An experienced musician, computer scientist and researcher, Dr. Kelland Thomas has served as dean of the College of Arts and Letters since 2016 and has introduced an ambitious five-year plan for growing this cultural and astute unit of Stevens.
Thomas came to Stevens from the University of Arizona’s School of Information, where he served as associate director; director of the Creative Computing Lab; and interim director of the science, technology and arts department.
Thomas’ interdisciplinary research and scholarship include computational creativity, artificial intelligence, creative coding and generative music composition. His DARPA-funded research, MUSICA (MUSical Improvising Collaborative Agent), seeks to facilitate the interactive creation of jazz music by musicians and artificial intelligence working together. His research also focuses on interactive virtual reality environments for education and research applications. Thomas is co-investigator in a research award to create a Virtual Harlem that would provide an immersive digital experience of Harlem in the 1920s during the height of the Jazz Age.
An active performing and recording artist, Thomas has premiered more than 40 new solo and chamber works for saxophone. Since his debut with the Houston Symphony in 1993, he has performed as a soloist and with ensembles throughout the U.S. and in Mexico, Europe and Asia. He has played with such luminaries as Rufus Reid, Jimmy Cobb, Jimmy Heath, the Manhattan Transfer, David “Fathead” Newman, Diane Schuur and alt-rock band Spoon.
Thomas holds a doctoral degree in saxophone performance and a master’s degree in music theory from the University of Michigan, as well as a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Arizona.