The chair is awarded to those whose professional accomplishments mirror those of its namesake, MIT and Harvard alumnus Thomas R. Brown, who co-founded Burr-Brown Research Corporation in Tucson in 1956, and headed it until his retirement in 1998. Burr Brown was a manufacturer of precision electronic equipment and was acquired by Texas Instruments in 2000.
Chen, an imminent scholar in data mining and informatics, is director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Eller College. It is through his lab that he developed the Dark Web project to track terrorism online, as well as the crime-fighting product COPLINK®, which allows law enforcement agencies to draw information from multiple databases and identify associations between crimes. The latter technology formed the basis of a spinoff company, Knowledge Computing Corporation, which has gone on to be a Tucson success story. The firm merged with crime analytics company i2 before being purchased by IBM Corporation. Chen is also founder of Caduceus Intelligence Corporation, a UA spinoff company in healthcare information systems.
The Brown Chair was awarded to Chen following a rigorous internal nomination process helmed by senior Eller faculty. “It was clear that the chair should be awarded to an outstanding faculty member who is not only firing on all cylinders of academe, but also an innovator who is turning ideas into real impact,” said Len Jessup, dean of the Eller College. “Dr. Chen’s work does just that.”
Sarah Smallhouse, president of the Brown Foundations, added, “Dr. Chen’s innovations will surely benefit mankind in important ways, and there is no doubt in my mind that were my father alive today, he would be honored to be associated with this creative work. The Brown Foundation trustees are most pleased Dr. Chen has been chosen to carry on the legacy of Tom Brown and Burr-Brown. He is a fantastic example of how an academic researcher can move new ideas from their laboratory into practice.”