Celebrating Computer Science Professor Martha Evens
It's a jaw-dropping number: Martha Evens, computer science research professor, has been the adviser or co-adviser to more than 100 Ph.D. students.
She's also a prolific and well-regarded scholar who continues to publish her research on artificial intelligences, intelligent tutoring systems, and computational lexicography. Her latest paper, "A Hybrid Arabic Text Summarization Technique Based on Text Structure and Topic Identification," appears in the International Journal of Computer Processing of Languages (2011). Other current activities include serving as program committee reviewer for natural language processing for information retrieval at the 2011 Asian Information Retrieval Societies Conference, to be held in Dubai in December.
Evens helped to start the graduate program in computer science at IIT. She served as acting chair, ran the computer science employment fair starting in 1979, and offered decades of other service to the department, as well as her field and IIT.
Author of more than 350 published articles, she has made 76 research conference presentations and has had 46 research projects funded. She was honored as an IIT Early Pioneer of Computing in April 2011, along with several others including Dr. Carma McClure, who earned the university's first Ph.D. in computer science, and will attend the department’s October 26 anniversary celebration.
Evens's involvement in computers goes back to the 1950s and the Ivy League. As Bryn Mawr College's computer science department history section tells it:
Martha graduated summa from BMC in 1955 with a major in math (and having taken many courses in Greek). She shared the European Fellowship (with Nancy Degenhardt, Greek major). Martha was president of the Classics Club and played field hockey and basketball.
Martha's first meeting with a computer was in the summer of 1957, when she received an M.A. in mathematics from Radcliffe and was hired as a "mathematician" by Oliver Selfridge at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. The computer at that moment was an IBM 709, which became a 7090 when Martha went back to Lincoln Laboratory in the summer of 1958. She did get to take a class in FORTRAN II using the first FORTRAN compiler shipped out of IBM in 1958.
Martha notes: "I also drove the two boxes of cards containing the first Lisp Interpreter from MIT to Lincoln Lab as a favor to a friend—and only later realized what a big part Lisp was to play in my life and work."
In the late 1950s, Martha worked on the first-ever spelling correction program at MIT's Lincoln Labs. [Evens earned her Ph.D. in computer science from Northwestern University in 1975.] Subsequently, she became a member of the computer science faculty at Illinois Institute of Technology and has been there ever since...
Evens has held editorial positions with such publications as American Mathematical Monthly and American Journal of Computational Linguistics, and was a member of the editorial board for the Cambridge University Press series Studies in Natural Language Processing (1982–1990). She is now on the editorial board of the Far Eastern Journal of Theoretical and Experimental Artificial Intelligence. She was president of the Association for Computational Linguistics and has held other positions with such organizations as the IEEE Computer Society Chicago Chapter, ACM Special Interest Group in Artificial Intelligence, American Federation of Information Processing Societies, and many more.
Evens has won numerous IIT awards, including the Excellence in Teaching Award and the Julia Beveridge Award for her service to IIT.
A key long-term project for her has been the CIRCISM-Tutor project to build a language-based intelligent tutoring system for first-year medical students to learn about the reflex control of blood pressure. Students solve small problems and are tutored by Socratic dialog with the computer.