Being chosen to chair an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Conference of any kind is both a great honor and massive undertaking, one entrusted only to the most prolific researchers in the field.
Mizzou Engineering’s Chi-Ren Shyu is set to chair two in the span of a calendar year.
Shyu, Paul K. and Dianne Shumaker Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and director of the MU Informatics Institute, recently was a co-chair of the 2017 IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedicine (BIBM) in Kansas City with Drexel University’s Xiaohua Tony Hu, and he will serve alongside Asia University President Jeffrey Tsai and Professor Jean-Claude Latombe of Stanford University as co-chair of the 2018 IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Bioengineering (BIBE) in Taiwan next October.
Chairs of events of this level of prestige — both BIBM and BIBE are premier conferences in biomedical informatics for their impact and h-index factors — are responsible for identifying Technical Program Committee co-chairs to define the themes of the conference and recruit top-notch members to review submissions and select the best of the best to present at these events. At BIBM, for example, there were 414 submissions from a total of 1,675 authors; only 157 were selected.
Chairs also oversee the organization of the event, set up workshops and keynote speakers and help set the overall theme for the proceedings. Serving as chair is a recognition of a researcher’s quality of work and shines a positive light not only on their research, but their institution.
“To be chair, you have to get involved [with the organization] early enough,” Shyu explained. “You have to work with the steering committee, form a planning committee, seek out sponsorships for events and learn from previous chairs how to make it a successful conference. Plus, the hosting institution needs to be known in the field.
“We are fortunate to have a strong bioinformatics and biomedical informatics research and training program at MU. Support from the College of Engineering and School of Medicine have been excellent for faculty involvement with new initiatives, such as the Engineering’s pillars of pursuit in Big Data Analytics and Biomedical Innovations.”
Shyu and Tsai currently are working on selecting TPC chairs for next year’s BIBE event. The recent BIBM event, meanwhile, focused on five key themes: genomics and molecular structure, function and evolution; computational systems biology; medical informatics and translational bioinformatics; cross-cutting computational methods and bioinformatics infrastructures; and healthcare informatics.
“I think it was a great opportunity to bring international researchers to the state of Missouri,” Shyu said. “It not only brought business but also recognition to the state’s biotechnology and health IT industry. The unique chance to promote MU and UM System during the conference was invaluable. International researchers left the conference with a great impression about our exciting research in biomedical informatics on this campus.”