An informal biographical site for Brian M. Dennis, PhD a.k.a bmdphd. The primary intent of this content is to supplement other circulating professional materials (e.g. resumé, LinkedIn) with more depth and personality.
Me: I’m an African-American dad, husband, brother, son, and technologist based in the northern part of the Commonwealth of Virginia of the United States.
Career: I started messing around with computers in a Maryland high school during the era of the TRS-80, IBM PC, Apple II, and Commodore 64. Then it was off to college at MIT where more formal computing and programming came naturally, leading to a Bachelors in Computer Science.
Not putting a lot of thought into it (bad idea), I headed West to grad school for more Computer Science at UC Berkeley. The research group I joined consisted of folks interested in programming language design and implementation, PLDI, as a foundation for advanced software development environments. Think today’s Visual Studio Code on machines from 30 years ago. I carved out a minor niche in the area of scripting language design for such platforms leading to a successfully completed dissertation (good idea). I also completed a minor in Journalism. Just being part of the Computer Science Division, I also picked up general interests in Systems research (computer architecture, operating systems, networking, databases, distributed systems, etc.).
Before filing my dissertation, I started a tenure track faculty position at Northwestern University. While I fizzled out as a professor, I loved living in the greater Chicago area, and my interests in media and technology were brought together. Working with a colleague in the Medill School of Journalism, I deployed content management system technology into the newsroom that every Journalism masters student spent a couple of quarters working in. A renowned compatriot in English and History allowed me to collaborate in the development of an online essay documenting Daniel Burnham’s The Plan of Chicago
Subsequently, I moved to Northern Virginia taking on a sequence of industry jobs which you can see below, all of which were engaged with computing research in some fashion. Some highlights
Personal: Great experiences and friendships were made playing grass roots Ultimate around the world, but I’ve retired from that. I’m a recovering sports watchaholic, retaining only an addiction to Manchester City football. Otherwise, I spend a lot of time supporting my son and walking around a lot to try and stay fit. I have a very slow hobby learning how to cook basic comfort foods. Over the past few years, I’ve managed to establish a book reading habit and complete 15-30 books a year. The only consistent genre pursued is speculative fiction but a healthy diversity of non-fiction is included. Various forms of electronic dance music make me nod my head and tap my feet.
Decades onward, to this very day, I still mess around with computers for fun. My primary programming language is Python, I’m literate in Go, and taking up Rust. Due to my academic heritage, I have a soft spot for dynamic languages in general and the Lisp family in particular. The one true text editor is GNU Emacs. I’d be happy if it was a Linux world, but to make my desktop life easy I’m heavy into the Apple ecosystem.
In general, I use social media platforms in read-only mode.
Alma Maters (go deeper)
Employers (go deeper)