Godmar Back, an assistant professor of computer science at Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, has won a $419,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award to create advanced execution environments for next-generation cloud applications.

Computers users during the next few years likely will shift from traditional desktop/server applications to a model dominated by Web-based application delivery, utility computing, software as a service, data mash-ups, and client-side extensions for Web customization. Back’s research project will create advanced Web browser and server execution environments that address the needs of these applications, which include multiple, interconnected components from varying sources.

“This paradigm shift to next-generation cloud applications profoundly changes the way in which users use the World Wide Web and provides tremendous potential for accelerating scientific discovery,” Back said. “A crucial component in this shift is the Web browser and the server infrastructure delivering those complex applications.”

An educational component will emphasize real-world contexts for student assignments in the computer science department. This effort is intended to boost recruitment and retention of women into the department, who research has shown see computer science more so than men as an enabling tool for advances in other fields.

The CAREER grant is the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award, given to creative junior faculty likely considered to become academic leaders of the future.

Back received his undergraduate degree in computer science from Berlin’s Humboldt University in 1992 and earned his doctoral degree, also in computer science, from the University of Utah in 2002. He joined Virginia Tech in 2004 after working as a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University. He also won the American Library Association’s 2007 Library and Information Technology Association/Brett Butler Entrepreneurship Award and the Association for Computing Machinery’s 2003 Special Interest Group on Programming Languages (ACM SIGPLAN) Doctoral Dissertation Award.

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