Yoelle Maarek Honored with Prestigious SIGIR Election

Jul 2, 2013

Yoelle MaarekIt’s not every day you can say one of your own has been elected to the governing body of one of the most esteemed computer science research organizations out there, but that’s just what has happened here at Yahoo Labs. We are extremely pleased to announce that Yoelle Maarek, our Senior Research Director and Head of Haifa Labs, has begun a three-year term this week as the Vice Chair of the ACM SIGIR (Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval) Executive Committee. Yoelle’s election recognizes an impressive body of work in which she began publishing at SIGIR in 1989. Yoelle’s involvement with the organization grew over the years and in the early 2000s, while at IBM research, she organized workshops on XML search with two colleagues, Ricardo Baeza-Yates and David Carmel, who are both at Yahoo Labs today. Maarek served as Area chair (Senior Program Committee member of the conference) for a number of consecutive years, starting in 2005. When she joined Yahoo Labs in 2009, Maarek was delighted to have the opportunity to work more closely with Baeza-Yates, who was already a recognized SIGIR authority. Together they organized a number of tutorials related to Web Search, users, and usage data. Yoelle also served as a SIGIR Program Committee chair in 2012 and follows in the footsteps of Yahoo Labs colleague Mounia Lalmas, who served as SIGIR Vice Chair from 2007-2010. Maarek champions what she believes is a "win-win" solution regarding the fair use of search data in conference submissions. There has been an ongoing debate on proprietary data in submissions that some academics find unfair as they don't have such data available and cannot judge irreproducible results. However, without such data, research would stagnate. Maarek believes industry scientists can provide privacy-preserving datasets for research. Yahoo Labs has been pioneering this direction with successful programs like Webscope. In addition, Yoelle believes companies should allow interns and faculty to come on site to conduct research on internal data (ensuring all privacy guidelines are enforced). It’s part of our broad mission at Yahoo Labs to vigorously support academia (see our Faculty Research and Engagement Program). With this in mind, we strive to ensure the vibrancy of the information retrieval community. Not only does this help us collaborate with some of the brightest minds in the field, but it also serves to foster innovation crucial to the future of the science. We believe strongly in science-driven innovation. And without scientists like Yoelle Maarek on our team, we wouldn’t be able to deliver. Congratulations to Yoelle and the other newly-elected members of the SIGIR Executive Committee!