News

EECS FLIP alliance faculty & alumni

Berkeley FLIPs for Diversity

When Dan Garcia first attended UC Berkeley as a graduate student, he was amazed at the many different faces and key spaces that make up the world's top public research university.  “I can’t imagine being anywhere else," says Garcia, adding that part of what makes Berkeley special is the confluence of its diverse urban setting, large size, and a campus culture that fosters and celebrates diversity.  Today, as a professor, Garcia is passionate about broadening participation in computer science: “If you want to move the needle on diversity, come join us at UC Berkeley!” The university just announced its membership in the NSF-funded FLIP Alliance (Diversifying Future Leadership In the Professoriate), which consists  of eleven top Computer Science departments that produce over half of new URM CS faculty. FLIP aims to quickly and radically change the demographic diversity of the CS professoriate by sharing best practices for recruiting, retaining, and developing URM graduate students at member institutions. Current Berkeley faculty and students talk about the Department’s welcoming and collaborative atmosphere, and why Berkeley is eager to attract talented URM applicants and stop “leaving so much talent on the table,” in the words of Cuban-American professor Armando Fox.

Randy Katz named Berkeley’s next Vice Chancellor for Research

United Microelectronics Corporation Distinguished Prof. Randy Katz (also alumnus, Ph.D. '80) has been appointed Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Berkeley.  Katz helped pioneer many technologies that are ubiquitous today, like  wide-area wireless networks for mobile devices, cloud-based applications and cloud storage,  and ways of managing and protecting computer networks.  The vice chancellor for research search committee was impressed with Katz’s "vision, his ability to lead the campus in identifying new research and funding opportunities, and his dedication to providing outstanding research administration support to our community."  “Trust in higher education, the level of support for public higher education and belief in the importance of research to the excellence of an institution like ours are being undermined in the current social and political context,” he said. “I am very excited to be given the responsibility as vice chancellor for research, and hopefully I can make some positive advances in reversing that direction.”   He will begin his tenure on Jan. 1, 2018.

Vestri the robot playing and learning

New robots predict their future by learning like babies

Prof. Sergey Levine and grad students Chelsea Finn and Frederik Ebert have developed a robotic learning technology called visual foresight that enables robots to imagine the future of their actions so they can figure out how to manipulate objects they have never encountered before. “This can enable intelligent planning of highly flexible skills in complex real-world situations," Levine says.  In the future, this technology could help self-driving cars anticipate future events on the road and produce more intelligent robotic assistants in homes, but the initial prototype focuses on learning simple manual skills entirely from autonomous play--like children do.  

Justin Yim and Salto-IP (New Straits Times)

Biomimetic Millisystems: designs from nature

Prof. Ron Fearing, grad student Justin Yim, and the Biomimetic Millisystems Lab are featured in a New Straits Times article titled "Designs from nature," which explores the ways that lab scientists apply observations of animals in an attempt to mimic their motions over land, air and underwater to propel revolutionary technologies.  The article covers Salto-IP, a monopedal jumping robot inspired by the galago, and the VelociRoACH, a hexapedal robot inspired by the cockroach.  “Our team develops small-scale robots that are low-cost and light-weight, with masses below 100g and are disposable. We build things and test them out rapidly," Fearing says.

Diane Greene makes 2017 Bloomberg 50

CS alumna Diane Greene (M.S. '88) is ranked 12 on Bloomberg Businessweek's list of the 50 people who defined global business in 2017.   Greene is the senior vice president and cloud chief at Google.  Although the Google Cloud Platform currently has only about 5% of the cloud market, it grew more than 80% in the past year under her management--outpacing industry leader Amazon.com Inc.  Greene thinks Google Cloud could surpass Amazon Web Services by 2022 as it sells more software tools and services and becomes Google’s chief vehicle for bringing advances in artificial intelligence and quantum computing to market.

Harlan Yu shines a light on the civil-rights dimensions of a wired world

EECS alumnus and civil rights leader Harlan Yu (B.S. '04) is appealing to CS departments to show students how they can “pull on various levers of policy" to keep the public protected.  Yu, who is now the Executive Director of a non-profit tech-policy consulting group called Upturn, is the focus of a Princeton Alumni Weekly article describing how he, and Upturn co-founder David Robinson, are working to shape the future of technology.  They helped draft the influential “Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data,” as well as a set of principles to specifically address the use of body cameras by police.  They also helped curb the proliferation of targeted online ads for payday loans and are involved in the fight for internet freedom abroad.  In the future, they plan to tackle social equity in the development of self-driving cars, like the potential for carmakers’ mapping technology to restrict where autonomous vehicles can and cannot drive.  “We need many more computer scientists and technologists focusing on the core social problems — in housing, in education policy, in health policy, in all sorts of core areas where new technologies are going to shift the landscape,” Yu says. “As technology continues to permeate all aspects of our society, there’s just going to be a greater need for this kind of work.”

Sameera Vemulapalli named runner-up for 2018 Alice T. Schafer Prize

Math and L&S CS major Sameera Vemulapalli has been named Runner-up for the 2018 Alice T. Schafer Prize for Excellence in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Woman. The Schafer Prize is awarded annually by the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) to the most outstanding woman mathematics undergraduate in the United States.  Vemulpalli, who is currently finishing her senior year, was judged on  the quality of her performance in advanced mathematics courses and special programs,  her demonstrated real interest in mathematics ability for independent work in mathematics, and her performance in mathematical competitions at the local or national level.

Keshab Parhi named AAAS Fellow

EECS alumnus Keshab Parhi (Ph.D. '88) has been named a 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow in recognition of his contributions to science and technology, scientific leadership and extraordinary achievements across disciplines.  He is currently the Edgar F. Johnson Professor of Electronic Communication and a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Minnesota.  His research interests include communications, signal processing and networking, computer engineering, VLSI and circuits, biomedical and biological computational methods, devices, and system.

Allen Tang (second from left) and team (David Filiberti via Citadel)

Allen Tang's team wins data science competition

EECS Master's student Allen Tang (also alumnus, B.A. CS/Statistics/ORMS) and his Berkeley teammates have won the Data Open Championship at the New York Stock Exchange.  The winners receive a $100,000 cash prize and possible job interviews with Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund firm. The competition was comprised of 20 one-day competitions from Stanford to MIT to Oxford, with the best performers competing in the week-long finale.  The Berkeley team of four applied data science to a meaningful problem in education--the impact of opening charter schools--to find where more funding would have the biggest effect. They worked 16-hour days during the week and produced a 20-page report and presentation on how charter schools have a negative impact in the short-term but outperform public schools in the long-term because of a survivorship bias. Only good charters stay in the system while bad ones close.

A “blankie” that contains printed MRI coils (Usha Lee McFarling/STAT)

Ana Claudia Arias, Miki Lustig, and Joe Corea's printable, wearable devices

Prof. Ana Claudia Arias, Prof. Miki Lustig, and graduate student Joseph Corea, are featured in a STAT article titled "Electronics ‘like a second skin’ make wearables more practical and MRIs safer for kids."  The team is using printers loaded with a variety of high-tech inks (liquid silver nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes and semiconducting plastics) to make a new generation of medical devices, from wearables to barely noticeable MRI hardware for kids.  They have created light, flexible MRI coils that will improve image quality as well as patient comfort, and  have spun off a company called InkSpace Imaging to speed development.  “What would be best would be electronics that were almost like a second skin,” Arias said. “No adhesive. No straps. Almost like underwear — you forget that you’re wearing it.”