Robert Heckendorn, Ph.D.
College of Engineering
Campus Locations: Moscow
Computer Science Department
Robert Heckendorn has been a professor at the University of Idaho since 1999. He grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, the son of parents in the newspaper business. In high school he was introduced to Dr. Richard Andree who ran a summer program in computers. He was inspired by Richard's creativity in math and computer science, and dedication to education. Robert graduated in 1979 from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in mathematics, but by then was hooked on computers and really long bike rides.
Robert's next move was to Tucson, Arizona, where he studied computer science at the University of Arizona and received his MS degree. While in Arizona, he learned what a wonderful place the desert is. His next move was to Oregon where he worked for four years on Basic language products in Hewlett-Packard's calculator division. He immediately fell in love with the deep forests and crashing surf of the Northwest. Another opportunity in HP took Robert to Fort Collins, Colorado, where he worked on a Common Lisp compiler and software development environments for C, C++, and COBOL.
In 1995, after 15 years, Robert left HP, but remained in Fort Collins to work in Evolutionary Computation with Darrell Whitley at Colorado State University and to do some private consulting. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1999 specializing in epistatic analysis of optimization problems. In Fort Collins, he learned how great it was to hike and bike the Rockies. From there he moved to Moscow, Idaho, joining the University of Idaho which has a strong research emphasis in evolutionary computation and evolutionary biology.
Robert works with anything that evolves. His research has included bioinformatics work in phylogenetics, new methods of Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling, and the simulation of the geneics of the onset of breast cancer. He is currently working on evolutionary approaches to agent based simulations of international conflict and the cooperative behavior of swarms of thousands of robots.