Foster Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award for Work with Genetic Programming
June 01, 2017
James Foster, a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the University of Idaho College of Science, has earned a lifetime achievement award from an international academic society for his contributions to evolutionary computing in Europe.
The Society for the Promotion of Evolutionary Computing in Europe and Surroundings (SPECIES) honored Foster at the 2017 EvoStar conference in Amsterdam, which brings together researchers from around the globe who study biology-inspired computation and related topics. Foster has been involved with the conference since 2001, and has chaired it twice.
SPECIES recognized Foster for his work in genetic programming, an area of evolutionary computing that involves using evolutionary principles to generate programs and hardware.
“Here at UI, my lab has used genetic programming to design chips for validating credit card holograms, two stroke engines, stock market portfolios, robot controllers and many other applications,” Foster said.
But Foster’s primary contributions to the field have been on the theoretical side, for example showing that genetic programming produces hardware and software that are more resilient than traditional engineering produces. Foster helped pioneer the field in the early 1990s, with the late John Dickinson, former chair of the UI Department of Computer Science. He has collaborated with researchers across the United States and the world, including in Portugal, Britain and Germany.
Foster is the second American ever to win the award, which includes a Swiss gold watch as a prize.
Foster, who came to UI in 1990, is UI’s principal investigator for the National Science Foundation-funded BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action and is a co-founder (with Holly Wichman) of the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST). His current research is primarily in bioinformatics, developing algorithms and analyzing the ecological structure of microbiomes, such as the bacteria in healthy breast milk, and the bacteria on the skin of a highly toxic newt.
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