"Prof. Mike Berry selected Professor of the Week by the Daily Beacon"

News Item Dated: 16 September 2002
From:
The Daily Beacon (09/16/02); Hinkle, Katharine

Michael Berry is staunch in his commitment to encouraging his students to be "leaders not followers." Berry, a professor of computer science, has been named this week's "Professor of the Week" because of great achievement in his field.

After graduating from South Gwinette High School in Snellville, Georgia in 1978 as the class valedictorian, Berry entered the University of Georgia in Athens where he graduated in three years with a B.S. in mathematics and a minor in English literature.

"I could have been an English major," Berry said, "but my heart was in math."

This love of math led Berry to North Carolina State University where he got his master's degree in applied mathematics. He then continued to the University of Illinois in Champagne, where he received his doctorate. Between schools, Berry worked at IBM but left after a year.

"One day," Berry said, "I got to work and I forgot my tie, and the minute I got in the door, I must have had ten people ask me 'Where's your tie?' I knew right then and there 'This isn't going to work.'

"I just really wanted to be a college professor."

After a year of teaching in the department of computation and information sciences at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, Berry joined UT in the summer of 1991 as a research professor. By that fall, he had become a full professor.

"Our department is a real star," Berry said in reference to his fondness of UT's computer science program. "The administration has been very supportive of our department. We are the best computer science program in the state."

Part of Berry's success as a professor comes from his vision of computer science as an art form.

"(Computer Science) is like an art and a science together," Berry said. "Writing a good program is a work of art."

"Dr. Berry has certain expectations but he's flexible and willing to compromise," said Geoffrey Reynolds, a former student of Berry's and computer science major. "He is willing to make sacrifices to ensure we learn what we need to."

Indeed, Berry is not only a respected professor, but is accomplished in the greater scientific community. He has worked on a number of projects, including one that develops computer systems designed to assist other scientists in areas such as mapping out parts of the body or ecosystems, called bioinformatics.

"What we have to learn is how does computer science evolve the science," Berry explained.

Berry has also written several informational books, including Understanding Search Engines: Mathematical Modeling and Text Retrieval, which was co-written by Murray Browne. The book has the distinction of being the third best seller on amazon.com for its publisher, SIAM, or Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

In 1997, Berry won the Undergraduate Computational Engineering Science Award from the U.S. Department of Energy. In 1998, he was also awarded the Chancellor's Award for Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement.

When he's not teaching, writing or developing software, Berry can be found at his daughters' soccer and swimming meets.

"I am a big-time soccer dad," Berry said.

He is also director of computing curriculum at Tennessee's Governor's School.

Berry currently teaches Computer Science 370, an introductory course in scientific computing.

"This is one of the first classes I took. It spurned my interest in (computer science)," he said.

In keeping with his vision, Berry added, "We're trying to train our students to be the next builders of technology."

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View the original news item at: http://dailybeacon.utk.edu/showarticleold.php?id=7128
 

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