ILR: Meet the Instructor: Mary Lou Soffa

Ken Marich

The Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR) is proud to introduce Mary Lou Soffa as a member of the ILR faculty. Mary Lou was born in Pittsburgh, and grew up in Pittsburgh and Cambridge, Mass., areas. She attended the University of Pittsburgh for a B.S. in mathematics, Ohio State University for her M.S. degree in mathematics, and her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in computer science (1977). For the next 28 years Mary Lou taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in many aspects of computer science. From 1977 to 2004 she was a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Pittsburgh and served as the Dean of Graduate Studies for five years. Mary Lou was honored with the Owen R. Cheatham Professorship in the Computer Science Department at the University of Virginia where she served as professor from 2004 to 2023 and Department Chair from 2004 to 2012. Dr. Soffa’s research interests include deep neural networks, cloud computing, warehouse scale computers, software systems for multi-core architectures, optimizing compilers, software testing, and program analysis. During her academic and research career, she has received many honors, published over 175 scientific papers, and directed 32 PhD students to completion, half of whom were women.

Early in the 1960s Mary Lou met Bill Soffa in a drug store where she worked part time. They were both undergraduate students, she at the University of Pittsburgh and Bill at Carnegie Tech. They were married in 1962. Bill Soffa, PhD in Materials Science, is also on the ILR faculty. Mary Lou retired from her academic career in 2023, and she and Bill moved to SaddleBrooke.

In her spare time, she enjoys reading, water aerobics, bridge, and is learning Mah Jongg. One of her ongoing activities is mentoring and guiding women and minorities in computer science, an area in which Mary Lou received numerous awards.

Mary Lou will be teaching an ILR course titled “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence,” both in this summer and in the fall sessions. Watch the SaddleBrooke newspapers and the ILR website for registration details.