(Photo by Adam Lau/Berkeley Engineering)

Berkeley EECS faculty to join NSF-backed AI cybersecurity institute

Five Berkeley EECS faculty members have joined the newly formed AI Institute for Agent-based Cyber Threat Intelligence and Operation (ACTION), which is backed by the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF will invest $140 million into seven new National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes, of which ACTION is a key institute that will use AI to address risks in cybersecurity. The UC Berkeley team will be led by CS Professor Dawn Song, as well as Professors Stuart Russell, Pieter Abbeel, David Wagner, and Bin Yu. “UC Berkeley’s team aims to develop both new foundational technologies in learning and reasoning, as well as their novel applications in the cybersecurity domain, to significantly improve state-of-the-art technologies throughout the life cycle of cyber defense,” said Song.


Gireeja Ranade and Sophia Shao win NSF CAREER Awards

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded two EECS assistant professors, Gireeja Ranade and Sophia Shao, with Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards. The awards are part of NSF's prestigious CAREER Program, which supports early-career faculty “who have the potential to serve as academic role models” and leaders in their field. Ranade received a grant of $422,181 to explore new non-linear control strategies, while Shao received a grant of $600,000 to fund her work on improving the performance of computing platforms.

William Kahan raising a glass in celebration of IEEE Standard 754
(Photo: Berkeley EECS)

IEEE Standard 754 Milestone Dedication honors William Kahan

A dedication ceremony was held to honor EECS Emeritus Professor William Kahan for his contribution to the development of IEEE Standard 754. The ceremony, which took place on Wednesday, May 3rd, included remarks from Dean Liu, Chair Tomlin, and CS Professor Jim Demmel. A new commemorative plaque was unveiled in Soda Hall, next to the IEEE plaque that celebrates Berkeley EECS’ contribution to RISC. The new plaque celebrates Kahan and others’ work in the development of IEEE Standard 754, which was originally conceived in 1978. Kahan and his colleagues revolutionized numerical computing, creating arithmetic and standard data types that improved software reliability and portability. The IEEE 754 standard is widely used for numerical computing and is still being improved today.


Gireeja Ranade honored for outstanding mentorship of GSIs

EECS Teaching Professor Gireeja Ranade has received the Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs. The annual award, which is sponsored by the Graduate Council’s Advisory Committee for GSI Affairs and the GSI Teaching & Resource Center, recognizes faculty who have provided GSIs outstanding teaching and pedagogical mentorship at Berkeley and in preparing for teaching in future careers.


EECS Alumna Leslie Field featured in The New Yorker

EECS Alumna Leslie Field (Ph.D. ‘91, M.S. ‘89) was featured in The New Yorker, highlighting a novel approach to combating one of the most proximate effects of climate change: the melting of polar ice caps and mountain glaciers. In work formalized in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, Field and her colleagues applied a thin layer of glass microspheres on top of a frozen lake and demonstrated that such materials can slow the melting of ice over the thawing season by absorbing additional solar radiation. These methods proposed by Field and promoted by her non-profit organization, Ice911, aim to address the near-term effects of climate change by delaying melting ice and therefore sea level rise, knowing “that their approach [is] not a substitute for the larger undertaking of cutting climate pollution to near-zero. … ” The article further raised probing and vexing questions about the costs, benefits, and complex moral calculus of this and other proposed large-scale geoengineering projects aimed at the climate crisis, such as whether those efforts may unfairly burden indigenous communities in the Arctic or inadvertently deprioritize other environmental concerns brought on by introducing new substances into delicate ecosystems. “Action is risky, but so is inaction; geoengineering highlights the tension between speed and safety […] meanwhile, the climate crisis will grow more urgent with every day that passes—until, one day, the melting of the cryosphere makes our questions moot.”

Chancellor Christ, Dean Liu and others breaking ground with shovels at the new site of the Engineering Center
(Berkeley Engineering photo by Adam Lau)

COE celebrates groundbreaking of new Engineering Center

The College of Engineering held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Engineering Center on April 21. The new building, which is scheduled for completion in 2025, will be a hub for student collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The building will serve as a space for students across different disciplines and perspectives to connect, learn from each other, and build community. Thus far, 85% of the funds required to complete the project have been raised through the support of the Engineering Advisory board and key benefactors. The ceremony was attended by hundreds, including faculty, staff and students, and featured remarks by Dean Liu and Chancellor Christ. “We need to provide intellectual and actual physical space for engineers to become entrepreneurs, for climate scientists to partner with public health experts, and for computer scientists to work with legal scholars,” said Chancellor Christ. “This will be a place of possibility where, each year, thousands of engineering students and their peers from across the campus will converge, hear diverse perspectives, and skills will be melded, multiplied and brought to bear on the biggest challenges of our day, from climate change to global health to misinformation.”


Berkeley EECS graduate programs lead US News Rankings

The U.S. News & World Report ranked both the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science graduate programs at Berkeley EECS among the top three graduate programs in the nation for 2023. Computer Science is ranked #1, tied with MIT and Stanford. Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering are ranked #2, tied with Stanford. The magazine based its rankings on responses from 202 engineering schools across the country, including data from fall 2022 and early 2023. This year, U.S. News included non-responders from the 220 schools surveyed, so long as they reported enough data to be eligible in 2022.


NSF-IUSE awards Narges Nourozi $4M in research grants

Two proposals led by CS Teaching Professor Narges Nourozi have won $4 million in funding from the National Science Foundation Directorate for STEM Education (NSF-IUSE). The proposals, “Transforming Introductory Computer Science Instruction with an AI-Driven Classroom Assistant” and “CUE-P: Establishing Servingness in Computing through Baskin Engineering Excellence Scholars Program” have been awarded approximately $2 million over four years, and $1.9 million over five years, respectively. The first proposal, INSIGHT, is a collaboration between North Carolina State University and UC Berkeley focusing on an AI-driven classroom assistant that holds significant transformative potential for yielding a deeper understanding of how students learn computer science with AI-driven classroom assistants and producing a set of practical instructional support principles for coding-enriched classroom interactions. The second proposal is a CUE Pathways project, wherein researchers from the Universities of California collaborate with eight California community colleges to study the effects of operationalizing servingness and transfer pathways between two- and four-year institutions to increase persistence, knowledge attainment, belongingness, graduation, and post-graduation outcomes.


Venkatesan Guruswami wins 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship

CS Professor Venkatesan Guruswami has won the 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship for his research proposal on mathematical computer science titled, “Mathematical Structure and Efficient Algorithms:  The Polymorphic Gateway.” The fellowship is awarded by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation on the basis of "prior achievement and exceptional promise." Professor Guruswami is a Chancellor’s Professor and a senior scientist at the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing. “I’m really delighted and grateful to be chosen for this Fellowship, and honored to join its distinguished roster of past recipients,” said Guruswami.

Jelani Nelson receives ACM-SIGACT Distinguished Service Award

CS Professor Jelani Nelson has won the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group for Algorithms and Computation Theory (ACM-SIGACT) Distinguished Service Award. Nelson was cited “for outstanding contributions to broadening participation in computer science, and in theoretical computer science in particular.” Awarded annually, the SIGACT Distinguished Service Award is given to those who have made "substantial contributions to the Theoretical Computer Science community.” Nelson founded AddisCoder, a summer program that aims to introduce high school students in developing countries to the fundamentals of computational thinking. The program, which began in Ethiopia, has educated more than 500 students and has recently extended to Jamaica. Nelson also co-founded the David Harold Blackwell Summer Research Institute, whose internship opportunities serve undergraduates across the U.S. with the goal of increasing African American students that pursue graduate studies in mathematical sciences.