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 2017. Additional nominations can be made until October 31, 2016. The voting period will begin once the final slate of candidates and voting instructions are announced (soon after October 31st, 2016), and is scheduled to close on December 15th, 2016.
The names below and on the ballot appear in a (fixed) random order.
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 just finished helping 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 nuturing the field. In a field as fast-moving as ours, the organization will always have to work effectively to respond to new opportunities, set its priorities and manage its risks. In my own experience in organizing meetings and administering sponsored research, I’ve maintained a range of financial records, including projections for future spending under different assumptions, and seen first-hand the benefits of good information for making prudent decisions with confidence and getting the most out of limited resources. I’d apply my skills as Treasurer of NAACL with corresponding care and responsibility.
Like many of us, I come to computational linguistics with a deep commitment to efforts to broaden participation, engage students and break down disciplinary barriers. You can expect me to pursue that agenda as a member of the NAACL Board when my service as Treasurer permits. But my first duty to the board and the organization, in my capacity as Treasurer, will be to make sure the organization doesn’t commit to initiatives unless it can carry them off successfully within its budget.
Joel Tetreault is Director of Research at Grammarly in NYC. Previously he was a Senior Research Scientist at Yahoo Labs, 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, style, and dialogue systems. He received his PhD from 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 ‘10, ACL ‘15 and EMNLP ‘16, Session Chair for NAACL/ACL 2010-2016, Exhibits Chair for NAACL 2012, co-organized the Building Educational Applications workshop since 2008, and maintained the primary conference calendar for our community from 2004 to 2016.
The NAACL Treasurer monitors the finances of the organization and 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 four 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 the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO). 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 and Priscilla Rasmussen to implement a sound strategy to rebuild our bank account. This has been successful and we have been able to fund many programs such as NACLO, NLP in Central and South America, LSA, among others. While our state of affairs has improved, there is still much work we can do. 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 latest report:
The Treasurer also has duties as a Board Member and I have been part of organizing teams for the annual Emerging Regions Fund and NAACL-sponsored students at the Jelinek Summer School. I have also spearheaded a survey with Fei Xia on how NAACL can help grow NLP in Central and South America, and if elected, I want to use the results of the survey to build ties with the region.
Philip Resnik is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Maryland, with a joint appointment at the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies and an affiliate appointment in Computer Science. He received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Harvard in 1987, and his Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science at University of Pennsylvania in 1993, and joined the University of Maryland faculty in 1996. His industry experience prior to entering academia includes time in R&D at BBN, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, and Sun Microsystems Laboratories. Philip’s research focuses on computational modeling of language that brings together linguistic knowledge, domain expertise or knowledge resources, and data-driven methods, with a recent emphasis on applications in computational social science and other work in computational psycholinguistics, computational lexical semantics, and machine translation. Outside academia, Philip was a technical co-founder of CodeRyte (clinical natural language processing, acquired in 2012 by 3M), lead scientist for Converseon (spearheading development of their sentiment analysis platform, now marketed as ConveyAPI), and founded React Labs, which is commercializing research on scalable real-time response measurement and engagement using mobile devices.
There are several issues I’d like to tackle as a member of the NAACL board. The first is how to improve the public profile of the organization. When there’s a question or issue that involves vaccinations, journalists and policy makers want to know what the American Academy of Pediatrics has to say. When there are discussions about gender identity, the views of the American Psychological Association show up. And so on. With the explosion of visible applications of language technology and increased public attention to issues in our domain, why are our organizations and community (NAACL and *ACL more broadly) not the go-to resource whenever people outside the community are seeking a well informed and relevant viewpoint? I’d like to explore ways the organization can increase its visibility and our impact as a community.
A second issue I’ve been thinking about – wrestling with, really – is the relationship between academic computational linguistics and the world of industry, especially startups. Questions like, what can we do to better prepare students in our community for jobs that are not traditional academic research positions? What lessons from the industry and startup worlds can we learn from that might improve the way we do research? Significant mobility between academic research training and non-academic jobs is a fact of our community and I’d like to see us add some explicit programming at upcoming conferences to address questions of this kind.
Third, the ability to build bridges with other communities is a huge opportunity for our own community, and I want to help figure out how we can do that more effectively – building bridges has been a core interest of mine since early days bridging between the “statistical NLP” community and research driven by domain or linguistic knowledge. I’ve been thinking about how our community can improve the bridges we build in order to increase impact, and where it might make sense to focus those efforts. An interesting recent experience, for example, was taking a leading role initiating the Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology (CLPsych) workshop series. In those workshops we imported the notion of “discussants” from social science conferences, in order to restructure the traditional Q&A period in a way that fosters thoughtful cross-disciplinary conversation, and this might be a model worth experimenting with more broadly. (Another area I’m very invested in us connecting with more effectively is healthcare; I’ve been known to rant a bit about the barriers we face trying to have an impact there, thanks to limited access to electronic health records.)
Steven Bethard is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of Arizona. His research interests include temporal semantics, information extraction, clinical NLP, and educational applications. He received his PhD from University of Colorado in December 2007, and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University , Johns Hopkins University’s Human Language Technology Center of Excellence, KULeuven, and the University of Colorado, and worked for three years as an assistant professor in Computer and Information Science at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is co-chair of SemEval 2016 and 2017, served as an area chair for ACL in 2015 and 2016, helped organize several workshops including the ACL student research workshop in 2013, and has been reviewing for *ACL conferences since 2009.
