Photo of Lori  Payne

Lori Payne

Department Head of Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics; Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics

Contact Information

Wubben Hall and Science Center 134K



PhD, University of Northern Colorado
MS, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
BA, Mesa College


Lori Payne, PhD, comes from an interdisciplinary background, which she said works well in the field of computer science. Her first degree was in mathematics. After graduation, she worked in industry as a computer programmer. Payne then returned to graduate school and learned to write modeling programs in groundwater hydrology at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. After earning an MS, she worked for several more years in industry, then began teaching at CMU. Payne completed a doctorate in educational technology, specializing in interactive software (computer assisted instruction). All her areas of study focus on developing software in science, business and in education.

Payne teaches beginning computer science courses (CS1, CS2, and CS3), as well as courses in user interface design (her specialty at the doctoral level), numerical analysis (her specialty at the master's level) and programming languages (her interest). She also teaches algorithms classes, in which students develop computer algorithms to solve interesting programs.

Her main focus is on teaching students to think like a computer scientist — to understand how a computer language works, how to understand a problem and to decide what we need to tell a computer to do the job we need. Those ideas are the basis of most of her courses. 

In the user interface design course, students develop their first large team project. They also learn — probably for the first time — to consider those who have to use programs. They have to consider issues of culture, perception, and learning, as well as the basics of systems analysis. 

In addition, Payne occasionally teach some introductory math/introductory statistics courses. Her inner mathematician loves working in these areas, and since statistics is key to most research today, it is an important course.

Payne has been teaching for 31 years, and has had the wonderful experience of teaching students from many backgrounds. She also worked as a computer scientist in industry a total of 14 years, both in business and in science. That experience influences much of what she does in the classroom.