Resnik Selected for Prestigious MPower Professorship

Nov 07, 2022

Philip Resnik, a professor of linguistics with a joint appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, has been awarded significant research funding and a new appointment as a MPower Professor.

Supported by the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State, the prestigious professorship recognizes, incentivizes, and fosters collaborations between faculty at the University of Maryland (UMD) in College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). Each professor is awarded $150K over three years to fund groundbreaking research on the most pressing issues of our time.

To be considered for the MPower Professorship, faculty must demonstrate collaboration on strategic research that would be unattainable to achieve by one university alone, and embrace MPower’s mission to collaboratively strengthen and serve the state of Maryland and its citizens.

Resnik brings linguistic knowledge, domain expertise, and machine learning methods together to advance the computational modeling of human language.

“MPower recognizes the fundamental importance of close engagement between technologists, who are focused on expanding what's possible, and clinical experts, who deeply understand what's needed,” he says. “I’m so glad that they’re there to encourage that kind of collaboration.”

One of those collaborations is his project with Katherine E. Goodman, an assistant professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, to address the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that poses a grave threat in U.S. hospitals.

Resnik and Goodman are employing state-of-the-art natural language processing and machine learning techniques to analyze the language in electronic health records and detect pre-admission exposures that might be found in a patient’s clinical notes.

Those notes—showing someone arriving at the hospital from a nursing home, for example—can often yield important information on strong risk factors for carrying antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The team aims to lay the foundations for automated technology that will detect these high-risk patients in a more targeted and cost-effective way.

This project was spurred by one of MPower’s seed grants, which are intended to jumpstart high-impact research in areas that are of critical importance to the state of Maryland and the nation.

Resnik received his first MPower seed grant in 2016 to work with UMB’s Professor of Psychiatry Deanna Kelly developing computational models that can help identify symptoms of people suffering from schizophrenia or depression. That award was followed by $842K award from the National Science Foundation in 2021.

Resnik is one of six professors from UMD and UMB recently selected for the prestigious professorship, now in its second year. The other awardees are developing an enhanced understanding and treatment for cancers and a range of diseases; investigating cutting-edge approaches and new materials to regenerate human tissue; and examining the relationship between agriculture, energy and water to create a safer and sustainable global food supply.

“The six professors selected for this honor are each working across disciplines to address the most complex challenges facing society today, bridging research and scholarship between institutions to foster innovation that will impact citizens in Maryland, across the country and around the world,” says UMD President Darryll J. Pines.

Story by Maria Herd