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CS student attains Central Michigan professorship

A man sits outside looking at the camera.

Soon-to-be doctorate Jesse Eickholt will make the jump from student to teacher this summer after accepting a faculty position at Central Michigan University.

A computer science student will soon make his final departure from MU, making the momentous jump from pupil to teacher. Jesse Eickholt, doctoral candidate in computer science, accepted an assistant professorship with Central Michigan University (CMU) where he will begin teaching and conducting his own research starting in July.

“They’re staring a new master’s program in information technology, and they’re going to have a component that focuses on informatics,” Eickholt said. “It was a good fit for me, because I have a real passion for both teaching and research.”

Eickholt’s work has been heavily rooted in bioinformatics, using data and statistical modeling to generate structural representations of organic molecules. He is a member of MULTICOM, one of two College of Engineering protein modeling teams at MU, and has collaborated with other departments on campus to employ data mining, statistical modeling and machine-learning techniques in other fields.

“I’m in the computer science department, but I’ve also taken lots of courses in the MU Informatics Institute and worked on projects with folks in the Biology Department,” Eickholt said. “There’s a kind of interdisciplinary atmosphere here that’s very much supported, and I’ve seen lots of fruit coming out of those types of interactions. I think that’s one thing I’ll definitely be able to take with me.”

Eickholt’s passions for both teaching and independent research were instilled early in his academic career, cultivated further by his role as a teaching assistant in the computer science department. His preparations for an eventual professorship began several years ago and continued under the constructive direction of his adviser, Jianlin Cheng, computer science professor and leader of MULTICOM.

“I think, the training that Jesse received in my group has helped him develop extraordinary research capabilities and excellent communication skills that make him very competitive in a tough academic job market,” said Cheng.

Eickholt’s journey through MU has been interdisciplinary, yet prudent, and can been characterized by a strong personal momentum toward a research position.

“I’ve done a number of things to get myself ready,” said Eickholt. “The university offers a ‘Preparing Future Faculty’ program, so I went through that. The College of Engineering also offers a ‘Preparing Future Engineering Professionals’ program, and I went through that as well.”

Eickholt’s best advice is to start early, and ask yourself what kind of position you really want to shoot for so you can make all the preparations, both personal and academic, in advance.

“I am very proud of what Jesse has achieved and very pleased to see he has realized his dream that started to pursue several years ago,” Cheng said. “I view a student of mine earning a professorship as my biggest professional achievement.”

Eickholt initially leaned toward smaller universities, focusing mostly on undergraduate teaching, but Cheng insisted that Eickholt had great potential to perform high quality research. Both feel that CMU fits the bill nicely.

With his acceptance finalized, Eickholt is now ready to settle in. He’ll begin setting up his lab July 1, meeting faculty and writing grant proposals. His course work will begin at the start of the fall semester.

“I’m going to be very happy at Central Michigan,” said Eickholt. “I think it’s a place where I can have a lot of success, and I think that’s the best outcome I could ask for.”