The Department of Computer Science welcomes eight new faculty members this fall, bringing the total number of faculty to more than 70. This new cohort will have teaching/research appointments at both the Blacksburg campus as well as the Innovation Campus in the greater Washington D.C., metro area.

Siwei Cao

Primary Research Area: 
Digital Education

Siwei joined the Department of Computer Science in Fall 2020, having previously taught in the Computer & Information Science Department at Temple University.

Her research interest is in computational thermodynamics and kinetics and computer science education. She did research on computational modelling for ternary phase diagrams at intermediate temperatures and phase transformation data analysis on Fe-based and Ni-based alloys.

Siwei received her Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at The Ohio State University; masters at Miami University; and a bachelors in physics at Beijing Jiaotong University in China.

Brendan David-John
Assistant Professor

Primary Research Area:
Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

Brendan joins the Department of Computer Science with deep research in human vision/perception with a specialization in computer graphics. He is interested in using eye tracking technology to help study human perception, and to improve virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.

He received his Ph.D. in computer & information sciences & engineering at the University of Florida and his bachelors and masters in computational mathematics/computer science at Rochester Institute of Technology. 

Sally Hamouda
Collegiate Associate Professor

Primary Research Area:  Digital Education
Additional Research Interests:  Data Analytics | NLP

Sally joined the Department of Computer Science in summer 2022, having taught most recently as an assistant professor in the faculty of engineering Cairo University. 

She comes to Virginia Tech with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry and skilled in Java, C#, PHP, Ruby on Rails, and Python.

Sally received her Ph.D. in computer science at Virginia Tech. As a research Ph.D. student, she served as an instructor and teaching assistant. She received both her bachelor and master degrees in computer engineering from Cairo University.

Heath Hillman

Primary Research Area:  Digital Education

Heath brings experience teaching mathematics and computer science at Colorado Mesa University and most recently at Elon University in North Carolina. 

He received his bachelors in mathematics at Colorado Mesa University. 

Reza Jafari
Collegiate Associate Professor
Innovation Campus

Primary Research Areas: Data Analytics | Machine Learning | NLP
Additional Research Interests: Vision | Theory and Algorithms

Reza joins the Department of Computer Science, previously serving as a professorial lecturer in data science at The George Washington University.

His research interests include system identification and control using neural networks. He is also interested in numerical methods for the approximation of higher dimensional spaces. 

Reza holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Oklahoma State University, a masters in mechatronics and applied mathematics from American University of Sharjah and Oklahoma State University; and a bachelors from University of Tehran.

Huaicheng Li
Assistant Professor 

Primary Research Area:  Systems
Additional Research Interests:  Data Analytics | HPC and Computational Science

Huaicheng brings to the Department of Computer Science a breath of research, including operating systems, storage and memory systems, and systems support for emerging hardware/applications.

He most recently served as a postdoctoral researcher for the Parallel Data Lab at Carnegie Mellon University. 

Huaicheng received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Chicago and his bachelors in computer science and technology from Wuhan University.

Tessema Mengistu
Collegiate Assistant Professor

Primary Research Area:  Systems
Additional Research Interests:  Digital Education | Machine Learning

Before joining Virginia Tech, Tessema served as an assistant professor (term) at the Department of Computer Science at George Mason University.

His research interests include edge intelligence, edge/cloud computing, big data, volunteer computing, IoT, and information retrieval.

Tessema earned his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University Carbondale while working in cloud computing and big data lab. He received his master and bachelor degrees in computer science and statistics, respectively, from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. He also received his second master of science degree from Université Côte d'Azur (Ubinet), France.

Chris Thomas
Assistant Professor

Primary Research Area:  Vision
Additional Research Interests:  Machine Learning | NLP

Chris is a computer vision researcher who is interested in machine learning systems that can understand real-world multimedia. He most recently worked as a postdoctoral student at Columbia University, after completing his Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh.