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McPhee Earns Faculty Distinguished Research Award

Man with short white hair and glasses smiles into lens.
Allison Friedly
Publication date: 
March 25, 2021

Professor of Computer Science Nic McPhee has earned the 2020–21 University of Minnesota Morris Faculty Distinguished Research Award. The award recognizes sustained research of a Morris faculty member over the course of a career.

One colleague praised McPhee's reputation in his field, but also hinted at why his effectiveness as a researcher and educator in a liberal arts setting like UMN Morris has been so impactful: "Although Nic McPhee is one of the truly great and respected researchers in our community, he has remained a humble, curious, and enthusiastic person through and through."

Education and Expertise

McPhee holds a PhD and MS from the University of Texas and a BA from Reed College. His expertise includes his groundbreaking research into genetic programming, software design and development, and artificial intelligence. He has an international reputation as one of the pioneers of evolutionary computation and has made several milestone contributions that provided solid theoretical foundations for genetic programming.

McPhee was awarded the University of Minnesota Morris Alumni Association Teaching Award in 2013 for his influential style of teaching and mentoring students and for playing a vital role in shaping the UMN Morris computer science program.

McPhee's impressive body of work includes contributions to five best paper awards at international conferences, plus five more nominations for best paper, and the co-authorship of A Field Guide to Genetic Programming, an introductory text that is "one of the most read and cited books in the field" (Affenzeller). McPhee has collaborated with many students over the years on his research, including by supervising more than 40 Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and Morris Academic Partners (MAP) grants and publishing conference papers with student co-authors, several of which have received best paper awards or nominations. McPhee's role on the board of the Springer journal Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machine and his co-editing of its special 20th anniversary issue is yet another measure of how highly he is held in esteem by his colleagues.

About the Award

The University of Minnesota Faculty Distinguished Research Award was established in 2000. The award recognizes sustained research and/or artistic productivity of a Morris faculty member over the course of a career. Learn more.