We are saddened to announce that our dear friend, mentor and colleague Edward Lank, Professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science, passed away on March 21, 2022 at the age of 49.
Professor Lank was born on November 28, 1972 and grew up in Ebenezer, a village northwest of Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island. He received an honours bachelor’s degree in physics in 1994 from the University of Prince Edward Island and a PhD in computer science from Queen’s University in 2001.
After completing graduate studies, Professor Lank worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. In January 2002, he began his academic career as an Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University in the Computer Science Department. While at San Francisco State University, he received a National Science Foundation Career Award, the Foundation’s most prestigious award that recognizes and supports the early career development of scholars destined to become academic leaders.
Professor Lank joined the Cheriton School of Computer Science as an Assistant Professor in June 2006. He was promoted to Associate Professor in July 2011 and to Full Professor in July 2018. With his colleague Michael Terry, Professor Lank co-founded Waterloo HCI, a university-wide consortium of faculty members and students who conduct research in the field of human-computer interaction.
Professor Lank’s primary research interests were in intelligent user interfaces; mobile, multi-touch and free-space gestural interaction; and movement and input modelling in interfaces.
His projects included work in mechanisms for leveraging reject rates to increase the perceived reliability of recognition-based user interfaces. He explored the design of free-space gesture input languages such as motion gestures and mechanisms for treating motion gestures. He and his students explored techniques for predicting target locations in goal-directed movements such as pointing and speed profiles in constrained movements in interfaces.
Professor Lank was interested in all aspects of human-computer interaction. His work also explored persuasive technologies, sustainability, computer-supported cooperative work, usable privacy and security, sketch and diagram recognition, and human-in-the-loop information retrieval.
The consummate graduate advisor, Professor Lank placed the interests of his students foremost by providing guidance and encouragement so they could perform research at their fullest potential. His goal was to mentor students so they become individuals who conduct strong research and prepare papers as independent scholars and scientists.
From 2018 to 2021, Professor Lank held a Cheriton Faculty Fellowship, a prestigious recognition that supports the work of leading faculty at the School of Computer Science. He was also an Inria International Research Chair attached to Équipe LOKI at Inria Lille-Nord Europe in Villeneuve d’Ascq, France. Alongside his many research positions, he also served as Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies from 2011 to 2013 and as Associate Director from 2013 to 2015 at the Cheriton School of Computer Science.
Professor Lank is survived by his beloved wife, Michelle, and his loving daughters, Olivia and Charlotte. He rests at Maison du Funeraille, Odoux, Mouvaux, France. A service will be held on Saturday, March 26, 2022. A cremation will follow the service and a reception will be held at Salon des Orchidées. Arrangements on PEI to be announced later and will be held through MacLean Funeral Home Swan Chapel.
Online condolences may be made at www.macleanfh.com or at https://link.inmemori.com/EtGMzt?utm_medium=native.
In lieu of flowers, Professor Lank’s family requests that donations be made to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation or to the Site federation France AVC.
We extend our deepest sympathies to Professor Lank’s family.
Read recollections from colleagues on the Cheriton School of Computer Science website.