Distinguished University Professor Ben Shneiderman Set to Retire

Mon May 01, 2017

A University of Maryland expert in information visualization and human-computer interaction is retiring this year after a stellar career at Maryland spanning more than four decades.

Ben Shneiderman, a Distinguished University Professor of computer science with an appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), will officially retire on June 30, capping 41 years at Maryland (1976–2017) as an influential researcher, educator and innovator.

“Ben Shneiderman's impact on research and innovation in the field of human-computer interaction is nothing short of monumental,” says Mihai Pop, professor of computer science and interim director of UMIACS. “His early work on the hyperlink that transports you to web pages online, to the development of small, touchscreen technology widely used in today's tablets and smartphones, to his concept of treemaps that allow people to easily view large sets of data—these are all ideas and discoveries that impact our society every day."
Pop adds that Shneiderman's influence as an educator and textbook author is just as important, transferring knowledge to both established experts in the field as well as the next generation of human-computer interaction and information visualization specialists.

Shneiderman came to the University of Maryland in 1976, and several years later became founding director of the university’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab. His early work in treemaps—a method of visually displaying complex sets of data using rectangular shapes—led to hundreds of papers that refined and applied his basic idea.

Much of Shneiderman’s research has focused on finding the most efficient and user-friendly strategies for humans to use computers, particularly in making them more visually and graphically appealing.
Shneiderman credits much of his productivity and impact to his students, and a more than 25-year collaboration with UMIACS Senior Research Scientist Catherine Plaisant.
His most recent work with Plaisant and others continues to advance discoveries in electronic health records, network visualization and science policy.
A member of the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Inventors, and fellow of the IEEE, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Shneiderman has received numerous awards while at Maryland, including the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award, IEEE Career Visualization Award, National Federation of Advanced Information Services Miles Conrad Lecture Award, and ACM SIGCAS's Making a Difference Award.

Go here to see a video overview of Shneiderman's pioneering research and scholarship in human-computer interaction and information visualization.