Donald Wunsch to receive pioneer award from Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

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On November 4, 2022


Dr. Donald Wunsch will receive the 2023 Computational Intelligence Society Neural Networks Pioneer Award from the IEEE. Photo by Michael Pierce, Missouri S&T.

Dr. Donald Wunsch II, the Mary K. Finley Missouri Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Missouri S&T, will receive the 2023 Computational Intelligence Society Neural Networks Pioneer Award from the IEEE for his fundamental contributions to the neural networks field.

Wunsch is also founding director of the Kummer Institute Center for Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems at Missouri S&T. In naming Wunsch the recipient, the IEEE cited him for his contributions to two types of machine learning – reinforcement and unsupervised learning, also known as clustering, particularly hierarchical and real-time versions. He is the second in the University of Missouri System to receive the award, and the system’s first to be honored in the category of neural networks.  

Wunsch will receive the award in June 2023 at the International Joint Conference on Neural Networks in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

“Neural networks have transformed transportation, energy, medicine and many other topics,” Wunsch says. “This technology has already improved health, lowered costs, and created new products and services. But we’ve barely begun.”

Wunsch’s advice to those new to research is to embrace risk if the reward has the potential to be significant.

“That’s what the Pioneer Award is all about, and more importantly, it’s what research is all about,” he says. “I’m very grateful to the trailblazers whose success created a foundation we’re building on to this day.”

Wunsch’s research has focused on adaptive resonance and reinforcement learning architectures; hardware and applications; and various multidisciplinary collaborations. He has more than 500 publications to his credit, including 12 books.

Before joining S&T in 1999, from 1984 to 1993, Wunsch worked for Boeing, culminating in his role as senior principal scientist. In 1993 he joined Texas Tech University as assistant professor; he was promoted to associate professor at Texas Tech in 1998. He joined the electrical and computer engineering department at S&T in 1999, and has courtesy appointments in system engineering, computer science, business administration, and mathematics and statistics. In 2005, Wunsch served as president of the International Neural Networks Society (INNS), which bestowed upon him its Gabor Award in 2015 and its Ada Lovelace Award in 2019. He is a Fellow of the INNS and IEEE. He also was twice the Charles Hedlund Distinguished Visiting Professor at the American University in Cairo. Wunsch has mentored 23 Ph.D. recipients in computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering and systems engineering. He served in 2021 and 2022 as a National Science Foundation Program Director.

About Missouri University of Science and Technology

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System and located in Rolla, Missouri, Missouri S&T offers 101 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top 10 universities for return on investment, according to Business Insider. S&T also is home to the Kummer Institute, made possible by a $300 million gift from Fred and June Kummer. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit

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