The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia has named Virginia Tech’s Wu Feng as a 2014 Outstanding Faculty Award winner.
The awards, sponsored by the Dominion Foundation, a philanthropic unit of the energy company based in Richmond, Va., is the commonwealth’s highest honor for university faculty. It honors a Virginia faculty member’s commitment to excellence in teaching, research, knowledge integration, and public service.
“I am honored to receive this award, which highlights the commitment and passion of faculty who continually strive to enhance student learning through research and education,” said Feng, professor and Elizabeth and James Turner Fellow in the Department of Computer Science, part of the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech.
Feng also holds professorships with the Virginia Tech Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Virginia Tech Faculty of Health Sciences.
The honor for Feng follows several other awards and accolades, including a five-year Turner Fellowship awarded in March 2012 by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. The fellowship was created by James and Elizabeth Turner in 2011 and included a $1 million gift, allowing two awards in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, each with a five-year renewable term.
Having joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2006, Feng is an internationally recognized researcher in efficient parallel computing. His work sits at the synergistic intersection of computer architecture, systems software and tools, middleware, and applications. It ranges from core computer science research to highly interdisciplinary research, including the life sciences and neuroscience.
Feng is best known for his research in energy-efficient parallel computing, which started in 2001 with his founding of the Supercomputing in Small Spaces project and resulted in the creation of Green Destiny, a 240-node supercomputer in 5 square feet with a power envelope of only 3.2 kilowatts. This audacious invention led to international media coverage by CNN and The New York Times, among others.
In turn, the supercomputer inspired the founding of the Green500, which identifies the world’s greenest supercomputers; mpiBLAST, efficient accelerated software that finds regions of local similarity between biological sequences; and more recently, HokieSpeed, a computing resource for science and engineering that debuted as the greenest commodity supercomputer in the United States in 2011.
Feng has more than 200 publications with 50-plus awards, including six Best Paper Awards and three R&D 100 Awards – known as the “Oscars of Invention” -- that connect to research fields as diverse as biology, geology, education, and health care. Feng’s earlier networking research during the 1990s culminated in a software technique called dynamic right-sizing that automatically accelerated network performance and is now part of the Linux operating system.
More recently, Feng’s research has delivered parallel computing to the masses by simultaneously coordinating two types of silicon brains – a central processing unit (CPU), or “left brain,” and a graphics processing unit, (GPU), or “right brain” – in mobile devices, desktops, supercomputers, and MOON and cloud computing to accelerate research and innovation and to educate tomorrow’s scientists and engineers from elementary schools to universities. In all, his research has been supported by more than 70 grants, totaling more than $32 million, including the first award from NVIDIA to “Compute the Cure” for cancer.In November 2013, Feng presented a talk on big data at second annual TEDxVirginiaTech event in Blacksburg.
Feng received a doctoral degree in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996, a master’s degree in computer engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1990, and bachelor’s degrees in computer engineering and music (with honors), both in 1988, also from Penn State.
Feng is one of 12 Outstanding Faculty Award awardees this year to be honored by the council. Feng and his fellow honorees will be honored at a luncheon in Richmond on Feb. 20, 2014. Prior to the lunch, recipients will be given an honorary introduction on the floor of the General Assembly.