Matthias Zwicker Appointed Interim Chair of UMD’s Department of Computer Science

Professor Matthias Zwicker has been appointed interim chair of the University of Maryland’s Department of Computer Science, effective July 20, 2020. He will take the reins from Ming Lin, who stepped down to participate in the Amazon Scholars program.

Matthias Zwicker. Photo courtesy of same. (Click image to download hi-res version)

“I want to thank Matthias for stepping up to serve in this crucial role for the department, especially as the university is responding to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Amitabh Varshney, dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. “I know he will provide steady and dedicated leadership in all facets of managing the department.”

As chair, Zwicker will oversee a department that currently ranks 16th in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report and is one of the largest computer science programs in the country with nearly 4,000 students. The department, along with the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), also brings in nearly $30 million in external funding each year.

“I feel extremely honored to be called to serve the department and the broader UMD community as interim department chair,” Zwicker said. “These are extraordinary times, and I am looking forward to working with everybody in the department, the college and the university to manage our challenges in a collaborative spirit. I would like to thank Ming Lin for her enormous efforts and achievements as our previous chair. She has been an inspiration for the entire department.”

In March 2017, Zwicker joined UMD as the Reginald Allan Hahne Endowed E-Nnovate Professor in Computer Science with a joint appointment in UMIACS. Before arriving in College Park, he was a professor of computer science at the University of Bern from 2008 to 2017, where he served as the head of the computer graphics group and the director of graduate and undergraduate studies at its Institute of Computer Science. Prior to that, he was an assistant professor at the University of California San Diego from 2006 to 2008.

Zwicker’s research focuses on the intersection of computer graphics and artificial intelligence, and his work is laying the foundation for next-generation platforms for virtual and augmented reality.

He serves as a co-lead faculty member for UMD’s new immersive media design undergraduate major, which will advance education, creativity and innovation that flourish at the intersection of digital art and computer science. He currently serves on the University Senate, and as a search committee chair he helped recruit several senior faculty members to join the department. He has also supported students in the Gemstone program in the Honors College as a faculty mentor.

He has served as a papers co-chair and conference chair of the IEEE/Eurographics Symposium on Point-Based Graphics, and as a papers co-chair for Eurographics. He regularly contributes to his research community as a member of program committees for various conferences including the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (ACM SIGGRAPH) and Eurographics. He has served as an associate editor for journals such as Computer Graphics Forum, The Visual Computer, and IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics.

Zwicker received an ETH Silver Medal for his Ph.D. in computer science from ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2003, and completed postdoctoral research at MIT. 

Since Lin began her role as department chair in January 2018, the department hired 14 tenured/tenure-track faculty members and two instructors. In addition to helping launch the department’s Iribe Initiative for Inclusion and Diversity in Computing, Lin enhanced outreach to companies and donors. While she was chair, the department established two Brin Family Endowed Professorships in Theoretical Computer Science and two Pier Giorgio Perotto Endowed Professorships in Computer Science, and opened the Mokhtarzada Hatchery as dedicated start-up coworking space for computer science student entrepreneurs. In 2019, Lin led the department’s move to the new Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering.


About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 8,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and six interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $250 million.