Amazon Scholar Kathleen McKeown receives dual honors
McKeown awarded IEEE Innovation in Societal Infrastructure Award and named a member of the American Philosophical Society.
Kathleen McKeown, an Amazon Scholar and Henry and Gertrude Rothschild professor of computer science at Columbia University, has recently been awarded the 2023 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Innovation in Societal Infrastructure Award, and also named as a member of the American Philosophical Society (APS).
“I am thrilled to be honored for my research by IEEE and APS. My focus over the last 10 years has been on research that can have an impact on society, for example through automatic generation of updates on a disaster,” McKeown said. “Currently I am focusing on analysis of emotion in social media posts to identify people who are experiencing grief in the Black community in response to events of our times. This is an interdisciplinary project involving social work, linguistics and psychiatry.”
McKeown, who is also the founding director of Columbia’s Data Science Institute, joined Amazon as a Scholar in 2019 with Amazon Web Services, where she works on text summarization, natural-language generation, multimedia explanation, question answering, and multilingual applications.
The IEEE Innovation in Societal Infrastructure Award, established in November 2011, “recognizes significant technological achievements and contributions to the establishment, development, and proliferation of innovative societal infrastructure systems through the application of information technology with an emphasis on distributed computing systems.”
IEEE honored McKeown “for pushing the boundaries of natural language processing for social media analysis, news summarization, crisis informatics, and creating a digital library for patient care.”
“For nearly a century, the IEEE Awards Program has paid tribute to technical professionals whose exceptional achievements and outstanding contributions have made a lasting impact on technology, society, and the engineering profession,” explained K.J. Ray Liu, the 2022 IEEE president and CEO.
The APS, which bills itself as “the oldest learned society in the United States,” was founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin “for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge.” APS membership comprises 818 resident members and 157 international members; only 5,787 members have been elected since 1743.
The APS aims to meet its founder’s mission by honoring and engaging “leading scholars, scientists, and professionals through elected membership and opportunities for interdisciplinary, intellectual fellowship.
“We support research and discovery through grants and fellowships, lectures, publications, prizes, exhibitions, and public education. We serve scholars through a research library of manuscripts and other collections internationally recognized for their enduring historic value. The American Philosophical Society’s current activities reflect the founder’s spirit of inquiry, provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and convey our conviction that intellectual inquiry and critical thought are inherently in the best interest of the public.”
McKeown has received many honors and distinctions throughout her career, including being selected a AAAI Fellow, an ACM Fellow, and one of the Founding Fellows of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL). Early in her career she received a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award; in 2010, she received the Anita Borg Women of Vision Award in Innovation for her work on text summarization; and in 2019 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Since joining Amazon as a Scholar three years ago, she has contributed to authoring several papers related to text summarization, natural-language generation, and other conversational AI, and natural language processing topics.