AIS LEO Awards

About the Award

Established in 1999, this award, which is named for the world’s first business application of computing (The Lyons Electronic Office), recognizes truly outstanding individuals in the field of information systems. All recipients of the LEO Award are outstanding scholars who have made a global impact on the field of information systems

Established in 1999 by the AIS Council and the ICIS Executive Committee, the LEO Award is a singular honor to recognize seminal work by the award recipient.

As the title of the award implies, the contributions of award recipients will have been sustained throughout their careers. They will be truly outstanding scholars who have made exceptional global contributions in the field of information systems. In addition, they will be regarded as a preeminent representative of their national or regional information systems community.

LEO Award recipients are expected to be a role model and an inspiration to colleagues and students within the information systems field. In addition, they should be capable of garnering the respect of individuals from outside the field, because their contributions will have had an impact in fields other than information systems. LEO Award recipients are highly esteemed for their exemplary professional and personal integrity.

Learn More about the LEO Winners!

Cynthia Beath

Before embarking on her academic career, Cynthia worked in private industry in several information systems development and consulting positions. 

Currently she is conducting research on how organizations design themselves for the digital era and how they get value from artificial intelligence, in conjunction with colleagues at the Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) at MIT’s Sloan School. In 2019, she published Designed for Digital: How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success, with Jeanne Ross and Martin Mocker. 

Recently she has been working to improve the diversity of the editorial boards of the field’s top journals and to find ways to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 lockdown on researchers with mushrooming householder responsibilities. 

Her research has been published in leading information systems research journals, and she has served as senior editor for Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly and MISQ Executive. An active advocate for her professional community, she organized the Women’s Breakfast at ICIS several times, created the field’s first junior faculty consortium, and helped found MISQ Executive. 

She has served two terms on the AIS Council, as VP of Publications and as VP of Conferences. She is a founding member of the AIS Women’s Network and serves on its advisory board. She is an AIS Fellow.

Varun Grover

Varun Grover is the Glass Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor at the Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas.  Prior to this he was the Lee (Duke Energy) Distinguished Professor of IS at Clemson University.   He has also been affiliated through courses, workshops, panels, and talks with universities in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, India, Denmark, China, and Australia and has given many keynote addresses at various forums around the world.

Grover’s research over the past 31 years has largely examined how information systems foster value by impacting individuals, transforming processes, and changing competitive dynamics. His current work focuses on the tenets of digitalization and its profound effect on individuals, organizations, and society. He has over 250 publications in major refereed journals, with over 60 in MISQ, ISR, JMIS and JAIS. At least ten articles have ranked him among the top four researchers globally based on publications in top IS journals, as well as citation impact. Varun has an h-index of 93 and around 41,000 citations in Google Scholar (as of 2020). Thompson Reuters recognized him as one of 100 Highly Cited Scholars globally in all Business disciplines.

Grover has held major editorial positions in all the top IS journals, including Senior Editor for MIS Quarterly (2-terms) and the Journal of the AIS (2-terms).  He currently serves as Senior Editor for MISQ Executive, Editor of JAIS Section on Path Breaking Research.  He has edited 6 special issues of MISQ, JMIS, MISQE and Database, and 3 books on IT and process change.  He has also been involved in numerous AIS leadership positions including ICIS and AMCIS roles like Conference Co-Chair (proposed), Program Co-Chair, Track Chair, Doctoral Consortium Chair, Junior Faculty Camp Co-Chair, as well as organizer of numerous workshops.  Grover has had the privilege of being extensively engaged with PhD students through building doctoral programs at USC and Clemson, chairing/co-chairing over 45 dissertations, participating in numerous doctoral consortia as keynote speaker or faculty mentor and co-chairing the doctoral consortium multiple times. He has written over 20 advice columns promoting PhD student success. In 2011, he was recognized for lifelong service to AIS.  

Grover’s research, teaching and service have resulted in numerous awards, including the top University-wide awards from USC, Clemson, University of Arkansas, and best paper awards from AIS, Academy of Management, DSI, the OR Society, Anbar, PriceWaterhouse.  In 2010, he was designated as a Fellow of AIS.  

Elena Karahanna

Elena Karahanna is Distinguished Research Professor and the C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry Distinguished Chair in Business Administration in the MIS Department, Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. She was named a Fellow of the Association for Information Systems for outstanding contributions in research, teaching and service to the Information Systems discipline. She received the AIS Sandra Slaughter Service Award for her service contributions to the profession and was named a University of Georgia Distinguished Research Professor for her research achievements. 

Karahanna’s research for over 25 years has focused on the impact of information systems on how individuals work, interact, communicate, coordinate, and decide. She has published in leading scholarly journals, including Information Systems Research, Management Science, MIS Quarterly, Academy of Management Review, and Organization Science and is highly cited with over 30,000 citations as per Google Scholar. 

