Dr. Ben Taskar, former associate professor in the department of computer and information science at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, died of an apparent heart attack on November 17, in Seattle, at the age of 36.
Dr. Taskar came to Penn in 2007 and was the Magerman Term Assistant Professor until his promotion in 2012. He was the founding co-director of the Penn Research in Machine Learning (PRIML) Center and held a secondary appointment in the department of statistics at the Wharton School.
He left Penn last year and became the Boeing Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington.
Dr. Taskar was widely recognized and honored for his groundbreaking research in machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision, receiving the Sloan, ONR Young Investigator (Almanac April 27, 2010) and NSF CAREER (Almanac July 12, 2011) awards and was named a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Annenberg Center for Public Policy in 2011.
“He was an inspiring teacher, advisor and mentor beloved by his students and colleagues. With his brilliance, warmth and kindness, Ben left a deep impression on everyone who knew him,” said Dr. Sampath Kannan, chair of the department of computer and information science.
At Penn, his contributions to the CIS department, the GRASP Laboratory, the statistics department and beyond had an enormous impact.
Dr. Taskar received his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD from Stanford University.
Dr. Taskar is survived by his wife, Anat Caspi; daughter, Aviv Taskar; his parents, Mark and Tsilya Taskar and his sister, Alina Beyer.