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News Release

For immediate use

June 12, 2006 -- No. 310

Local angles: Charlotte; Naples, Fla.

Note: To download a photo, see end of story.

Computer science scholar Manocha named
Phi Delta Theta/Matthew Mason professor

CHAPEL HILL - Dr. Dinesh Manocha, an expert in computer graphics and geometric modeling, has been named the new Phi Delta Theta/Matthew Mason Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The appointment is effective July 1.

The new professorship in the College of Arts and Sciences is the second endowed chair to be funded by a fraternity at UNC. Philosophy scholar C.D.C. "David" Reeve was named Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) Distinguished Professor, the first such professorship, last summer.

Under the leadership of 1998 UNC graduate Shoff Allison of Charlotte, 241 donors raised $728,148 for the Phi Delta Theta/Matthew Mason professorship. Garnett Smith of Naples, Fla., a 1969 UNC graduate, gave the lead gift of $100,000.

The professorship qualifies for a matching state grant of $334,000 from the North Carolina Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund, bringing the endowment to more than $1 million. It is named in honor of the late Matthew Mason of Chapel Hill, a long-time employee of the Phi Delta Theta house who was made a member of the fraternity later in his career.

"This professorship is a great way to support Phi Delta Theta and honor Matthew Mason," Smith said.

Mason, Allison said, "was the glue and bond that tied Phi Delta Theta together for the last 60 years."

Manocha has been on UNC's computer science faculty since 1992. His research on mathematical foundations and applications has been used in scientific computations, robotics, 3-D computer graphics and virtual reality by the scientific community, the computer industry and the entertainment world.

He has published more than 200 papers with his collaborators. With Dr. Ming C. Lin, also a UNC computer science professor, Manocha leads UNC's GAMMA research group in the computer science department. The group has produced several research software libraries that have been downloaded by tens of thousands of users and licensed by more than 40 commercial vendors.

Manocha teaches courses on graphics, modeling and robotics. He has supervised more than 35 master's and doctoral students. He and his students have won at least eight best paper awards at major computer science conferences.

"This professorship recognizes outstanding research and teaching," said Dr. Bernadette Gray-Little, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Dinesh Manocha is a perfect fit, because he has made groundbreaking discoveries in his field and been an excellent mentor to his undergraduate and graduate students, in the classroom and the laboratory.

"Dr. Manocha's classes feature extensive interaction with students, and he covers the material with great care and precision," she said. "He consistently brings current research into his computer graphics course, and he views teaching and research as intimately tied together."

Manocha received an undergraduate degree in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi in 1987. He earned a doctorate in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1992.

His research awards include UNC's Hettleman Award for Scholarly Achievement in 1998; the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship from the Sloan Foundation in 1995; the Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research in 1996; and the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 1995.

Manocha has been on editorial boards of leading academic journals in computer graphics, visualization, geometric modeling and applicable algebra. He has been a program chair for many conferences in these areas.

The sorority Delta Delta Delta at UNC is leading a campaign to fund the first sorority professorship. Gifts supporting fraternity and sorority professorships count toward the Carolina First Campaign, a comprehensive, multi-year, private fund-raising campaign with a goal of $2 billion to support Carolina's vision of becoming the nation's leading public university.

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