Karahanna has served as senior editor at the MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, and the Journal of the Association for Information Systems (a cumulative total of 11 years as senior editor across the three journals), and serves or has served as associate editor at Information Systems Research, Management Science, MIS Quarterly, and Journal of the Association for Information Systems, among others. 

Over the years, she has served in many conference leadership roles, including twice as Program Co-chair for the International Conference on Information Systems, as Doctoral Consortium Co-chair for the Americas Conference on Information Systems, twice as Conference Co-chair for the Mediterranean Conference on Information Systems, as keynote speaker for conferences, and as mentor and keynote speaker for doctoral/junior faculty/mid-career faculty consortia, among others. Additionally, she co-founded the Senior Scholars Consortium, the Doctoral Student Corner, and SIGLead. 

Karahanna has received several teaching excellence awards and has been an active mentor to doctoral students, chairing 15 dissertations and serving as committee member on another 28.

Prior to joining the University of Georgia, she served on the faculty of the University of Cyprus and Florida State University. She has also held visiting appointments at universities in Australia, Italy, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Jae Kyu Lee

Jae Kyu Lee, Ph.D. is the Distinguished Professor of School of Management at Xi’an Jiaotong University and Professor Emeritus of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). His research mainly focused on the creation of Bright Internet for preventive cybersecurity, improving relevance of research from Axiomatic Theories, and development of AI for electronic commerce and managerial decision support.

He has been professor and HHI Chair Professor at KAIST from 1985 to 2016 since he received his Ph.D. in Information and Operations Management from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He served as the Dean of College of Business and supervised around 30 doctoral students, who are now professors in major universities in South Korea.

He is a fellow and was the President (2015-6) of the Association for Information Systems, and co-chaired the International Conference on Information Systems in 2017. He was the founder of Principles for the Bright Internet and established the Bright Internet Research Center at KAIST and Xi’an Jiaotong University. He also established the Bright Internet Global Summit since ICIS 2017 in Seoul, and organized the Bright Internet Project Consortium in 2019 as a combined effort of academia-industry partnership (

He was a charter member of the Pacific Asia Conference on Information Systems (PACIS), and served as conference chair. He was the founding editor-in-chief of the journal, Electronic Commerce Research and Applications (Elsevier), and was the founding chair of the International Conference on Electronic Commerce. In Korea, he served as president of academic societies – Korea Society of Management Information Systems (KSMIS) and Korea Society of Intelligent Information Systems. 

He received best paper awards ten times from major conferences, and received a national decoration from the Korean government for his contributions to the development of the IT industry. He published many papers in journals such as MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, Management Science, Decision Support Systems, Communications of ACM, Expert System with Applications, and many others. He presented many keynote speeches and proceeding papers at major international conferences such as ICIS, PACIS, and ICEC.  

  • Ritu Agarwal

Ritu Agarwal is Distinguished University Professor, Interim Dean, and the Robert H. Smith Dean’s Chair of Information Systems at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park.  She is also the Founding Director of the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) at the Smith School.  Dr. Agarwal has published over 100 articles in journals such as Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly, Management Science, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Health Affairs.  Her research is focused on the digital transformation of healthcare, health analytics, and artificial intelligence 
applications in health. 

Professor Agarwal currently serves on the Federal Advisory Council established by the US Department of Health and Human Services for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the NIH.  She has testified before the National Committee on Health and Vital Statistics and the US Department of Health.  Her research has been sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Society for Information Management, US Department of Labor, NSF, and DARPA, and a number of private corporations.  Dr. Agarwal’s research has been featured in major media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and elsewhere. In 2010 Professor Agarwal launched the Annual Conference on Health IT and Analytics (CHITA).  This conference, now in its 10th year, is a leading research forum at the intersection of technology, analytics, and health. Professor Agarwal served a 6-year term as the Editor-in-Chief of Information Systems Research.  She has held elected office in the leading professional organizations, including serving on the board for the Institute of Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) and a Vice President in the Association for Information Systems (AIS). 

She was the NSF ADVANCE Professor for 2012-2013 for the Smith School.  In 2011 she became a Fellow of the Association for Information Systems, and also received the University of Maryland Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award.  In 2013 she received the title of Distinguished Fellow from the Information Systems Society of INFORMS.  In 2017 she was appointed as Distinguished University Professor; the highest academic title at the University of Maryland.  

  • Michael D. Myers

Michael D. Myers is Professor of Information Systems at the  University of Auckland Business School, Auckland, New Zealand. His research interests are in the areas of qualitative research methods in information systems, digital transformation, knowledge management, and the social and organizational aspects of information technology.

Michael has published more than 25 journal articles in the AIS basket of eight. He won the Best Paper award (with Heinz Klein) for the most outstanding paper published in MIS Quarterly in 1999. This paper has been cited over 6000 times and is one of the top ten most cited papers in MISQ. He is listed on the MISQ website as one of the most prolific authors in MIS Quarterly. He wrote Qualitative Research in Business & Management published by Sage Publications in 2019 (3rd edition). The structure of the book follows his AIS website on Qualitative Research on Information Systems, the first version of which he developed back 1997.

