Tribute to Dr. Tao Li, Eminent Scholar Chair Professor and Graduate Program Director

Dear President Rosenberg, Provost Furton, Vice President Gil, Vice Provost Newman, Dean Volakis, Faculty, Staff, and Students,
It is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of Professor Tao Li, a truly brilliant computer science researcher, extraordinary teacher, vibrant mentor, caring colleague and beloved friend to all of us in the School of Computing and Information Sciences, The College of Engineering and Computing, and throughout the University.

Dr. Tao Li joined us at FIU in 2004, after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. He quickly established himself as a superstar, receiving the NSF career award in 2006 and multiple IBM faculty research awards in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2017. In 2009 he received FIU’s Excellence in Research and Creativity’s Award. He was back in the spotlight again in 2010 when he received the IBM Scalable Data Analytics Innovation Award. More importantly to Professor Tao, he received the Inaugural Graduate Student Mentorship Award from the College of Engineering and Computing in 2011, recognizing his superb mentoring skills.

He was on the Editorial Board of ACM Transactions on Knowledge Discovery from Data (ACM TKDD), the IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering (IEEE TKDE), and Knowledge and Information Systems Journal (KAIS). He was a prolific data mining researcher in two key topic areas on learning from data—how to efficiently discover useful patterns and how to effectively retrieve information. Combine data mining and machine learning by studying both the algorithmic and application issues. He was successful in developing new, scalable to handle very large databases. As a result, he has impacted applications and implementation of algorithms in a variety of important areas in bioinformatics, text mining, music information retrieval and event mining for computer system management.

In recognition of his achievements, Tao was recently elevated to Eminent Scholar Chair Professor.

Professor Tao Li significantly impacted the lives of all of those around him. Always, the mentor and professional colleague, Tao encouraged all of us at one point or another and inspired many of us when we felt overwhelmed by our research or responsibilities. Tao was a leader. He led the way for his students to find their own paths to greatness and encouraged all of them to constantly seek excellence.

His life has been a testament to all of us, and will forever set the example for us, encouraging us to dream big, to accomplish great things, and to forever take care of one another. Although his life has been cut short, his legacy will endure, carried forward by those he impacted most—his former students, current students, colleagues, and family. We shall forever remember Professor Tao Li for all that he has given us through his inspiring example.

In addition to his parents, Mr. Zongjin Wei and Mrs. Zongci Li, he is survived by a brother, Bo Wei and his wife Jing Tong.

Visitation service will be held on Saturday, December 16, 2017, at 2 pm 2017 at Caballero Rivero Woodlawn Home, 8200 Bird Rd, Miami, FL 33155, followed by a memorial service at 3:30 pm.

In lieu of flowers, his colleague and dear friend Mr. Carlos Cabrera will be accepting donations to assist the family, which has flown in from China, with funeral expenses. Please drop off any contributions at the School of Computing and Information Science, ECS 319, to the care of Mr. Cabrera.

FIU has set up a scholarship fund in Dr. Li’s honor.  If you are interested in contributing, please visit Dr. Tao Li Memorial Scholarship Fund ).

We ask that your thoughts and prayers be with the family at this time.

Ram Iyengar

Viewing and Memorial Service will be held on:

Date: Saturday, December 16, 2017
Time: 2 pm (Viewing); and 3:30 pm (Memorial Service)
Location: Caballero Rivero Woodlawn
Address: 8200 SW 40th Street (Bird Rd), Miami, FL 33155


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