Mohamed Mokbel Named Distinguished McKnight University Professor


“It is definitely a big honor. Looking at my colleagues who have previously been named McKnight Professors,” said Mokbel. “I know it is a big recognition and I am honored to be in the same category as them. It is recognition for my whole career, not just a single piece of work, so that makes it even more prestigious.”

Recipients receive a research grant of $120,000 over five years, to be used for
expenditures related to the recipient’s research and scholarly activities. Mokbel will hold the title “Distinguished McKnight University Professor” for as long as he remains employed at the University of Minnesota. 

“I owe a lot of credit to my Ph.D. students,” said Mokbel. “Everything I have done has been made possible by them. No one works alone. I firmly believe that each one of my former and current Ph.D. students owns a part of this honor.”

Mokbel joined the Department of Computer Science & Engineering in 2005 as an assistant professor. He received his B.S. (1996) in computer science from Alexandria University (Egypt) and his Ph.D. (2005) in computer science from Purdue University. Mokbel was recognized as an ACM Distinguished Scientist in 2017 and IEEE Fellow in 2020. He was the recipient of the VLDB 10-Years Best Paper Award in 2016 and the ACM SIGSPATIAL 10-Years Impact Award in 2022.

“Majority of my career has been at the intersection of spatial data and database systems,” said Mokbel. “I have focused on system building for spatial data, whether it is machine learning systems, database systems, or big data systems. My current project is adapting machine learning techniques to support spatial data. This can help with data cleaning and making maps more accurate and robust for traffic data. The goal is always releasing open source systems that everyone can use and benefit from.”

The complete list of 2023 Distinguished McKnight University Professors can be found on the Scholars Walk website.