College of Engineering News Room
New USF Provost is a Noted Computer Science and Engineering Educator and Researcher
By Brad Stager
The University of South Florida’s standing as a leading research university was boosted by appointing a prominent computer science and engineering researcher and educator as its new provost and executive vice president of academic affairs.
Prior to becoming USF’s provost on March 1, Prasant Mohapatra was a distinguished professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Davis, where he also served as vice chancellor for research. Other leadership positions Mohapatra has held at UC Davis include dean of graduate studies, vice provost of graduate education, associate chancellor, interim vice provost and chief information officer, and chair of the Department of Computer Science.
Reporting to USF President Rhea Law, Mohapatra will serve as the university’s chief academic officer, a job that includes ensuring students are ready for what awaits them after graduation.
“We need to move fast in order to make our steps align to this new world where the needs for the workforce of the future are quite different than what it was in the past,” Mohapatra said in an introductory video on USF’s YouTube channel.
As a researcher, Mohapatra’s work emphasizes data communication, such as wireless networking and mobile computing, topics on which he has co-authored two books. Other research interests are cybersecurity and network analytics. Those interests align with major research clusters at the College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, such as pattern recognition, cybersecurity, smart devices, AI and machine learning.
The development of novel communication technology using LED lighting units for visible light communication and sensing to facilitate high-speed data transfer is an example of projects he has undertaken. He has also researched at the other end of the frequency spectrum to improve millimeter-wave networking capabilities. Mohapatra says his research work will continue.
“Anything new and technologically exciting really attracts me and there are a couple of large projects that I’m engaged in with the U.S. Department of Defense, primarily related to cyber security and artificial intelligence.”
Mohapatra’s research has received funding totaling about $15 million from various government and industry organizations such as the National Science Foundation, U.S. Army Research Labs, Hewlett Packard, Raytheon and Panasonic.
Mohapatra is also active with professional organizations. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He was the editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing publication and has also served on the editorial board of IEEE Transactions on Computers.
Mohapatra moved to the United States for his graduate studies after receiving his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, India. He earned his master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Rhode Island and a doctoral degree in computer engineering from Pennsylvania State University.