Systems expert Shan Lu was promoted to Professor of Computer Science at the University of Chicago, effective this fall.
Lu’s research focuses on software reliability and efficiency, particularly detecting, diagnosing, and fixing functional and performance bugs in large software systems. Since arriving at UChicago in 2014, Lu has won multiple best paper awards at prestigious computer science conferences, served on a number of program committees, and currently serves as the Chair of ACM-SIGOPS — the international special interest group on operating systems.
Before her time at UChicago, Lu was the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and received her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 2008.
When Lu arrived at UChicago, she joined a much smaller CS department compared to today. But Haryadi Gunawi, Hank Hoffmann, Andrew Chien, and Ian Foster had already established a strong core in systems research, and Lu jumped into many collaborations with the group, expanding her research focus beyond early work on timing bugs in multi-threaded software.
“I feel like the research I'm doing has become much broader in the last five years,” Lu said. “Working with my U-Chicago colleagues in the Systems Group, and beyond to collaborations with newer faculty such as Blase Ur and Michael Maire, I explored all these different areas. That’s something I really feel grateful about.”
Today, Lu’s group also collaborates with scientists from other institutions, such as University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles, and North Carolina State University, and companies including Microsoft. Recent high-profile papers have developed tools for optimizing and finding and fixing flaws in web applications, found failure-causing configuration errors in software systems, and found performance bugs that slow down program execution.
In addition to collaborations with fellow faculty, Lu credits her students with expanding her research horizons into new areas such as programming languages and the usability of consumer smart devices. Lu has also helped build the department’s global reputation by organizing a summer program for international students to visit the city and do research with UChicago CS faculty.
“It's really the student who drives a project, and I do feel very grateful for what my students have brought to my research group,” Lu said. “That's what allows me to branch out, to look at different things. I feel like there are many exciting problems out there, and I have these good students from this department. In general, I feel really proud about this department, and I feel very optimistic about what can be done in the future.”
In her career, Lu was named an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in 2014, and received the Distinguished Alumni Educator Award from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois in 2013, and an NSF Career Award in 2010. Her papers have won the Google Scholar Classic Paper 2017, Best Paper Awards at USENIX OSDI 2016 and USENIX FAST 2013, 3 ACM-SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Awards at ICSE 2019, ICSE 2015 and FSE 2014, an ACM-SIGPLAN Research Highlight Award at PLDI 2011, and an IEEE Micro Top Picks in ASPLOS 2006. Shan is also a member of the informal ASPLOS Hall of Fame.