Congratulations to BEACON's Distinguished Professors Erik Goodman and Robert Pennock

Dr. Erik Goodman, BEACON’s Director and PI, and Dr. Robert T. Pennock, also a BEACON PI, both received Distinguished Faculty Awards at Michigan State University on February 8, 2011.

From the MSU press release:

Erik David Goodman is internationally known as one of the pioneers in the field of genetic algorithms and evolutionary computation. He provided the first real application of genetic algorithms and has been actively involved in research and education in the areas of computer simulation of biological systems, computer graphics, computer-aided design and manufacturing. Through the courses he has developed, he has helped make MSU a world leader in systems biology.

His ability to apply advanced computational algorithms to real-world applications has been a distinct feature of his career. He has worked on more than 25 applications in such different areas as protein folding, medical prediction, circuit layout, scheduling, laminate composites, robotics, shape optimization, control and automotive design. He has received several grants from the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation and General Motors, among others.

Goodman played a significant role in bringing the NSF Science and Technology Center Bio/computational Evolution in Action CONsortium, known as BEACON, to MSU and in establishing the International Society for Genetic and Evolutionary Computation. Goodman’s work is truly interdisciplinary, and he has successfully collaborated with colleagues across engineering disciplines as well as disciplines outside engineering, from zoology and microbiology to telecommunications.

Robert T. Pennock’s interdisciplinary scholarship richly informs his teaching and engagement. One major strand of his work, on the philosophy of evolutionary biology, is a critical assessment of the new creationism, or intelligent design, theory. His book Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism has been lauded by peers as the best book on creationism in all its guises.

A second strand, underpinning the NSF Science and Technology Center Bio/computational Evolution in Action CONsortium, known as BEACON, is Pennock’s theoretical and empirical research with biologists and computer scientists on artificial life and evolving digital organisms. A third strand, his research on the evolution of complexity, intelligence and altruism, involves central philosophical questions about ontology, epistemology and ethics. In his 11 years at MSU, Pennock’s scholarship has been supported by nearly $26 million in external funding from the NSF, the Cambridge Templeton Consortium, and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.

Pennock’s contributions to education are broad, ranging from educational software to inquiry-based undergraduate seminars to workshops for in-service teachers. Pennock has given expert testimony to the legislatures and boards of education in Texas and Michigan on the importance of retaining the teaching of evolution in public school science curricula. He also was a key witness for the plaintiffs in the highly publicized Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case on the constitutionality of requiring that intelligent design be taught in public science classrooms.

Read more about Goodman and Pennock and the Distinguished Professor Awards here. Congratulations to our distinguished leadership!

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