Professor Wendy Hall

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Professor Wendy Hall

Wendy Hall is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, UK, and was Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science from 2002 to 2007.

After undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in mathematics at the University of Southampton, she came back to Southampton in 1984 to join the fledgling Computer Science group. Her computing research career began at this time with pioneering work in multimedia and hypermedia, both at that time emerging disciplines.

Her team invented the ground-breaking Microcosm hypermedia system, which pre-dated the Web, and for which a patent was granted. The research was commercially exploited through a start-up company, Multicosm Ltd, and the software was an ITEA'95 award winner and a BCS IT award winner in 1996. The company is now called Active Navigation Ltd and focuses on Web-based link services.

Wendy Hall was the founding Head of the Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia (IAM) Research Group in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton, which has now achieved worldwide eminence. Constantly at the forefront of strategic development in education and research, she was appointed the University’s first female professor of engineering in 1994, and in 2002, she was appointed Head of School.

Her research interests now include the development of web technologies (particularly the Semantic Web), hypermedia systems and link services, advanced knowledge technologies, digital libraries, decentralized information systems, and human computer interaction. She has published over 350 papers in areas such as hypermedia, multimedia, digital libraries, and distributed information systems.

She is founding director, along with Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Professor Nigel Shadbolt, and Daniel J. Weitzner, of the Web Science Research Initiative, which was launched in 2006 as a long-term research collaboration between the University of Southampton and MIT.

She has achieved many external and professional awards and marks of recognition. She was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2000, and became a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in the same year. She is a Fellow of the British Computer Society (FBCS) and a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (FIET). In 2002 she was made a Fellow of the City and Guilds. She holds honorary degrees from Oxford Brookes University, Glamorgan University, Cardiff University, the University of Pretoria and Loughborough University. In 2008, she was given the rare honour of being made a Guest Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

She became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in the 2009 UK New Year's Honours list, and was recently elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

She holds and has held a number of prestigious leadership roles. In July 2008, she was elected as President of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and is the first non-North American to be elected to that role. She was senior Vice President of the Royal Academy of Engineering(2005-2008), and was President of the British Computer Society (2003-2004). She is a member of IW3C2 and was executive chair of the 15th International WWW conference in Edinburgh in May 2006. In April 2007 she joined the Board of the British Library. She is also Chair of the Diversity Committee of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

In 1996 Professor Hall was awarded an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Senior Fellowship, which ran until 2002. She was a member of the EPSRC Council from 1997 to 2002, a member of the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2001 Computer Science Panel and a member of the Technology Foresight ITEC panel from 1995-1998. She is currently a member of the executive of the UK Computing Research Committee (UKCRC), and Chairs the Grand Challenges Committee, and is on the RAE 2008 Computer Science Panel.

The UK Fawcett Campaign for equality between men and women named her as an Inspiring Woman in 2005, and the UK Research Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology selected her as one of six world-class Women of Outstanding Achievement in SET in March 2006. In October 2006 she was the first non-US woman to receive the Anita Borg Award for Technical Leadership.

She is particularly prominent as a strong and vocal advocate for women’s opportunities in SET and for the need to ensure that girls are not excluded from participation in science and engineering careers. In her research and her public life she has sought to ensure that women are equal beneficiaries of technological advance, and her example of achievement and dedication has made her a distinguished role model for women.

She regularly speaks at international conferences, and is a member of a number of editorial boards of journals in her research area, including the Computer Journal, JoDI and the Royal Society’s Interface Journal. She is co-editor of the new journal, Foundations and Trends in Web Science. She also holds a number of non-executive directorships. She is currently Chair of the Advisory Board of Garlik Ltd, a new company which helps people manage their personal digital information.

She was born in London and was the first of her family (originally from the 'east end') to go to University. Married to Peter Chandler, a plasma physicist and independent consultant, she now lives on the edge of the New Forest. She met Peter while studying for her PhD in Pure Mathematics at Southampton. They both love travel and fit as many holidays as possible into their hectic schedules. She lists her main hobby as shopping!

Finally, if Harrison Ford or George Clooney are reading this page, Wendy would be delighted to hear from them!

Wendy Hall is interviewed by Stephen Ibaraki distinguished expert and currently President of the Canadian Information Processing Society, for his regular CIPS interview series

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