Prof. Kumar Named Chair of Excellence

Posted on 2015-09-28

Santosh KumarProf. Santosh Kumar has been named the Lillian & Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Computer Science. Authorized by the Tennessee General Assembly in March, this is the first state-endowed chair of excellence in computer science to be established in Tennessee.

"Dr. Kumar is a recognized national leader in the area of mobile health," said Prof. Dipankar Dasgupta, Interim Chair of the Computer Science Department. "I am delighted that he has received this honor for his ongoing outstanding achievements that exemplify imagination, courage, and high ability for advancing medical informatics research."

Prof. Lan Wang, Associate Chair of the department, added, "We are very proud of Dr. Kumar's achievements and excited to have the department's first endowed chair of excellence. As a colleague, I have been deeply impressed by his intense focus on his work, unique ability to work on both theoretical and systems research, excellent skills in managing large projects, and commitment to advancing the department's long-term goals."

Santosh is regarded as a national leader in mobile health (mHealth) and is frequently invited to speak at international conferences, universities, and federal agencies. In 2015, he was invited to serve as an advisor on President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative. Also in 2015, he was selected by the National Science Foundation as a role model for researchers in mHealth and spoke about his career to aspiring investigators in smart health and wellness. In 2014, he became the director of the NIH-funded Center of Excellence for Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge (MD2K), the first of its kind in the U.S. and part of NIH’s Big Data-to-Knowledge Initiative. He was invited to the White House in 2013 to speak on the future of biosensors, and in 2012, was asked to advise the NIH director on mHealth. He has been a faculty mentor at the NIH mHealth Training Institute, and in 2011 chaired a national meeting on mHealth Evidence that was jointly organized by NIH, NSF, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the McKesson Foundation.

Santosh obtained his Ph.D. in 2006 from The Ohio State University, where his dissertation was awarded the SBC Presidential fellowship. This honor recognized him as the first-ever student at Ohio State to have his research published in ACM MobiCom, a highly-prestigious venue with acceptance rates in single digits.

Upon graduation, Santosh joined the University of Memphis as an Assistant Professor in Computer Science. During his 9 years of faculty service, Santosh has received over $18 million in federal research grants as principal investigator.

In one of the most recent grants, Santosh heads one of 11 national Big Data centers of excellence funded by the National Institutes of Health. The MD2K Center of Excellence in Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge ( is headquartered in Memphis and involves 20+ investigators in computing, engineering, behavioral science, and medicine from Cornell, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Memphis, Northwestern, Ohio State, Rice, UMass, UCLA, UCSD, and UCSF. The MD2K Center of Excellence is the first $10+ million federal center grant awarded to the University of Memphis.

Other notable grants Santosh has been awarded include:

  • 2007: In his first year at U of M, Santosh won three federal grants as principal investigator. One of these was the $1.7 million AutoSense project (U01) from the National Institutes of Health that was funded in the Genes Environment and Health Initiative (GEI). Among the 54 projects funded in this special presidential initiative, Santosh was the youngest principal investigator in the country.
  • 2009: Santosh received a $2.7 million grant called FieldStream from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This was the largest grant in the nation awarded by the NetSE program of NSF. In the FieldStream project, Santosh led a group of 7 investigators from CMU, Georgia Tech, Memphis, UMass Amherst, and UCLA.
  • 2012: Santosh was awarded an R01 from NIH as part of its OppNet initiative and a Smart Health project from NSF.

Santosh has published his research in top-tier venues in several areas of computer science. This includes mobile computing (ACM MobiCom, ACM MobiHoc, ACM UbiComp, IEEE/ACM Transactions on Mobile Computing), sensor systems (ACM SenSys, ACM Transactions on Sensor Networks), data modeling (ACM\IEEE IPSN), human computer interaction (ACM CHI), and networking (IEEE Transactions on Networking, IEEE INFOCOM). He has also published in high-quality health research journals (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Journal of American Medical Informatics, Drug & Addiction, Biological Psychology). His published work is cited widely, with an average of 70 citations per article.

Among the awards Santosh has received for his work are an early career research award and a distinguished research award from the University of Memphis. In 2010, Santosh became the first person in Tennessee and other Mid-South states to be selected by Popular Science magazine as one of the America’s ten most brilliant scientists under the age of 38.