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Gene Golovchinsky, 1965 2013

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The image Gene Golovchinsky used on Twitter.

Gene Golovchinsky, senior research scientist at FX Palo Alto Laboratory (FXPAL), passed away last week at the age of 48.

Credit: Gene Golovchinsky

Gene Golovchinsky, senior research scientist at FX Palo Alto Laboratory, Inc., a multimedia research laboratory established by Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd., succumbed to cancer on August 15, the day after his 48th birthday.

Born in Moscow, Golovchinsky and his family emigrated to the United States when he was nine, settling in the Los Angeles area. He earned his B.S. in Electrical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and then went to work for Kaiser Electronics, UCLA, and IBM. He later went to graduate school at the University of Toronto, which included a stint as a visiting scientist at the German National Computer Science Research Institute in Darmstadt, Germany, where he "helped develop a collaborative drawing tool and an automated diagram layout program."

Golovchinsky received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering in 1996, and went to work for FXPAL in Palo Alto, CA. According to his FXPAL Blog, he was "Interested in information seeking, dynamic hypertext, collaborative search, e-books, freeform digital ink annotation, human-computer interaction, photography, wine, and a whole bunch of other stuff."

As group leader of FXPAL’s Usable Smart Environments group, Golavchinsky oversaw "a user-centered approach to identifying and understanding pain points related to workplace activities," and used such analyses "as inspiration for technical innovation, expressed as prototype systems that we deploy and evaluate," which include Distributed Interactive Conference Environment (DICE), a task-oriented interface and infrastructure for controlling meeting spaces, and ReBoard, a whiteboard capture and retrieval tool "that supports people’s episodic memory of whiteboard activity." At the time of his death, the group was investigating "a range of tools for improving communication in the workplace through fostering awareness of co-workers’ activities," according to his FXPAL bio page.

He also was interested in Human-Computer Information Retrieval, and had "designed, implemented and evaluated a variety of interfaces for browsing and exploring document collections," and was working with colleague Jeremy Pickens on Collaborative Exploratory Search.

In addition to being one of the organizers of the 2nd International Workshop on Collaboratie Information Seeking (held during the 2010 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work/CSCW), and the Theme Editor for Information Discovery for the Journal of Digital Information (JODI), Golovchinsky was a member of the Web board of Communications of the ACM.

In addition to his work, Golovchinsky was an avid photographer, a family genealogist, and a member of a model train club. He loved playing board and card games with his family and friends.

He is survived by his wife Jill and son Theo; his parents, Vladimir and Anna Golovchinsky of Santa Monica, CA; his brother, Konstantin Golovchinsky of Los Angeles, and his mother-in-law, Ruth Berman of Washington DC.


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