The names below and on the ballot appear in a (fixed) random order.
Jonathan May is a Research Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department of the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California, as well as a Research Lead with USC’s Information Sciences Institute, where he received a PhD in 2010. He has previously worked at BBN Technologies and at Language Weaver (now SDL Research). His interests include automata theory, machine translation, common-sense reasoning, semantic parsing, and dialogue. He is currently treasurer of NAACL. Jon previously served as workshop co-organizer and task organizer of SemEval from 2016 to 2019, handbook chair for NAACL 2018, social media co-chair for NAACL in 2016, and local arrangements co-chair for NAACL in 2010.
Thank you for considering me for an additional term as NAACL treasurer. The past two years have been fun and productive ones, as I’ve learned more about NAACL’s financial health, implemented changes to improve efficiency, given advice to mitigate risk while supporting interests critical to our community, and weathered the current crisis. I look forward to building on the past term’s learning experience and continuing to keep NAACL financially sound.
Apart from our annual conference, NAACL continues to support NACLO, to promote CL/NLP awareness at the high school level. We provide scholarship funds for the JSALT summer workshop series. And we sponsor initiatives in emerging regions of the Americas via the ERF. As a member of the ERF committee, I am proud that we have been able to maintain funding levels even in a time of uncertainty and have sponsored worthwhile projects in Brazil, Peru, Mexico, and Colombia. And we have innovated our sponsorship payment process to speed up international transactions and reduce international exchange fees.
My goal for the coming term is to expand our support of these and other worthy causes that promote the equitable expansion of research in natural language processing and computational linguistics. Thanks to our hardworking ACL treasurer David Yarowsky and ACL business manager Priscilla Rasmussen, ACL is resolving long-standing uncertainties with regard to its financial health that have necessitated caution in our spending. With these uncertainties resolved, NAACL will be able to expand its support to increase NACLO, JSALT, and ERF participation, which exposes as wide a population in the Americas as possible to our field. When travel resumes, I will suggest we use available NAACL funds to facilitate low-cost conference child support and provide conference travel grants. In this way we will work toward ensuring that lack of money does not equate to lack of access.
Yaser Al-Onaizan is a Senior Manager for Applied Science at Amazon AI. He is currently leading an R&D group working on a variety of human language technologies including building a platform for Conversational AI, Multilingual Information Extraction and Analytics, and Machine Translation. Prior to joining Amazon in 2017, he led a research group at IBM’s TJ Watson Research Center focusing on Machine Translation and Multi-lingual NLP R&D. During his 15 years at IBM, he was a Principal Investigator for several 5-year DARA-sponsored projects such as TIDES, GALE, and BOLT where he led a consortium of scientists from Academia and Industrial Research labs. Dr. Al-Onaizan received his MS and Ph.D. from the University of Southern California (Information Sciences Institute) in 1996 and 2002 respectively. He also received an MBA from Columbia University in 2011. He served as an Executive Board Member and Director of Research at AMTA (2012-2016) and an Associate Editor for ACM Transactions on Asian and Low-Resource Language Information Processing (2009-2015). He also served as an area chair for many ACL conferences (ACL, EMNLP, AACL) and has been a reviewer for over 20 years.
Thank you for considering my nomination for a NAACL Board Member. If I’m elected to the board, I would like to focus on the following initiatives:
Act as a bridge between Academia and industrial research labs. Many in industrial research labs may not have the same flexibility and freedom in releasing code, data sets, etc. and I would like to use my 18+ years of experience in industrial research labs to help bridge that gap.
While I understand that NAACL has a geographic focus on North America, I still see a need for ACL, in general, to reach a much wider audience in South America, Africa, and the Middle East by attracting submissions from those regions and help them with mentoring.
Diversity and Outreach: Diversity is paramount to the success of the organization as a whole. I believe outreach is key to increased diversity. For example, kids in some schools started learning to code (as early as elementary school in some areas). Language and computational linguistics can be fun and exciting while being educational. I think NAACL/ACL can engage schools with some educational programs around computational linguistics, NLP, AI, etc. that would diversify the pool of talent that will eventually drive the next generation of NLP researchers.
The explosion of paper submissions continue to stress test the review process. I see this trend to continue which will present tremendous challenges to the current process. I would work with colleagues on scaling up the process to meet the demands without compromising the integrity or quality of reviewing. I believe it is time to bring AI and ML to bear in this direction.
Luciana Benotti is an Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science in the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, from Argentina. Her research interests include different aspects of situated dialogue systems, including the study of misunderstandings, clarification requests and grounding. She has applied her research in computer assisted learning systems for interactive language acquisition. She has an Erasmus Mundus MSc, and a PhD in Computer Science completed at INRIA Nancy Grand Est. She received an IBM SUR award for her work on robust conversational interfaces, and a Google RISE award for her outreach efforts in developing AI-based technology for education. She has been an invited scholar at the University of Trento (2019), Stanford University (2018), Roskilde University (2014), University of Lorraine (2013), Universidad de Costa Rica (2012), and University of Southern California (2010). She regularly serves under different roles in the ACL community. She has been a volunteer during conferences, a reviewer since 2010, an area chair for dialogue and interactive systems several times, and a member of the executive board of SIGDIAL and SIGSEM.