As a member of the NAACL board, I would focus on adapting our conference formats to the growing field, improving transparency in the reviewing process, and strengthening support of graduate students and postdocs. First, as our conferences grow larger, it’s critical that we still have opportunities for the intimate person-to-person interactions that are fundamental to building a vibrant research community. I would build on NAACL’s recent efforts to adjust talk and poster timings to better manage the growing attendance. Second, we all donate valuable time to peer review of our conference papers, and it’s important that we try to make optimal use of that time investment. I would continue recent efforts to improve transparency (e.g., meta-reviews from area chairs) and work on better evaluating the utility of the author response period. Finally, our research field would not exist without a strong community of graduate students and postdocs. I would work to extend our support for such researchers, by trying to strengthen the student research workshop and developing training opportunities for postdoctoral scholars.
Ellen Riloff is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Utah. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in computer science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a B.S. in applied mathematics (computer science) from Carnegie Mellon University. Her primary research areas are information extraction, sentiment analysis, semantic class induction, and bootstrapping methods that learn from unannotated texts. She has served on the Computational Linguistics Editorial Board, Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics (TACL) Editorial Board, as Program Co-Chair for the NAACL HLT 2012 and CoNLL 2004 conferences, and as Faculty Advisor for the ACL 2007 Student Research Workshop.
It is an exciting time for the NLP community, with rapid growth and widespread interest in our technology! However, we are experiencing growing pains, most obviously in dealing with the increasing volumes of paper submissions and larger conferences. Our reviewer pools have been rapidly expanding, and I would like to see NAACL be more proactive about providing guidance to new reviewers. One direction might be for NAACL to host a free/low-cost workshop or tutorial for young researchers that provides expectations for reviewing and offers general guidance for good reviewing standards. The resulting materials could later be distributed more widely on-line. As our growth continues, I believe that NAACL will also need to rethink the reviewing process. There are no easy answers, but I would encourage NAACL to explore ideas that may scale better than the current model, such as tiered reviewing. Finally, the NAACL conferences have adapted well by having more parallel sessions, shorter presentation times, and large poster sessions. In the coming years, I would like to see NAACL encourage an even greater diversity of research topics and approaches. More emphasis could be placed on the value of highly creative and original research during reviewing, final paper selection, and at the conferences, perhaps by highlighting the most creative/original work in special sessions or adding new types of paper awards.
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 would like to focus my efforts on three issues.
Supporting undergraduate participation: Many undergraduate co-authors of accepted NAACL papers do not have the opportunity to attend NAACL unless they are the first authors or their senior co-authors cannot attend the conference. To support undergraduate participation at NAACL, I plan to establish an externally funded program that offers travel awards to deserving undergraduate students who cannot attend NAACL otherwise due to financial constraints. I believe that exposure of undergraduate students to the state-of-the-art research presented at NAACL can make them seriously consider a career in NLP research. In addition, I plan to organize the student luncheon, an effort that has discontinued in recent NAACLs, inviting student and non-student speakers to share their research experiences with the undergraduate and graduate students participating at the luncheon.
Initiating a New Faculty Symposium: While we have a well-established student research workshop at NAACL where students present their work and obtain feedback from senior colleagues, I believe that we should consider establishing a similar effort targeting our new faculty colleagues, as graduate students are rarely taught how to be successful faculty members. I plan to look into the possibility of initiating a New Faculty Symposium, which aims to provide a supporting environment for our new faculty colleagues to not only showcase their work and/or their research plans, but also get advice from senior colleagues on how to address the unexpected challenges that they encounter as they transition into this new role.
Establishing a “Test of Time” award: Fifteen years have passed since ACL established the best paper award, which recognizes the best work submitted to the best conference in our community. I believe that it is time for us to think about establishing a Test of Time award, which recognizes works published in NAACL 10-15 years ago that have made a significant impact on our field. If there is sufficient interest, I will work with other NAACL board members to define the criteria for the award.
Additional nominations can be submitted until October 31, 2016. To make a nomination, three or more NAACL members should send email to the NAACL secretary, Colin Cherry at email@example.com, 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.
In light of the growth of our research community, and in order to create a larger pool of candidates for the office of Chair of the NAACL Board, the NAACL Board proposes a constitutional amendment, changing Article 5, Section 1 of the constitution to increase the number of NAACL board members from 4 to 5, as shown below. If this amendment is approved by the membership during this year’s elections, it will take effect with the following election cycle.
The administration of the Chapter shall be conducted by the Chapter Board, which shall consist of a Chair, a Secretary, a Treasurer, the most recent past Chair (provided he or she completed a term of duty), and
four (4)five (5) Board members. All these persons shall be Chapter Members, as defined in Article 4. Except for the past Chair they shall be elected by the Chapter Members for a two-year term of office. The Treasurer of the ACL shall ex-officio be a member of the Chapter Board. If vacancies occur, the Chapter Board shall appoint replacements, subject to approval by the Association Executive Committee, to serve until the next election. Except for the Treasurer, no Board member shall serve more than two (2) terms in any single elected office, and no more than three (3) terms in any elected office. The Treasurer may serve for a maximum of ten (10) years in that position, subject to the satisfaction of the Board, the Members, and the Association Executive Committee. After the first Chair, every Chair must have served on the Board for at least one year during the past five years.
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 2017 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.