Karen Spärck Jones Award 2021 – Second Call for Nominations

A pioneer of information retrieval, the computer science sub-discipline that also underpins the technology of modern Web search engines, Karen Spärck Jones was a British professor of Computers and Information at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge. Her contributions to the fields of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Information Retrieval (IR), especially with regard to experimentation, have been outstanding, highly influential and lasting, and include the introduction of InverseDocument Frequency for relevance ranking.

To learn more about Karen and her work, see:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Sp%C3%A4rck_Jones
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8FecRxSiUM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fYeKiebpuo

We encourage former advisors of talented scientists to provide the judges with a rich and diverse candidate pool to select from.

  • 10 September 2021 — closing date for nominations;
    • 17 September 2021 — deadline for support letters;
    • 15 December 2021 — notification of the prize recipient;
    • 10 April-14 April 2022 — recipient presents keynote at ECIR 2022 in Stavanger, Norway.

Eligibility. Open to all NLP/IR researchers, who have no more than 10 years experience after their Ph.D. at the closing date for nominations (non-research times, e.g. parental leave or career breaks, will be taken into account to ensure equity; please point at such times in the nominee’s CVs).

Criterion. To have endeavoured to advance our understanding of NLP or IR or both through experimentation.

Nominations. The following should be provided:
• Name of nominee, position, affiliation, years since completion of the Ph.D.;
• Name of person proposing the nominee, position, and affiliation;
• Short case for the award, not to exceed 2,500 words, highlighting the contributions the individual has made;
• List of the individual’s top five publications reflecting the relevant contributions, and role within these; and
• Two supporting letters from people who would like to encourage/support the nomination.

Nominations should be emailed to the panel chair below.  The support letters can be emailed separately by the referees.  It is possible for individuals to nominate themselves, in which case they should provide three support letters.  Please note that we anticipate that people who provide support letters will do so only for a single candidate.

Award Panel. The Award Panel Chair, appointed by the BCS IRSG Committee, will invite panel members from amongst representatives of the BCS main council, the BCS IRSG Committee, the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL), the Award-sponsoring organisation (unless there could be a conflict of interest), as well as seasoned experts in IR and NLP from academia and industry.

Prize. The recipient of the award will receive a certificate, a trophy, a cash prize of £1000 plus expenses for the awardee to travel to ECIR 2022.

Note that the Karen Spärck Jones Award will now alternate between ECIR and EACL to promote integration between the IR and NLP communities that Karen Spärck Jones was an active member of.

Timeline for the 2021 Award to be presented at ECIR 2022: TO BE ADDED MW

The Karen Spärck Jones Award is sponsored by Microsoft Research Cambridge; we would like to thank our generous sponsors.

Current Award Chair: Professor Jochen L. Leidner <leidner AT acm.org>, Coburg University of Applied Sciences and University of Sheffield.

For a list of previous recipients of the award, cf. http://irsg.bcs.org/ksjaward.php .

About Jochen L. Leidner
Jochen L. Leidner

Dr Jochen L Leidner is Director of Research, R&D at Refinitiv Labs in London (formerly Reuters Ltd). He is also a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Data Analytics at the University of Sheffield, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society for his contributions to geo-computing and a Member of the Board of the Information Retrieval Specialist Group (IRSG) of the BCS. A computer scientist and computational linguist by training, he leads a Research & Development team in London, which he built up in 2013. He was a Royal Society Edinburgh Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh, where he was Principal Investigator in mobile open-domain question answering. He holds Master's degree in computational linguistics, English language and literature and computer science from Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg and in engineering from the University of Cambridge. In 2007, he obtained a PhD in Informatics He has edited, authored or co-authored over 60 publications and over a dozen patent applications/patents. His research focuses on improving information access to or using textual data, especially information extraction, question answering, and legal/financial/geographical applications. He is also interested in methodology and ethics.

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