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Dr. Diane L. Souvaine, Vice Chair, National Science Board (NSB)

Dr. Diane L. Souvaine, Vice Chair, NSB


Dr. Diane L. Souvaine currently serves as vice provost for research at Tufts University, where she is also professor of computer science and mathematics. She joined the faculty of Tufts in 1998 and was chair of the Department of Computer Science from 2002 to 2009. Funded by an Exxon Foundation fellowship, Souvaine received her Ph.D. in computer science from Princeton University (1986) from which she also received her M.S.E. (1984) in electrical engineering and computer science and M.A. (1985) in computer science. She earned an M.A.L.S. in mathematical sciences from Dartmouth College in 1980 and graduated with distinction from Harvard University in 1975, earning an A.B.c.l. in English and American language and literature, with a second concentration in mathematics.

Souvaine recognized her passion for teaching early in her career. She taught mathematics and English at St. Paul's School (Concord, N.H.) from 1975 to 1977 and then mathematics at Phillips Academy (Andover, Mass.) from 1977 to 1982. Upon receipt of her doctorate in 1986, she joined the faculty in the Department of Computer Science at Rutgers Uniuversity, the State University of New Jersey, where she was promoted to associate professor in 1992. A founding member of the National Science Foundation's Science and Technology Center on Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science that originally spanned Princeton, Rutgers, Bell Labs and Bellcore, she served alternately as acting associate director and then acting director between January 1992 and June 1994. During 1994-95, she visited the Institute for Advanced Study as a member of the School of Mathematics.

In September 1998, initially on leave from Rutgers, she joined the faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering at Tufts, where she hosted the 2001 ACM Symposium on Computational Geometry as general conference chair. Promoted to professor in 1999, Souvaine became chair of the newly formed Department of Computer Science at Tufts in fall 2002. In 2005-2006, Souvaine spent her sabbatical as a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and as a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. In 2008, Souvaine received the Lillian and Joseph Leibner Award for outstanding teaching and advising, and was elected fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery in 2011. Le Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique funded her spring 2012 sabbatical as visiting research scientist at the Université libre de Bruxelles.

Souvaine's research area is computational geometry, a subdiscipline of theoretical computer science that is concerned with the design and analysis of algorithms and data structures for the solution of geometric problems. Her contributions run the spectrum from pure theory to possible practice to immediate practice. Application areas for her work include VSLI chip design, robotics, computer graphics, geometric optimization, computational statistics, molecular-modelling and the self-assembly of nanostructures. Souvaine also conducts activities to enhance precollege mathematics education and to encourage the advancement of women and persons of other underrepresented groups in mathematics, science and engineering.

Souvaine was appointed to the National Science Board in 2008 and in 2014 and was elected vice chair on May 6, 2016.

Credit: NSF/Sandy Schaeffer Photography

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