Over the years I have worked with many undergraduate and graduate students, in all my major fields of Physics, Biology, and Computer Science. Rather than having a career-long focus on some particular research area, my research, and my students' work has ranged far and wide. The strength of this approach is that it allows me to develop broad and deep approaches to complex research areas. Natural language processing (NLP) is just such a complex research area. It has the potential to build deep foundations for two major areas: Text Mining and Information Retrieval. While both of these areas pose serious research challenges, neither focuses on the deeper issues of NLP. We all know that search systems such as Google cannot answer queries of a conceptual type, the kind of queries that everyone would like to have answers to. Only NLP has the tools and approaches to form the conceptual/semantic basis for truly powerful Information Retrieval and Text Mining systems.

For students at every level, my lab has a wide variety of research projects available. The work can range from informal involvement, to reading courses, to Masters theses, to PhD dissertations, to postdoctoral research.

Because of the nature of the research in the lab, no simple summary will give you a proper view. But by browsing this site, and looking at our papers can help, especially the important recent paper we have written on our radical new approach to natural language processing. The approach is not just computational, but in its breadth involves our approach to and use of one of the newest linguistics theories, Construction Grammar.

Our NLP work is using a 300M word corpus of Biomedical papers. Because I have experience as a Biology Faculty member (ten years at the University of Illinois) I have much more insight into the contents of our corpus than the typical computational linguist.

My past students have moved on to jobs such as CS faculty, researchers at IBM, as well as commercial positions at Google, Oracle, Draper Labs, and in the biotechnology field. Undergraduates have moved on to graduate school at U Mass, Harvard, Georgia Tech, Maryland, and NYU.

One of our proudest moments came in 2005 when an undergraduate in my lab, Andrea Grimes, won the top prize (female) for undergraduate CS research from schools in the US and Canada, beating students from MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, etc., beating all others. Andrea is now PhD candidate at Georgia Tech.

The best way by far to learn about my research is to sit down with me and discuss your interests and possible projects available in my lab. No simple on-paper summary can replace just sitting down and talking. Jeff Satterley, a PhD student in my lab, entered in Fall 2007, so he can tell you a lot about what it's like to do research in my group, especially his work in NLP and how it relates to text mining and information retrieval.

Office: 450 WVH. Lab: 460WVH. Email: bob.futrelle@gmail.com

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October 2009