Matthias Zwicker to Continue Leading UMD’s Department of Computer Science

Professor Matthias Zwicker has been reappointed chair of the University of Maryland’s Department of Computer Science for a four-year term, effective July 1, 2024, following a national search. He has been chair of the department since 2020.

Matthias Zwicker headshot
Matthias Zwicker. Photo courtesy of same.

“I am grateful for the leadership Matthias has demonstrated over the past four years and support his vision for his next term,” said Amitabh Varshney, dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. “His commitment to students and impactful research has helped to further the University of Maryland's position as a Top 10 public university in computer science.”

As chair, Zwicker oversees a department that currently ranks 17th in the nation for its graduate program and 18th for its undergraduate program according to U.S. News & World Report. The department runs one of the largest computer science programs in the country, with more than 3,800 undergraduates who can pursue a specialization in cybersecurity, data science, machine learning and quantum information. More than 850 of them are women, making it one of the largest female computer science populations in the country. 

The department also has more than 50 immersive media design undergraduate majors, nearly 450 graduate students in its computer science M.S. and Ph.D. programs, and nearly 150 graduate students in its data science and applied machine learning master’s programs run by the college’s Science Academy. Together with the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), the department secures annual sponsored research funding exceeding $30 million.

Matthias Zwicker gives remarks
Matthias Zwicker gives remarks at the UMD Department of Computer Science's 50th Anniversary Celebration in October 2023. Photo courtesy of same.

“I am honored to continue leading our outstanding department with its fantastic faculty, staff and students, and I am proud of all our achievements over the last four years,” said Zwicker, who holds the Elizabeth Iribe Chair for Innovation in the Department of Computer Science and the Phillip H. and Catherine C. Horvitz Professorship in Computer Science. “With the immense challenges and opportunities before us in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, computational biology, virtual reality and many other fields, it has never been a more fascinating time to work in computer science. I am thrilled about the opportunity to expand UMD's leadership in these areas, working with all stakeholders in the department to contribute groundbreaking research and prepare the next generation of leaders in computing.”

Matthias Zwicker and Zeki Mokhtarzada
Matthias Zwicker (left) and Zeki Mokhtarzada at the UMD Department of Computer Science's 50th Anniversary Celebration in October 2023. Photo courtesy of Zwicker.

As chair, Zwicker worked with university leadership to hire 18 tenured/tenure-track faculty members and 14 professional-track instructional faculty members. He also led the department in launching new academic programs, including the data science minor in collaboration with the Department of Mathematics, the computational finance minor in collaboration with the Robert H. Smith School of Business and the immersive media design major in collaboration with the Department of Art.

Through the department’s Iribe Initiative for Inclusion and Diversity in Computing, Zwicker serves on the leadership team that launched Break Through Tech DC at UMD, a national initiative that offers programs to propel more students who identify as women and nonbinary into computing careers. While he was chair, the department opened the Mokhtarzada Hatchery, which empowers UMD student entrepreneurs through dedicated workspace, meaningful mentorship and seed funding opportunities to turn their startup ideas into viable, sustainable ventures.

As chair, Zwicker also led the planning of the department’s 50th-anniversary weekend celebration in October 2023 and coordinated the purchase and installation of a new major high-performance computing cluster in the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering in collaboration with Varshney and UMIACS Director Mihai Pop.

Amitabh Varshney, Brendan Iribe, Samuel Graham, Matthias Zwicker
(Left-right) CMNS Dean Amitabh Varshney, alum Brendan Iribe, Engineering Dean Samuel Graham and Computer Science Chair Matthias Zwicker pose at the Department of Computer Science's 50th Anniversary Celebration in October 2023. Photo courtesy of Zwicker.

Zwicker joined UMD in 2017 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 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 2003 Ph.D. in computer science from ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, and completed postdoctoral research at MIT. 

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 nine interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $250 million.