Michael served as President of AIS in 2006-2007. One of his contributions was to facilitate a strategic planning process for AIS Council, enabling the future development of AIS.  He was Chair of the International Federation of Information Processing (IFIP) Working Group 8.2 from 2006-2008 and was subsequently awarded the IFIP Silver Core. He also served as a Senior Editor of MIS Quarterly from 2001-2005 and as a Senior Editor of Information Systems Research from 2008-2010.

He currently serves as Senior Editor of European Journal of Information Systems and Information &  Organization. Michael has been a supporter of the Pacific Asia Conference on Information Systems for more than two decades. He has been Co-Chair of PACIS three times (New Zealand, Vietnam and Japan), Program Co-Chair, Track Chair, and a regular faculty advisor at the PACIS Doctoral Consortium. He was Co-Chair of the International Conference on Information Systems in Auckland in 2014. Michael is a Fellow of AIS.

  • Arun Rai

Arun Rai is Regents’ Professor of the University Systems of Georgia, holds the Robinson Chair, and is Director of the Center for Digital Innovation at the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. He has held visiting appointments at universities in Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, and Slovenia. He is a  Fellow of the Association for Information Systems and a  Distinguished Fellow of the INFORMS Information Systems Society. 

Arun’s research for over 30 years has focused on the development and deployment of information systems to drive innovation and create value. His research has contributed to understanding the digital transformation of organizations and supply chains; governance of IT investments and platform ecosystems; and deployment of digital innovations at scale to empower individuals and address thorny societal problems including poverty, health disparities, infant mortality, and digital inequality. 

His research has involved close engagement with organizations across sectors (e.g., Apollo Hospitals, China Mobile, Daimler-Chrysler, Emory Healthcare, Gartner, Georgia-Pacific, Grady Hospital, IBM, Intel, SAP, SunTrust, UPS), and has been sponsored by  government agencies, corporations and thought leadership forums. His work has been published extensively in premier journals in IS and other disciplines, has received several best paper awards, and has been extensively cited across disciplines. Arun has played leadership roles in developing research programs and curricula related to digital innovation, supply chain management, analytics, and artificial intelligence.

He has chaired 30 Ph.D. dissertations and served on the committee for over another thirty. Several of his former Ph.D. students are chaired professors and hold leadership positions at their institutions and the profession. He is serving as Editor-in-Chief of the MIS Quarterly, and has served as Senior Editor for MIS Quarterly and Information Systems Research; Panelist for the National Science Foundation; Track Co-Chair for major conferences; keynote speaker for AIS conferences; and chair, mentor and keynote speaker for doctoral/junior faculty/mid-career faculty  consortia. He is also serving on the Board of Directors of Apollo Indraprastha Medical  Corporation and Apollo Health and Lifestyle Limited, and on the Developing and Deploying at Scale Disruptive Technologies Working Group of the US National Commission on  Innovation and Competitiveness Frontiers. 

LEO Award Committee

The LEO Award committee is comprised of AIS members as established in the Bylaws. Current committee members include:    

  • Sue Newell, Warwick Business School (term ends June 30, 2021)
  • Alan Hevner, University of South Florida (term ends June 30, 2021)
  • Choon Ling Sia, City University of Hong Kong (term ends June 30, 2021)
  • Richard Baskerville, Georgia State University, Region 1
  • Cathy Urquhart, Manchester Metropolitan University, Region 2
  • Wai Fong Boh, Nanyang Technological University, Region 3

The Selection Process

A description of the selection process can be found in Council Policy. If you would like to submit a nomination for this award, please use the online nomination form.

Previous Leo Award Recipients

2018: David AvisonJane Fedorowicz
2017: Sirkka L. Jarvenpaa,  Vallabh Sambamurthy 
2016: Richard BaskervilleJames Marsden
2015: Dennis GallettaAllen Lee, Kwok Kee Wei, and Dov Te’eni
2014: Gary Dickson, Joey George and Ting-Ping (T.P.) Liang
2013: Rudy Hirschheim and Kalle Lyytinen
2012: Bob Galliers and Detmar Straub
2011: Richard (Rick) Watson and Ron Weber
2010: Blake Ives and Carol Saunders
2009: Daniel Robey and E. Burton Swanson
2008: Dewald RoodeM. Lynne MarkusRobert W. Zmud and Kenneth L. Kraemer
2007: Izak Benbasat and Ephraim McLean
2006: Niels Bjørn-Andersen and Phillip Ein-Dor
2005: Andrew B. Whinston
2004: William R. King and Rob Kling
2003: Frank Land and John F. Rockart
2002: Jay F. Nunamaker and Paul Gray
2001: Richard O. Mason
2000: Gordon B. Davis
1999: C. West Churchman, J. Daniel Couger, Börje LangeforsEnid Mumford