Knox Faculty Members Garner 'Scientist of the Year' Awards

March 04, 2011

by Lotte Vonk '13

Two Knox College faculty members in the Department of Computer Science, John Dooley and David Bunde, have been named 2011 Scientists of the Year by the Quad City Engineering and Science Council.

Dooley (at right in photo above) was chosen as the council's Senior Scientist of the Year, and Bunde (at left in photo above) was selected as Junior Scientist of the Year. They received their awards Feb. 24 at the 49th Annual National Engineers Week Banquet in Davenport, Iowa.

The QCESC annually recognizes local scientists, engineers, and teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The Scientist of the Year awards are given to individuals whose exceptional achievements and outstanding contributions have made a lasting impact on their profession.

A professor of computer science and chair of the Department of Computer Science, Dooley has been a member of the Knox faculty since 2001. His professional work experience combines 17 years of teaching and 18 years as a software engineer in the private sector.

At Knox, Dooley's main teaching interests are software development and security. His teaching philosophy involves encouraging his students to explore.

"Over my teaching career, I've been slowly moving away from a strictly lecture style to a combination of lecture, in-class exercises, demonstrations and group work in class," he said. "This seems to help make the lecture parts more real for the students."

"I think my experience in the private sector gives me some ‘street cred' with my students. When I talk about software development, I can relate real stories of real product development," Dooley added.

Knox, he said, "is a great place to be. The students are excited about being here and are interested in so many things. I think Knox has more energy than other places I've been. It keeps me young."

Bunde, assistant professor of computer science at Knox, went straight into teaching after earning his Ph.D. in 2006.

"Being fresh from grad school probably helps me tell students what to expect there, and I have a different perspective on how to prepare and apply," he said.

At Knox, Bunde prefers a "learning by doing" style of teaching.

"This is most obvious in the introductory class, when we'll write programs together to help students master the novel way of thinking," Bunde said. "Even in upper-level classes, though, there are often opportunities for them to organize the operating system, design algorithms, or develop networking protocols."

Bunde tries to gets his students involved outside of the classroom as well, by letting them know about opportunities such as internships, summer jobs and conferences.

"Computer science is exciting, not only in what we've been able to make computers do, but also in how all the challenging problems have been solved," he said. "I want my students to feel that excitement as well."

Bunde's main teaching and research subjects are algorithms and parallel computing.

"Algorithms are the recipes by which computers solve problems. The study of algorithms is the pursuit of the fastest possible ways of solving problems," he explained. "Parallel computing is how to organize multiple computing elements to work together to solve a larger problem than they could tackle separately. I research systems to help make parallel programs run more efficiently by speeding up this coordination."

"Parallel programming is emerging as a major topic in computer science, but is not very commonly taught," Bunde said. "Knox is at the front of this trend."

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 48 states and 51 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.