New Faculty Spotlight: Dingwen Tao

Closeup of Dingwen Tao
Dingwen Tao

This is the third in a series of articles highlighting new faculty members from each college at Washington State University.

Dingwen Tao, assistant professor of computer science, is wasting little time in applying his expertise in high-performance computing (HPC) solutions to WSU’s array of research interests.

Barely a month into his new position as an assistant professor in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, Tao has landed three grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Department of Energy and is aiming to tackle some of the region’s challenging issues using supercomputers.

His latest achievement is the Early Career Research Award for Excellence in High Performance Computing. The award is sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society’s Technical Consortium on High Performance Computing and goes to early career researchers who have made outstanding and potentially long-lasting contributions in the field of high-performance computing.

Tao earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics.

“To be honest, I didn’t understand HPC challenges very well when I was an undergraduate student,” Tao said.

But he was intrigued at the idea of tackling large-scale computational problems. He earned his Ph.D. in computer science at UC Riverside and completed an internship at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in 2015, which introduced him to the inland Northwest.

After two years as a professor at Alabama, he jumped at the opportunity to join WSU’s faculty.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Tao said. “WSU has a really good connection with PNNL and DOE, and there’s a group of faculty here working on HPC and scalable data science. Although I just joined WSU I’ve had discussions with other faculty members about challenges in many computational science and engineering domains such as agriculture and how we can benefit them by efficiently using artificial intelligence in supercomputers.”

Tao is teaching a computer networks class with about 65 students this semester. He enjoys the balance between teaching and research, and he often gains insights from his students that he can apply to his own projects.

When he needs to get away from the computer, Tao likes to travel. He and his wife have visited nearly every national park in the U.S., and are looking forward to exploring more of the Northwest’s beauty.

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