Terry Plank and Sebastian Thrun

In an (extremely) early decision, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has decided on their speakers for their convocation this upcoming May.  Sebastian Thrun–Google VP and head of the Google X lab–will be speaking at the Ph.D. ceremony and Terry Plank, Ph.D’93–geochemist at Lamont-Doherty and 2012 recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant”–will be speaking at the Master’s ceremony.

Full announcement after the jump.

Sebastian Thrun and Terry Plank, Ph.D. ’93, to Speak at GSAS Convocation Ceremonies

December 11, 2012

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Columbia University is pleased to announce that Sebastian Thrun and Terry Plank will speak at the 2013 GSAS Ph.D. and Master’s Convocation ceremonies, respectively.

One of the world’s leading figures in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics, Sebastian Thrun has had a wide-ranging career with contributions in both academia and the larger world. As a Google VP and Fellow, he is the head of the Google X lab, where his team helped to develop Google’s self-driving car and Google Glasses. He is a research professor at Stanford University and the former director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His newest initiative is the online educational platform Udacity, which he co-founded in 2011 and where he now serves as CEO.

Professor Thrun has published over 370 scientific papers and 11 books, and is a member of the German Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. He has received numerous honors and awards, including the inaugural Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Feigenbaum Prize and the 2011 Max Planck Research Award.

Professor Terry Plank, Ph.D. ’93, is a geochemist in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, specializing in the interplay between magma and the plate tectonic cycle through the process of subduction, in which two tectonic plates collide, and its corresponding effect on volcanic activity. In October she was named a 2012 MacArthur Fellow by the MacArthur Foundation, which recognized her “painstaking fieldwork, careful analysis, and profound insight.” As a recipient of the MacArthur “genius grant,” she will receive $100,000 per year for five years.

Her research has been published in journals that include Nature GeoscienceGeology, and the Journal of Petrology. She has been a fellow at the Geochemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the Geological Society of America and served as Distinguished Lecturer for the Mineralogical Society of America. In addition to her graduate courses and research, Professor Plank lectures in Frontiers of Science, part of the undergraduate Core Curriculum.

Candid camera via Wikimedia Commons