Carla Gomes, professor of computing and information science and director of the Cornell Institute for Computational Sustainability, has been selected as one of an elite group of fellows of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Gomes will spend her 2011-12 sabbatical year at Harvard continuing her work on computational sustainability in collaboration with Harvard faculty and some of the 50 other Radcliffe fellows, who include scientists, musicians, mathematicians, filmmakers, anthropologists, biologists and writers.
"These exceptional scholars, researchers, and artists are poised for a year of discovery, innovation and creation," said Dean Barbara J. Grosz, Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "As they work within and across disciplines, transformative ideas emerge during the year that have a lasting impact well beyond the fellowship itself."
"People here are doing work that really interests me," Gomes said. "Interacting with these researchers is very exciting."
Gomes studies what computer scientists call combinatorial problems, where a computer is given a large number of variables and must find a solution that provides the best overall result for all of them. Most recently she has applied this to problems in environmental sustainability, finding, for example, a balance between the needs of the fishing industry and the ocean ecology, or tradeoffs between commercial land use and wildlife preservation.
The Radcliffe institute chose 51 men and women from 800 applicants based on prior accomplishments and the potential of their projects to have long-term impact.