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Faculty Profile: Dr. Mark Russo

Mark Russo1. Why did you decide to study and teach Computer Science?

When I was in grad school studying engineering, I had the good fortune to work with Dan Kowalski. Dan is the brother of Bob Kowalski, and Bob is one of the fathers of Prolog. I guess that means I worked with the uncle of Prolog, maybe? In any case, I was drawn to all computational aspects of the field. First Fortran, then C, and ultimately for my dissertation I developed a Fifth-Generation style of expert system that automatically generated Fortran programs to solve complex mathematical problems on exotic parallel computing hardware. So. Much. Fun. It was all written in Prolog, of course. I discovered that I missed my true calling. Afterwards, I went back to study as much Computer Science as I could. A few years later a friend and professor in Math and Computer Science at Drexel University was leaving for sabbatical. He asked me to teach one of his classes while he was away. I agreed and fell in love with the teaching process. After that semester I sought out any adjunct position that I could manage while holding down a full-time position in industry.

2. What have been your favorite classes that you have taught while at TCNJ?

All my classes are my favorite classes. 😉

3. What is your favorite part about your job?

That moment when a student suddenly “gets” a complex concept.

4. What specific research topic/project are you most excited about this semester?

Open Educational Resources (OER). As I prepare to help TCNJ increase their use of OER, I have been surprised to learn how quickly these resources are being developed and adopted.

5. What was your dream job as a child?

Honestly, I did not have one. I changed my mind many times.

6. What are your favorite places to eat in or around campus?

Arooga’s Grill

7. What is your favorite non-academic book, movie, or tv show? 

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter

8. What advice would you give to first-year students?

Seek help when you are having trouble understanding a topic or completing an assignment. Your professors, the Tutoring Center, and other students in the department are all here to help. There are many resources available to you. Use them.

9. What is your favorite place on campus?

My office, mostly because during the last few years in industry we lost our offices to the “open
office” movement. It’s nice to have one again to work and meet with students.

10. Please share a “fun fact” about you that hasn’t been mentioned already. 

When I was in high school, I had long hair and played guitar in a rock band. And no, you won’t find pictures on the Internet. This was pre-Internet.