the involvement of linguistics in NLP, and likewise, NLP in linguistics, and that the cross-pollination of ideas between the disciplines can greatly benefit both fields. Lori Levin, William Lewis, and I organized the ACL 2010 workshop NLP and Linguistics: Finding the Common Ground. The workshop was sponsored by NSF and drew wide attendance from both NLP and linguistics fields. I hope that NAACL will support effort in this area.
Besides general linguistics, there are many other disciplines that would benefit from NLP, such as sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, social sciences, bioinformatics, and even business schools. For instance, recently there have many studies on using NLP techniques to analyze political blogs, hospital notes, or business reports. There are many ways that NAACL can promote interdisciplinary studies; for instance, we can add a new research area on interdisciplinary studies for NAACL paper submission; we can also work with funding agencies and industry to seek their support in funding such research.
Jonathan May is a computer scientist at the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute. Previously, he was a research scientist at SDL Language Weaver and a scientist at BBN Technologies. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from USC-ISI in 2010. Jonathan was Local Arrangements co-chair of NAACL HLT 2010 in Los Angeles and has been a member of the program committee for ACL, NAACL, and EMNLP since 2008. His research areas include machine translation, formal language theory, and semantics.
One of the perennial highlights of my summer is attending NAACL-HLT to learn about the state of the art in Computational Linguistics, catch up with old friends, and replenish my pen supply. We belong to a fantastic, vibrant scientific community and as a board member I will work to preserve our high standards of excellence (particularly the pens). Two areas in which we could improve are (1) to broaden visibility to our future membership and (2) to focus our message to the world at large. For the former, I propose offering free conference registration to a handful of local high school students who have demonstrated active interest in our field. These could be identified via coordination with the annual Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO) and/or the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). For the latter, I propose active press engagement at our conferences via targeted releases to local media outlets and invitations to guided tours of poster/demo sessions. This will encourage regular, widely disseminated coverage of the latest advances in CL from a scientific perspective.
Matt Post is a Senior Research Scientist at the Human Language Technology Center of Excellence (HLTCOE) at Johns Hopkins University, where he works on machine translation. His research interests include machine translation, language modeling, and grammaticality, with syntactic approaches to these tasks serving as a common underlying theme. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. He has co-organized the Workshop on Statistical Machine Translation for the past three years, and is serving as the NAACL 2013 & 2015 publications co-chair.
My main interest as a member of the NAACL executive committee is to direct some attention to (1) increasing community efforts towards reproducibility of research and (2) improving the conference management process.
Reproducibility is the cornerstone of good science, and yet it receives far less attention than primary research contributions. This imbalance has contributed to very low reproducibility rates reported across scientific fields, and undermines scientific pursuits in a number of ways. Computer scientists are well positioned to make reproducibility easy, but doing so still requires extra work on the part of both the reproducer and the reproduce, which is often unrewarded. While our community has an established habit of sharing code and data, these efforts fall far short of what they should be. As part of keeping our house in order, NAACL should find ways to reward efforts in the area of reproducibility.
A point of distinction for our research community is the extensive body of code used to produce our annual proceedings and conference manuals. This has been built up over the years and yields useful, high-quality proceedings. While improvements are made each year to this codebase and the conference management system that surrounds it (including the recent unified login system for reviewers), there remains a lot of relearning, trial-and-error, redundant effort, and subsequent frustration on the part of each year’s conference organizers, reviewers, and submitters. Softconf has been very helpful in this process so far, but there is much more that could be done were someone to give it some time, money, and attention.
Heng Ji is Edward P. Hamilton Development Chair Associate Professor in Computer Science Department of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University in 2007. Her research interests focus on Cross-source Information Extraction and Knowledge Base Population. She received Google Research Awards in 2009 and 2014, NSF CAREER award in 2009, Sloan Junior Faculty Award and IBM Watson Faculty Award in 2012, PACLIC2012 Best Paper Runner-up, “Best of SDM2013” paper, “Best of ICDM2013” paper and “AI’s 10 to Watch” Award by IEEE Intelligent Systems in 2013. She is the leader of the U.S. ARL projects on Information Fusion and Knowledge Networks Construction. She co-organized the NIST TAC Knowledge Base Population task in 2010, 2011 and 2014, served as the vice Program Committee Chair for IEEE/WIC/ACM WI2013, the Information Extraction area chair for NAACL2012, ACL2013, EMNLP2013 and NLPCC2014, Content Analysis Track Chair of WWW2015, and the Financial Chair of IJCAI2016. Her research is funded by the U.S. NSF, ARL, DARPA, Disney, Google and IBM.
I will devote a great deal of enthusiasm and energy to make NAACL an even better community. There are several practical improvements that I would like to implement if elected to the NAACL Board.
Develop a better mentoring program for young researchers through one-to-one paper advising, free conference tutorials, and a more accessible NAACL summer school.
Reduce review work load and enhance review quality, make data/software sharing repository more organized.
More interactions with other disciplines such as vision, data mining and social cognitive science through coordinating conferences and joint tutorials/workshops.
Additional nominations can be submitted until October 31, 2014. To make a nomination, three or more NAACL members should send email to Michael White (mwhite at ling.osu.edu), 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.)
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.
Nomination committee for the 2015 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.
Michael White NAACL Secretary (mwhite at ling.osu.edu)