UMSI 2015 Alumni Awards Announced

The School of Information will honor three exceptional individuals for their contributions to the information field at the school’s annual Alumni Awards ceremony on October 9, during Homecoming Weekend.

The Distinguished Alumni Award goes to Dr. Paul W.T. Poon (PhD ’82). Dr. Poon has represented the School of Information and the university as one of the most recognized library leaders in Asia for nearly a half-century.

He has served as chief librarian at three premier academic libraries in the Asia-Pacific Region – New Asia College (the Chinese University of Hong Kong), City University of Hong Kong, and the University of Macau, where he has been University Librarian since 2005.

At Macau University, he spearheaded the formation of the Macau Academic Libraries Alliance (MALA), a consortium among all the university and college libraries in Macau. He works with the U-M Office of Undergraduate Students to recruit students from Hong Kong and Macau and has mentored students attending the University of Michigan. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Shanghai Jiaotong University Library.

According to the U-M Alumni Association president Steve Grafton, “Dr. Poon has been a strong leader for the Alumni Association in creating opportunities for alumni throughout Asia to stay connected to Michigan. For years, he has served as the president of the Association’s Hong Kong Alumni Club and is still one of the most recognizable leaders of that group.”

Receiving the Entrepreneurial and Innovation Alumni Award is Sameer Halai (MSI ’08). Sameer is a co-founder and Chief Design Officer of SunFunder, an organization that works to bring energy access to more people around the world. He was one of the first UMSI graduates to specialize in social computing. Before starting SunFunder, he was the Director of User Experience at Limeade, a healthcare/wellness provider, where he helped define the future of healthcare incentive systems. He has also worked in research at Microsoft Research’s FUSE Labs and in the Visual Communication Lab at IBM Research.

In addition to his degree from UMSI, he holds a BE in computer engineering from the University of Mumbai.

He was nominated by Sean Munson (PhD ’12), who praised SunFunder as “an SI-flavored project with great potential for social impact.” SunFunder is dedicated to financing the emerging solar market transformation. Since its founding, the company has financed over $4 million worth of solar projects, with 18 solar companies in six countries, with a zero percent default rate.

Stuart Feldman, Google’s vice president of engineering, has been chosen to receive the UMSI Honorary Alumni Award.

Feldman is a renowned computer scientist whose career has been based in the corporate world at Bell Laboratories, IBM Research and Google. At Google, he is responsible for the health and productivity of Google’s engineering offices in the eastern part of the Americas, Asia, and Australia.

According to Dan Atkins, founding dean of the School of Information, “Stu Feldman has been very generous with his talent on a voluntary basis including serving as president of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) and service on many important panels and advisory groups for the government and academia. He is the rare individual who, if he makes a commitment, completely follows through on doing it. His kinship with UMSI stems from his conviction that computer and information technology can be used to better the lives of humans and thus better the world.”

Feldman did his academic work in astrophysics and mathematics and earned his AB at Princeton and his PhD at MIT. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Mathematics by the University of Waterloo in 2010. He received the 2003 ACM Software System Award. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, of the ACM, and of the AAAS and serves on a number of government advisory committees. Since 2012, he has also served on the UMSI External Advisory Board.

The awards will be presented by interim dean Thomas Finholt at the Alumni Awards ceremony on Friday, October 9 at 1:30 p.m. in the Ehrlicher Room, 3100 North Quad, 105 S. State Street, as part of the Homecoming Weekend events. All U-M alumni are welcome to attend.

Posted on October 5, 2015