Dr. McCalla is among the founders and the world’s top researchers in the areas of AI in Education (AIED) and User Modeling and Personalization (UMAP). His papers introducing planning techniques in intelligent tutoring systems, granularity-based diagnosis in user modeling, expertise finding in iHelp, the ecological approach and open learner modeling have been highly influential and widely cited. Six of his papers have won best paper awards at top conferences.
Dr. McCalla’s impact on his students, mentees and young researchers from around the world has been profound. He has supervised or co-supervised 15 Ph.D. students and 32 M.Sc. students. His students have won best student paper awards; many of his PhD students are now faculty in Canada, Norway, China, and New Zealand, and his MSc students work for major IT companies. He was the recipient of the University of Saskatchewan’s student-nominated Distinguished Graduate Supervisor Award in 2010.
Dr. McCalla is among the pioneers of Canadian AI research and served as a President of the executive committee of the Canadian Society for Computational Studies of Intelligence/Société Canadienne pour l’étude de l’intelligence par ordinateur (the predecessor to CAIAC). He co-founded (with Nick Cercone) the Computational Intelligence Journal. He took leadership in the broader context of the Canadian Computer Science community as President of the Canadian Association for Computer
Science / Association informatique canadienne (CACS/AIC), the Canadian academic computer science organization, staying on as immediate Past-President until 2015, when CACS/AIC transitioned into CS-Can|Info-Can.
Dr. McCalla is a recognized leader in both the AIED and the UMAP international research communities. He served as program chair of major conferences such as AIED, UMAP, and ITS (Intelligent Tutoring Systems); as editorial board member for top journals such as IJAIED and UMUAI and eight other international journals; as President of the AIED Society; and member of the conference program committees of International conferences, such as AIED, UMAP, and ITS since their inception. At the 2021 AIED conference, Dr. McCalla was one of the finalists for the recently initiated AIED Lifetime Achievement award.
Dr. McCalla continues his leadership during his retirement; having just completed a massive amount of work as a lead co-editor of a special issue (Festschrift) in memory of our late colleague Jim Greer in the IJAIED journal, which attracted over 30 submissions from some of the leaders in the field and resulted in two volumes, with 24 accepted papers and over 700 pages, the largest special issue in the 30-years history of the journal. This significant effort brought the AIED community together in a noble endeavor to honour the memory of an influential scholar, colleague and friend.