Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gul Agha

Gul Agha is one of the world's leading Computer Scientists.

Family

Dr. Agha was born in 1957. His paternal ancestors were from Shikarpur
and maternal ancestors were from Hyderabad. His father was a Civil
Servant, serving as District Magistrate at the time of partition, and
a poet. His mother was a physician, one of the first women in Sindh
to get her MBBS, at a time when the only medical college women in the
subcontinent could attend was in Delhi. Dr. Agha is married to
Jennifer Cole, a Professor of Linguistics at the University of
Illinois who has also written articles on Sindhi grammar, the
phonology of illiteration in Shah Latif's poetry, and developed
on-line material for learning Sindh. They have three daughters,
Leila, Eva and Sindha. Leila and Eva are doing their PhDs
respectively in Economics and Chemistry at top US universities.
Sindha is in High School and a creative artist who has already won
numerous US national awards for her stories, poetry and photography,
including two times Gold Medals for short fiction pieces from the US
Alliance for Young Writers which evaluates almost 50,000 entries each
year.

Education

Dr. Agha attended two years of primary school at the Habib Public
School in Karachi, then lived in Shikarpur for a couple of years where
he received private tutoring in Sindhi language and music. He then
attended a Sindhi medium middle School, Model School Hyderabad. He
did his Lower Secondary back at Habib Public School, and Higher
Secondary at Dayaram Jethmal Government Science College (DJ). He
stood second in the Karachi Higher Secondary Board exams in 1973, took
the American College Board tests, and was the first student from
Pakistan admitted to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech),
regarded as the most selective undergraduate university in the USA.
Having skipped two grades, at the age of 16, he was also among the
youngest to be admitted to that university. He was able to attend the
university only because of a full scholarship from the University,
covering all his expenses. He graduated with honors from Caltech, and
went to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor to do his PhD in
Psychology before deciding to switch to Computer Science. He obtained
a Master's degree in Psychology, and a Master's and PhD in Computer
and Communication Science from Michigan.

Professional Accomplishments

From 1983 to 1987, Dr. Agha taught at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT), and from 1987 to 1989 at Yale University. He then
moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is
now Professor of Computer Science, and of Electrical and Computer
Engineering. He has also been a Visiting Professor at University of
Grenoble and at the University of Paris in France. Dr. Agha is one of
the pioneers in Programming Languages for Parallel and Distibuted
Computing. As of 2009, he had published over 175 research articles in
international journals, and received almost US$10 million in research
grants. His research has been cited in over 4,000 research articles.
Dr. Agha has lectured at dozens of international scientific
conferences and universities in 25 countries. He has supervised over
20 PhD dissertations, and many of his students are now professors at
leading research universities in US, Canada and Europe. Among them
are two Sindhi students, Nadeem Jamali who is now a professor in
Canada, and Sandeep Uttamchandani, who is now a research scientist at
IBM.

Awards and Honors

Dr. Agha is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics
Engineers (IEEE), a Golden Core Member of the IEEE Computer Society,
and a Member of the European Academy of Science. He served as
Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Concurrency: Parallel, Distributed and Mobile
Computing (1994-98), and of the ACM Computing Surveys (1999-2007), the
most important cross-cutting journal in Computer Science. He has
received the Meritorious Service Award from the IEEE Computer Society,
a Recognition of Service Award from the Association for Computer
Machinary, IBM Faculty Fellow award, among many others.

Other Activities

Dr. Agha has been active in organizations promoting human rights, and
those promoting animal rights. While a 7th grader in Hyderabad,
Sindh, he organized students to protest against "One Unit" by wearing
badges. At Habib Public School and DJ Science College, he organized
Science Societies. An ethical vegetarian since childhood, he was a
founder of Vegetarian Societies in Ann Arbor and Boston. While living
in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a leading center of biomedical research,
he successfully lobbied the City Council to pass what remain the
toughest regulations on animal research in the USA. Dr. Agha has been
active in promoting the rights of Sindhis, lobbying governments and
making presentations at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
(now the UN Human Rights Council). He has given numerous
presentations on Sindhi history and culture to different organizations
of the Sindhi Diaspora. Dr. Agha is recognized as having created the
first major blog in the Sindhi language which attracted thousands of
visitors. He has strongly advocated the use of Sindhi language for
Science education, delivering technical lectures entirely in Sindhi at
the Sukkur IBA. His other interests include Sufism. In a lecture on
Sufism and the Philosophy of Science, co-sponsored by the University
of Illinois Departments of Philosopy and Religious Studies, Dr. Agha
argued that while orthodox religions and science are in serious
conflict, sufism and science can be viewed as independent and
parallel.

2 comments:

  1. Nice job Agha saheb God bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am much astonished to see the carrier, courage, confidence, and accomplishments of DR. GUL AGHA.He is genius and works honestly to enhance his carrier. He is our real inspiration and we all should copy him, for personal, professional; and for national achievements. God Bless him and provide him strength to inspire the Sindhi Youths. Ameen

    ReplyDelete