Welcome Emma Hart

Welcome Emma Hart

The New Year welcomes Emma Hart to the helm of Evolutionary Computation. She takes over the role of Editor-in-Chief from Hans-Georg Beyer (who had assumed the role himself in 2010). Professor Hart is the Director of the Centre for Algorithms, Visualisation and Evolving Systems at Edinburgh Napier University and her research is focused on biologically inspired computing. Professor Hart answered a few questions for us about her work with the journal and her hopes for its future.

You’ve published a number of articles in Evolutionary Computation (and various other journals) over the years. How did you move from contributor to editor?

I think it has helped to take as many opportunities as possible to be actively involved in the EC community—this has enabled me to get to know a lot of people across the world. I’ve moved gradually from chairing workshops in smaller conferences to more prominent roles such as Track Chair at GECCO (Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference), Technical Chair at CEC (IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation), and General Chair of PPSN (International Conference on Parallel Problem Solving from Nature) in 2016. I also serve on the SIGEVO (ACM Special Interest Group on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation) board and edit the SIGEVO newsletter, which has helped raise my profile. Of course, acting as an Associate Editor of Evolutionary Computation for several years has been incredibly useful in getting a better understanding of how the journal works!

What’s your history with/interest in the content covered by EC?

Actually, I started my academic life as chemist. During my final year of undergraduate study, I undertook a research project that involved writing a computer program to model gas solubility in blood. This was my first real experience of using computing in science and I enjoyed it much more than mixing chemicals in labs! I went on to the University of Edinburgh to do a postgraduate course in Artificial Intelligence, and by chance, took a course in Evolutionary Computing taught by Prof. Peter Ross. The idea of combining computing with concepts from physical and biological sciences really appealed to me. A Master’s dissertation led on to a PhD and then a permanent academic post, and I’ve never looked back! I work in a number of bio-inspired areas, particularly immune-inspired computing and evolutionary algorithms, and still love the opportunities it gives to continually learn and apply new ideas.

What are your hopes for the journal?

To make it the leading journal in the field! I hope to build on the excellent work of the previous editor Hans-Georg Beyer, which improved the journal’s impact factor to its current standing of 3.600 to increase this even further. I’d like to expand the readership by raising the profile of the journal in other fields that have connections to EC (and other nature-inspired algorithms), for example, encouraging interdisciplinary articles that integrate EC with other approaches. I‘d also like to encourage more articles that reflect uses of EC in real-world applications. I hope to see Evolutionary Computation pushing boundaries in reproducible and open science, encouraging publication of code and data alongside papers, which I believe will help increase its reputation.

Any favorite articles from Evolutionary Computation?

I have to mention two articles from Stephanie Forrest’s early work in Artificial Immune Systems that really inspired my own work in the field. Stephanie was one of the first pioneers in this field, and it was after reading her work that I decided to do a PhD in this area. I wouldn’t be taking on the EiC role today if it hadn’t been for these papers!

You can read both of these articles from Stephanie Forrest free for 30 days.

Using Genetic Algorithms to Explore Pattern Recognition in the Immune System

Stephanie Forrest, Brenda Javornik, Robert E. Smith, Alan S. Perelson

Evolutionary Computation 1:3 (Fall 1993)

Architecture for an Artificial Immune System

Steven A. Hofmeyr, Stephanie Forrest

Evolutionary Computation 8:4 (Winter 2000)