Michael J. Cafarella selected for Sloan Research Fellowship

He has built software systems for information extraction, database integration, and feature engineering and applied these to problems in the social sciences.

Michael Cafarella Enlarge
Prof. Michael Cafarella

Assistant Professor Michael J. Cafarella has been selected for a 2016 Sloan Research Fellowship by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for his work in mining and processing large and distributed datasets.

Prof. Cafarella’s research has advanced the practice and application of big data. In particular, he has built software systems for crucial data management challenges such as information extraction, database integration, and feature engineering.

Prof. Cafarella has applied these systems to a number of problems, especially in the social sciences. He used data from social media streams to accurately predict government statistics, such as unemployment rates, without the overhead of surveys and data gathering that is traditionally employed. More recently, he contributed toward the DeepDive information extraction system and applied it to the problem of illegal sex trafficking; by analyzing online text sources, this effort generated information and tools that can aid law enforcement.

In previous work, he and Doug Cutting developed Hadoop, an open-source software framework for distributed storage and processing of very large data sets on computer clusters. Hadoop is currently employed by many research groups and large companies, including Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, and more than half of the Fortune 50.

“Getting early-career support can be a make-or-break moment for a young scholar,” said Paul L. Joskow, President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “In an increasingly competitive academic environment, it can be difficult to stand out, even when your work is first rate. The Sloan Research Fellowships have become an unmistakable marker of quality among researchers. Fellows represent the best-of-the-best among young scientists.”

Prof. Cafarella received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Washington in 2009 and joined the faculty at Michigan that year. He has published extensively in venues such as SIGMOD, VLDB, and elsewhere. He received an NSF CAREER award in 2011 and was named a Morris Wellman Faculty Development Professor in 2016. He is affiliated with the Software Systems Lab and the Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery & Engineering (MICDE).

About the Sloan Research Fellowship

The Sloan Research Fellowships seek to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise.  These two-year fellowships are awarded yearly to 126 researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field.