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Alan Hevner, Recently Named Distinguished University Professor, Gives a Talk on Innovative Design in Scientific Research

By Keith Morelli

Alan Hevner

TAMPA (April 12, 2018) -- Few people know innovation like Alan Hevner. The USF Citigroup/Hidden River chair of Distributed Technology and Eminent Scholar delivered a speech earlier this month at the USF Provost's Distinguished University Professor lecture series. The talk touched on a topic that is near and dear to his heart: innovative design in scientific research.

"Innovative design engages," he said. "It gets practitioners together to work toward common goals. Innovation also drives economic growth and improves living conditions throughout the world."

And still, he said, questions persist: What exactly does innovation mean and how does it relate to design, invention, novelty and creativity? How does human creativity and collaboration enable innovation? How is the innovation process defined? And how do we measure innovation success?

Questions are easy, he said. Answers, more difficult.

"The answers to these questions are being stymied by the lack of a clear understanding of what I believe to be the essence of innovation," he said. Simply put, innovation can be defined as a contribution to human knowledge that addresses some need.

"In other words," he said, "a true innovation must advance human knowledge in a form that improves the human condition."

Hevner, a professor in the Muma College of Business's Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department, is no stranger to recognition for his groundbreaking work. He has been:

  • named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, selected by his peers;
  • named a Schoeller Senior Fellow at the Friedrich Alexander Universitat Erlanger-Nurnberg, Germany, from 2014-2017;
  • named a Parnas Fellow at Lero Institute in Ireland;
  • named a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to Design Science Research.

He is widely considered a pioneer whose development of conceptual and methodological innovations has earned him accolades as a leader in the field of design-science research. He also passes his knowledge along from generation to generation. An inspirational teacher, Hevner has mentored 18 doctoral students to completion of their PhDs.

His groundbreaking work often is used in research the world over. With more than 18,000 citations of his papers, including his pioneering 2004 MIS Quarterly article – with more than 10,000 citations alone – Hevner ranks among the most widely cited researchers in the entire field of information systems.

Reviewers of his research have said Hevner's work has changed, and will continue to change, the face of information systems and technology as a research discipline in business and management. Others say his seminal contributions in the field of design research have shaped the information sciences discipline into what it is today, providing a foundation for numerous design-science studies around the world.

"Al is transformational," said Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem. "He truly changes the way research is being conducted."

The Distinguished University Professor program recognizes senior members of the USF System faculty who have distinguished themselves from among their peers both within and outside the university. The title is awarded to three senior faculty each year through a nomination process that includes external peer reviews.

Other professors honored this year are Robert D. Frisina, with the College of Engineering's Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering; and Roger Ariew, with the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Philosophy.