James Hendler

Mentor. Trailblazer. Researcher. Policy Wonk.

Nemertes Research Fellow

Focus Areas: quantum computing, AI, cognitive science, data sharing, technology policy


Professor for 35 years, currently the Tetherless World Chair of Computer, Web and Cognitive Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Chaired over 40 PhD thesis committees and dozens of master’s essay committees. Chosen by Playboy Magazine in 2010 as “one of the 20 most innovative professors in America.” Taught over a thousand university students, plus involved countless high school and college students in my research programs to encourage their paths into higher education and tech. Certified scuba instructor since 1981; have coached over 100 students to enjoy the thrills of diving, especially through advanced courses in night diving.


In 1990, created and served as first program chair for the AI Planning Systems conference (later renamed ICAPS). In 2002, created and served as the program Chair of the International Semantic Web Conference and in 2008 helped create and served as program chair for the first Web Science Conference. First computer scientist to serve on the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science Magazine, 2004-2017. Editor-in-Chief IEEE Intelligent Systems, 2005-2008, and Data Intelligence (MIT Press), 2020-present. In 2016, given the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Distinguished Service Award. Launched an initiative in 2000 to deliver supplies to a group of “forgotten Jews” in Uganda. Currently on the board of The Trinity Alliance focusing on improving the lives of refugee and impoverished communities around Albany, NY.


Over 450 publications related to AI, the Semantic Web, supercomputing, and web research. Listed by Google Scholar as among the 100 most cited researchers in the AI field. Co-author of a 2001 article “The Semantic Web,” now the most cited article ever to appear in Scientific American. 2012 winner of Strata Data Award for work in open government data. 2017 winner of inaugural “Spotlight Award” from the Association of Moving Image Archivists. My work in AI and the Semantic Web is cited in my awards as a fellow of the AAAI, AAAS, ACM, British Computing Society, and IEEE. A bit further afield: chosen as a “Sublime Métèque” by the Quebec Institute ’Pataphysique in 2016, and I have co-authored several papers with noted pataphysicist Andrew Hugill.

Policy Wonk.

Since 1998, have at various times served on advisory boards and committees for the U.S. DoD, DHS, DoE, NASA, and the White House.  Co-chaired the first White House/World Bank conference on open data. Received the US Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service medal in 2002.  IN 2018, the first person with a primary appointment in Computer Science made a Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Public Administration for work in advising government agencies on both public and classified matters (and now co-chair of the membership committee). Since 2018, member of a popular public radio morning show “The WAMC Roundtable” that discusses political issues of the day.


BS from Yale in AI, 1978; MS from Southern Methodist University in Psychology, 1981; MS and PhD in AI from Brown, 1986; Professor in Computer Science at the University of Maryland, 1986-2007 and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 2007-present; Head of RPI Computer Science Department, 2012-2013

bio-pic-Jim Hendler