If I am elected as a member of the board my first natural goal will be to work towards maintaining the high quality of the conference while I focus on supporting diversity and inclusion. As a latinamerican researcher I know first hand the serious problems that overlooking these issues provoke. I will aim to boost diversity and inclusion at NAACL through the following initiatives:
Care about ethics: I will propose to require the inclusion of an ethical impact statement to all papers submitted to NAACL as it is now required by other conferences in the field (e.g., Neurips). Such statements should not only consider gender and race, but also take economy, power and climate into account.
Encourage reproducibility: I will explore incentives to encourage the release of implementation code, data, and trained models required to reproduce the results of all papers submitted to NAACL. These measures would not only improve transparency, but they would help researchers with low computing budgets implement their ideas and even help reduce our carbon footprint.
Reward helpful members: I will propose the implementation of a system of “ACL karma points” for ACL members, that can be obtained by performing activities that directly contribute to the NAACL community (e.g., writing good reviews, volunteer roles at the conference, open sourcing materials, etc.). Karma points could then be exchanged for concrete benefits like free ACL membership or reduced conference registration fees.
Lower barriers: I will support ongoing, successful initiatives that already strive to promote diversity and inclusion at NAACL. In particular, I will promote the continuation of the Widening NLP Workshop (WiNLP), and the Emerging Regions Funds. Moreover, during this year the organization of virtual conferences has successfully increased participation of underrepresented communities, and this format should be seriously considered in the future.
Steven Bethard is an Associate Professor at the University of Arizona. He has previously worked at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, KU Leuven, and the University of Colorado Boulder, where he received his PhD in 2007. His research focuses on modeling the language of time and timelines, normalizing text to medical and geospatial ontologies, and information extraction models for clinical applications. He is currently publications co-chair for NAACL 2021 and Vice-President Elect of SIGLEX, and has previously served as co-chair of SemEval 2016-2018, publication chair for ACL 2020 and EMNLP 2013, area chair for ACL 2015, 2016 and 2019, and is a standing reviewer for TACL.
Our already-growing community has had to rapidly adapt to the many challenges presented by the COVID pandemic. As a board member, I would like to work on the following initiatives:
Graham Neubig is an associate professor at the Language Technologies Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. His work focuses on natural language processing, specifically multi-lingual models that work in many different languages, and natural language interfaces that allow humans to communicate with computers in their own language. Much of this work relies on machine learning, and he is also active in developing methods and algorithms for machine learning over natural language data. He publishes regularly in the top venues in natural language processing, machine learning, and speech, and his work has won awards at EMNLP 2016, EACL 2017, and NAACL 2019. He has served on the NAACL board for the 2019-2020 term.
I first ran for the NAACL board in 2018 on a platform of improving two things regarding our conferences and publishing. The first was regarding remote participation in conferences, with the goal of reducing the barrier of entry for researchers who are not able to participating in conferences personally due to financial or visa issues. The silver lining on the cloud of the COVID situation is that it forced our hand on remote conferences, and I now believe that the infrastructure is in place. If elected to a second term, I will advocate for continuing to provide a comprehensive remote participation experience even after we transition back to in-person conferences. The second issue was improvement of our reviewing processes, with the goal of improving efficiency and reviewing quality. I am continuing to advocate for this through participation in the ACL reviewing committee, where I have developed software for reviewer-paper matching (which has been used at ACL 2020 and EMNLP 2020), and also created proposals for rolling review that are under consideration for the ACL as a whole. If elected, I would like to use my position on the NAACL exec to continue advocating for improvements in the reviewing processes for NAACL conferences and the ACL as a whole.
David Traum is the Director for Natural Language Research at the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and Research Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Southern California (USC). He leads the Natural Language Dialogue Group at ICT. More information about the group can be found here: http://nld.ict.usc.edu/group/ Traum earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Rochester in 1994.Traum’s research focuses on dialogue communication between humans and artificial agents. He has engaged in theoretical, implementational and empirical approaches to the problem, studying human-human natural language and multi-modal dialogue, as well as building a number of dialogue systems to communicate with human users. Traum has authored over 250 refereed technical articles.
His research community service includes ACL 2019 Program Co-chair, SIGdial leadership from 1998-2015 (vice president, president, president emeritus, and board member), area chair for several NAACL and other *ACL conferences, ACL Demo Chair (1999), NAACL Workshops co-chair (2010), Associate editor for Dialogue and Discourse Journal, and (co-)chair of over 30 smaller conferences and workshops.
The CL/NLP field continues to change rapidly, with a rapidly increasing amount of research output, many helpful tools, and massive industry presence affecting many people every day. NAACL has been and will have to continue to adapt to these changing conditions, supporting the current research community as well as facilitating entry from new researchers and outreach to related communities and the general public.
The global pandemic has caused major changes as with many aspects of life. A big issue for NAACL will be how further the best aspects of in-person conferences (such as in-depth and informal contacts), in an environment where large in-person meetings is not possible, and conversely how to maintain and extend the benefits of virtual participation, including lower cost, smaller environmental footprint and fewer barriers to entry. This may be a good time to rethink the relative benefits of conference vs journal publications, and whether recent ACL reform proposals will most effectively and efficiently advance the field and the careers of researchers.
If elected, I would like to help NAACL navigate these and other issues, continuing the experimentation with formats and policies, keeping what works to achieve its objectives, moving on (or back where appropriate) when the objectives are not met, or other problems emerge.