Oscar H. Criner is Professor of Computer Science and Associate Dean of theCollegeofScienceand Technology at Texas Southern University. He received his early education in the public schools ofTexasand graduated fromPhillisWheatleySenior High SchoolinHoustonin 1956. He attendedHowardUniversityinWashingtongraduating in 1960 with at B.S. in mathematics and a minor in physics. He received the Ph.D. degree in applied mathematics from theUniversityofCaliforniaatBerkeleyin 1972.In his early career in California, he was a data analyst for Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, a mathematician for United Research Services in Burlingame (now URS Corp.), where he conducted research on the effects of nuclear weapons, finite amplitude stress waves, surface water waves, and computer models of mass fires. He worked for the U.S. Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory inSan Francisco, where he devised measures for the control of mass fires and constructed computational models in neutron cross-section spectroscopy. He also worked for Sandia Corporation inLivermoreCalifornia, where he worked on the first true supercomputer (the Control Data 6600) computationally studying problems in the vibration of thin shells. He formed a software consulting business and constructed software for survey research, economic data analyses, and small business information systems. Social issues had begun to dominate his thinking and activity and he was invited to join the Westside Community Mental Health Center, Inc. inSan Franciscoas Assistant Director for Operations. The Westside position and his involvement in social issues in the community led to his being invited to join the faculty of the Department of Black Studies atSan FranciscoStateUniversity. His research in economics and the scientific workforce led to his understanding of the barriers that prevent African Americans from entering scientific professions and motivated his decision become active in science education and to teach at a historically black college.
After a search of computer science programs in colleges around the country, Dr. Criner found a perfect match. Texas Southern University, in his hometown, needed a person to head the computer science program. He became the first head of the Department of Computer Science at Texas Southern University in September 1976. He built a student body from 50 in 1976 to over 700 in 1984 when he left the position to become the Founding Dean of College of Science and Technology. He left the Deanship in 1986 to return to work in industry. From 1987 to 1993 he was on leave from the University and served as a consultant on software quality and productivity for large software manufacturers, AT&T Bell Laboratories and Motorola. Dr. Criner teaches computer science, computational modeling and environmental science. His current research interests are web based computing, environmental and ecological systems modeling, computational finance, and the homeland security issues of the petro-chemical transportation infrastructure.