News Item Dated:
16 September 2002
(09/16/02); Hinkle, Katharine
Michael Berry is staunch in his commitment to encouraging his students
"leaders not followers." Berry, a professor of computer science, has
this week's "Professor of the Week" because of great achievement in his
After graduating from South Gwinette High School in Snellville, Georgia
as the class valedictorian, Berry entered the University of Georgia in
where he graduated in three years with a B.S. in mathematics and a minor
"I could have been an English major," Berry said, "but my heart was in
This love of math led Berry to North Carolina State University where he
master's degree in applied mathematics. He then continued to the
Illinois in Champagne, where he received his doctorate. Between schools,
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
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
sciences at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, Berry joined UT in
summer of 1991 as a research professor. By that fall, he had become a
"Our department is a real star," Berry said in reference to his fondness
computer science program. "The administration has been very supportive
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
as an art form.
"(Computer Science) is like an art and a science together," Berry said.
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
science major. "He is willing to make sacrifices to ensure we learn what
Indeed, Berry is not only a respected professor, but is accomplished in
greater scientific community. He has worked on a number of projects,
one that develops computer systems designed to assist other scientists
such as mapping out parts of the body or ecosystems, called
"What we have to learn is how does computer science evolve the science,"
Berry has also written several informational books, including
Search Engines: Mathematical Modeling and Text Retrieval, which was
by Murray Browne. The book has the distinction of being the third best
amazon.com for its publisher, SIAM, or Society of Industrial and Applied
In 1997, Berry won the Undergraduate Computational Engineering Science
from the U.S. Department of Energy. In 1998, he was also awarded the
Chancellor's Award for Professional Promise in Research and Creative
When he's not teaching, writing or developing software, Berry can be
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
Berry currently teaches Computer Science 370, an introductory course in
"This is one of the first classes I took. It spurned my interest in
science)," he said.
In keeping with his vision, Berry added, "We're trying to train our
be the next builders of technology."
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