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Daniel E. Atkins is a Professor in the School of Information and in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Michigan (UM), Ann Arbor. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science and M.S. Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, and the B.S.E.E. from Bucknell University. He began his research and teaching career in the area of high- performance computer architecture, and led or participated in the design and construction of seven experimental machines. He developed high-speed arithmetic algorithms now widely used in modern computers. He did pioneering work in application-specific computer architecture including interdisciplinary collaboration on medical image processing with the Mayo Clinic. Sponsors for this phase of his research were NSF, DARPA, NIH, and Intel. Most of his doctoral students from this era went on to successful faculty careers at major universities.

In 1982 Atkins assumed academic leadership positions as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs and later interim Dean of Engineering at the University of Michigan. As part of a leadership team with James Duderstadt and Charles Vest, he presided over the rapid rejuvenation of the UM College of Engineering. The College, for example, replaced two-thirds of its faculty in six years. Atkins assisted in many aspects of this rejuvenation, but was specifically responsible for establishing one of the first and leading academic distributed computing environments (the CAEN- Computer-Aided Engineering Network), and for shifting the research culture to encompass more multi-disciplinary, team-based projects often including industrial collaboration. The College’s sponsored research volume more than tripled during this five years.

As computer and communication systems merged in the early 1980’s, Atkins shifted his research and teaching focus to the technical and social architecture of distributed knowledge work environments. He was cofounder of an interdisciplinary research group of social and computer science faculty at UM who have been pioneers in the area of computer-supported cooperative work and related topics in human-computer interaction. Atkins has been project director for several large interdisciplinary NSF-sponsored projects to develop principles for the design and evaluation of IT-enabled scientific collaboratories -- “laboratories without walls.” These flagship collaboratory projects (for example also included outreach to middle and high school science education and helped create the conditions for the current cyberinfrastructure/e-science movement. These projects led to the formation of CREW, the Collaboratory for Research on Electronic Work at the UM School of Information ( He has also directed the NSF-sponsored UM Digital Library Initiative that, for example, contributed significantly to the creation of the widely-used JSTOR ( and more recently to the Google-Michigan partnership to digitize 8 million volumes in the UM academic library.

In the early 1990’s Atkins became the founding Dean of the University of Michigan School of Information (, also known as SI. This professional graduate school (M.S. and Ph.D.) is committed to learning, research and societal engagement through an holistic, socio-humanistic-technical approach to “bringing people, information and technology together in more valuable ways.” Atkins secured $20M in support from the Kellogg Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, Microsoft, and Intel, and others to help launch the school and presided over the recruiting of an extraordinary faculty. The UM SI has been the leader in defining and creating a new genre of “information school, or I-School” now emerging at many universities.

Atkins also formed and directed an Alliance for Community Technology (ACT) sponsored by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to support the innovative use of information technology in service of broader participation in civil society. Among other things, ACT has supported the formation of a Community Information Corp ( at UM SI, the creation of a virtual library federation for the U.S. Native American tribal colleges, the acceleration of the adoption on open source software in the non-profit sector, and provided technical assistance to a variety of community technology centers in developing countries. Atkins also serves as a consultant to Kellogg on the innovative use of information and communication technology for enriching education opportunities for at risk youth in the US, and for both rural communities and higher education in southern Africa.

Atkins participates in several strategic activities to better understand and act upon the implications of emergent information technology on the future of knowledge-based institutions and activities. He has recently served as Chair of the National Science Foundation Blue-Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure. The Panel issued a report in February 2003 entitled Revolutionizing Science and Engineering Through Cyberinfrastructure ( ) that recommends a major advanced cyberinfrastructure program with the goal to revolutionize science and engineering research and education. This report now dubbed the “Atkins report” has received international attention and is serving as a blue print for initiatives in the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and research sponsoring agencies in other countries. He also serves regularly on panels of the U.S. National Academies exploring issues such as scholarship in the digital age, the future of scholarly communication, and the impact of information technology on the future of higher education. He is a consultant to the international OECD on similar topics, and to the American Council of Learned Societies on the topic of the impact of cyberinfrastructure on the humanities and social sciences. He is co-author of a recent book entitled Higher Education in the Digital Age: Technology Issues and Strategies for American Colleges and Universities. He serves as an international consultant and invited speaker for industry, foundations, educational institutions, and government including, for example, the NSF, the NIH, Kellogg Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, the Coalition for Networked Information, Internet2, the MIT Libraries, NPOWER, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Atkins is now in the early stages of developing an international consortium to help align investment and collective action among the diverse stakeholders necessary to accelerate the creation and transformative application of cyberinfrastructure for enhancing learning, research, and societal engagement -- and the synergy between them.