Two EECS professors awarded 2022 Faculty Research Innovation Fellowships (FRIFs)

Left to right: Virginia Vassilevska Williams (photo credit: Jared Charney), Vinod Vaikuntanathan (photo credit: Lillie Paquette).

The Department of EECS has awarded two Thornton Family Faculty Research Innovation Fellowships (FRIFs) to Professor Vinod Vaikuntanathan and Associate Professor Virginia Vassilevska Williams (who will become a full Professor effective July 1, 2022).

Thornton Family Faculty Research Innovation Fellowships are supported by the generosity of Richard Thornton, SM ’54, ScD ’57 (an EECS faculty member for more than 40 years), and were established to recognize midcareer faculty members for outstanding research contributions and international leadership in their fields.

The FRIFs provide tenured faculty with resources to pursue new research and development paths, and to make potentially important discoveries through early-stage research.

Vinod Vaikuntanathan is a professor of computer science at MIT and the chief cryptographer at Duality Technologies. The co-inventor of most modern fully homomorphic encryption systems and many other lattice-based (and post-quantum secure) cryptographic primitives, Vaikuntanathan’s work has been recognized with a George M. Sprowls PhD thesis award, an IBM Josef Raviv Fellowship, a Sloan Faculty Fellowship, a Microsoft Faculty Fellowship, an NSF CAREER Award, a DARPA Young Faculty Award, a Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Award, and an IEEE FOCS Test of Time Award. Vaikuntanathan earned his SM and PhD degrees from MIT, and a BTech degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

Virginia Vassilevska Williams is a professor of computer science at MIT EECS. Williams’ research focuses on algorithm design and analysis of fundamental problems involving graphs, matrices and more, seeking to determine the precise (asymptotic) time complexity of these problems. She has designed the fastest algorithm for matrix multiplication and is widely regarded as the leading expert on Fine-Grained Complexity. Among her many awards, she has received an NSF CAREER award; a Sloan Research Fellowship; a Google Faculty Research Award, and a Hoover Fellowship at Stanford. Williams earned her MS and PhD degrees at CMU, and her BS degree at Caltech.

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