In Memoriam: Douglass Stott Parker Jr., Professor Emeritus of Computer Science
ouglass Stott Parker Jr., a professor emeritus of computer science at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering who joined the faculty in 1979, died Oct. 4, in Eugene, Oregon. He was 69.
Parker taught undergraduate classes on mathematical modeling and methods as well as graduate courses on data science.
His research interests were in data mining and the management of databases and scientific data. In the early 2000s, Parker started to focus his research on data mining applications for neuroscience. It was during this period that he held important roles in the creation of two major multidisciplinary research centers at UCLA — The Center for Computational Biology and the Center for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics, both of which were funded by the National Institutes of Health and headquartered in the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. He also was integral to the formation of the university-wide Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Bioinformatics.
Parker served as the Computer Science Department’s Vice Chair for Graduate Affairs from 2000 to 2005. During the dot-com crash in early 2000s, the department saw a dramatic increase in applications and graduate enrollment. Parker implemented a series of changes to accommodate more students in the field and help adapt classes for a field undergoing dynamic changes.
After retiring in 2016, Parker helped publish the unfinished literary works by his late father, who was a professor of classics at the University of Texas at Austin with a specialty in formalizing “parageography” — the study and construction of imaginary worlds.
Born on New Year’s Eve in 1952 in New Haven, Connecticut to Haverly Hubert Parker and Douglass Stott Parker Sr., the young Parker discovered his passion for mathematics and language early in life. His favorite childhood book was “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster. The 1961 classic takes protagonist Milo on an adventure to an imaginary land where words and numbers intertwined.
Parker, who went by “Stott,” graduated from McCallum High School in Austin, Texas. In 1974, he graduated cum laude from Princeton University with an A.B. in mathematics. He completed his M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1976 and 1978, respectively. After his doctorate, Parker joined the Universite de Grenoble in France for a postdoctoral fellowship in 1978 before becoming an assistant professor at UCLA a year later.
Outside of teaching and research, Parker loved hummingbirds and vacationing with his son. He also enjoyed strong coffee, hiking, picnics, spending time with his family, walking his dogs and making playful bets with his son and neighbor on sumo tournaments.
Parker is survived by his son, Austin Berg Parker; his sister Alison Parker and her husband Ed Carawan; and his brother, Clarke Parker.