Peter Frazier elected inaugural Eleanor and Howard Morgan Professor

The Cornell Board of Trustees has elected Peter Frazier, Associate Professor with indefinite tenure in the School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, the inaugural Eleanor and Howard Morgan Professor, effective July 1, 2021.

Frazier joins Mark Lewis, David Shmoys, Jim Dai, Shane Henderson, Adrian Lewis, James Renegar, David Ruppert, and Brenda Dietrich as chaired professors in ORIE. Lewis is the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Engineering; Shmoys is the Laibe/Acheson Professor of Business Management and Leadership Studies; Dai is the Leon C. Welch Professor in Engineering; and Henderson is the Charles W. Lake, Jr. Professor in Productivity. Lewis is the Samuel B. Eckert Professor of Engineering; Renegar is the Class of 1912 Professor of Engineering; Ruppert the Andrew Schultz Jr. Professor of Engineering; and Dietrich is the Arthur and Helen Geoffrion Professor of Practice. Being named a chaired professor is the highest academic honor Cornell bestows.

Frazier’s chaired professorship is named for Eleanor and Howard Morgan Ph.D. ’68. Howard Morgan is the chairman of B Capital Group, a venture capital firm specializing in startups and growth-stage investments in a number of industries. He arrived at Cornell in 1965 as a doctoral student in operations research but found himself equally interested in the new Department of Computer Science that had formed that year. He minored in computer science and quickly began to see the potential for applying that knowledge to operations research and other disciplines.

“Eleanor and I are delighted to have Peter Frazier appointed as the Inaugural Eleanor and Howard Morgan Professor of ORIE,” Howard Morgan said. “His important work on the decision processes around Covid, including the testing plans, and the benefits of going in person in the fall have been properly acknowledged as crucial to Cornell’s successful navigation through this pandemic. We are sure he’ll have a lot of impact in other areas in the coming years.”

After obtaining his Ph.D., Morgan joined the faculty in both Cornell’s Department of Operations Research and the Department of Computer Science and then eventually found himself teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. It was during his time as a professor he began researching personal uses for computers. His work with user interfaces and computer networks led to his early involvement in ARPAnet, the precursor for the internet. Before retiring from First Round Capital in 2017, the firm he co-founded, he was one of the first investors in the ride-sharing service, Uber, Blue Apron, the popular meal-kit-delivery service, and Roblox, the ultimate virtual universe that allows its users to create and share experiences with friends.

Frazier received a B.S. in physics and engineering/applied science from the California Institute of Technology in 2000, after which he spent several years in industry as a software engineer, working for two different start-up companies and for the Teradata division of NCR. In 2005, he entered graduate school in the Department of Operations Research & Financial Engineering at Princeton University and received an M.A. in 2007 and a Ph.D. in 2009. He joined the faculty at Cornell in 2009 as an Assistant Professor in the School of Operations Research & Information Engineering.

His research, in Bayesian Optimization, combines operations research and machine learning to more quickly solve challenging optimization problems focusing on applications in e-commerce, materials science, and medicine. He was instrumental in helping Cornell through COVID-19 modeling, which allowed the campus to reopen safely in the fall 2020 semester.

Professor Frazier is the recipient of a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and a Young Investigator Award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He splits his time between Cornell and Uber, where he is a staff data scientist. At Uber, he managed UberPOOL’s data science team while on leave from Cornell from 2015-17 and now helps to design Uber’s pricing systems.

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