News

RAFAR wins Best Student Paper Award at MARSS 2018

"Bidirectional thin-film repulsive-/attractive-force electrostatic actuators for a crawling milli-robot," written by recent EE alumnus Ethan Schaler (Ph.D. '18), his advisor Prof. Ron Fearing, and two undergraduates from other departments (Loren Jiang in BioE and Caitlyn  Lee in E3S), received the Best Student Paper Award  from the International Conference on Manipulation, Automation, and  Robotics at Small Scales (MARSS) 2018 in Nagoya, Japan in July. The authors demonstrated a new thin-film electrostatic actuator (RAFA)  capable of generating bidirectional repulsive- and attractive-forces:  156 Pa in repulsion and 352 Pa in attraction, when operating at up to  1.2 kV. They used this actuator to power RAFAR, a 132 mg milli-robot  that crawls at 0.32 mm/s with anisotropic friction feet.   Schaler will be joining NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) this summer.

Maxim Rabinovich named 2018 Hertz-Gates Fellow

CS Ph.D. student Maxim Rabinovich (joint advisors: Michael Jordan and Daniel Klein) has received a 2018 Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Hertz-Gates Fellowship in Global Health and Development.  Rabinovich is currently researching machine learning and natural language processing, and is interested in developing artificial intelligence tools that support and extend human reasoning. Recent work in this direction includes projects on minimax theory for multiple testing, code generation from natural language specifications, fine-grained entity typing, and function-specific mixing rates for MCMC.  Rabinovich's work has been supported by the Hertz Foundation since 2015.

Larry Nagel wins IEEE Donald O. Pederson Award in Solid-State Circuits

EECS alumnus Larry Nagel (B.S. '69/M.S. '70/Ph.D. '75) has won the 2019 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Donald O. Pederson Award in Solid-State Circuits, named for his graduate advisor EECS Prof. Donald O. Pederson.  The award recognizes outstanding contributions to solid-state circuits and has previously been presented to five EECS professors: Paul Gray, Robert Brodersen, Ping Ko, Chenming Hu and Robert Meyer.  Nagel was cited "for the development and demonstration of SPICE as a tool to design and optimize electronic circuits."  His Ph.D. dissertation was on SPICE2 and he founded Omega Enterprises in 1998 to consult on analog circuit design, circuit simulation, and semiconductor device modeling.

Andrea Goldsmith wins IEEE Eric E. Sumner Award

2018 Distinguished Alumna Andrea Goldsmith (B.A. '86/M.S. '91/Ph.D. '94, advisor: Pravin Varaiya) has won the IEEE Eric E. Sumner Award "for contributions to the fundamental understanding and innovation in adaptive and multiple antenna techniques for wireless communication networks."    The Sumner Award is sponsored by Nokia Bell Labs and recognizes outstanding contributions to communications technology. Goldsmith, who is the Stephen Harris Professor of Electrical Engineering in the School of Engineering at Stanford University, is an expert in the design, analysis and fundamental performance limits of wireless systems and networks, and in the application of communication theory and signal processing to neuroscience.

Chelsea Finn is one of MIT TR's 2018 35 Innovators Under 35

CS PhD student Chelsea Finn (advisers: Pieter Abbeel and Sergey Levine) has been named to MIT Technology Review's 2018 list of "35 Innovators Under 35," an honor which recognizes "exceptionally talented young innovators whose work we believe has the greatest potential to transform the world."  Finn is cited in the Pioneers category because "her robots act like toddlers—watching adults, copying them in order to learn."  She works in the Berkeley AI Research Lab (BAIR) developing robots that can learn just by observing and exploring their environment. Her algorithms require much less data than is usually needed to train an AI—so little that robots running her software can learn how to manipulate an object just by watching one video of a human doing it. “In many ways, the capabilities of robotic systems are still in their infancy,” she says. “The goal is to have them gain common sense.”

Alessandro Chiesa named one of MIT TR's 35 Innovators Under 35

CS Assistant Prof. Alessandro Chiesa has been named to the 2018 roster of MIT Technology Review's "35 Innovators Under 35."  The list acknowledges "exceptionally talented young innovators whose work we believe has the greatest potential to transform the world."  Chiesa, who co-founded Zcash, was cited in the Pioneers category for "a cryptocurrency that’s as private as cash."  Zcash employs a cryptographic protocol called a succinct zero-knowledge proof--an efficient way to convince both parties to a transaction that something is true without divulging any other information. It allows people to do transactions online without risking their privacy or exposing themselves to identity theft.  Launched 4 years ago, Zcash now has a market cap of over a billion dollars.

John Schulman named MIT TR Pioneering Innovator Under 35

CS alumnus John Schulman (Ph.D. '16, adviser: Pieter Abbeel) has been named to MIT Technology Review's 2018 list of "35 Innovators Under 35," an honor which recognizes "exceptionally talented young innovators whose work we believe has the greatest potential to transform the world."  Schulman, whose dissertation was on "Optimizing Expectations: From Deep Reinforcement Learning to Stochastic Computation Graphs," is cited in the Pioneer category for "training AI to be smarter and better, one game of Sonic the Hedgehog at a time."   He is the co-founder of OpenAI, where he has created some key algorithms in reinforcement learning: he trains AI agents in the same way you might train a dog, by offering a treat for a correct response--in this case, by racking up a high score in a video game.  These algorithms, once trained, might be applied in the real world, where they can be used to improve robot locomotion.

Tsu-Jae King Liu named Dean of Berkeley Engineering

Prof. Tsu-Jae King Liu has been selected as the new Dean of the College of Engineering.  King Liu served as Associate Dean for Research in the College from 2008-12, Chair of the EECS department from 2014-16, and Vice Provost for Academic and Space Planning on the Berkeley campus from 2016-18. She is a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors, and is internationally recognized for her research innovations in semiconductor devices and technology, garnering numerous awards and honors for her work.  King Liu is replacing Prof. Shankar Sastry, who held the post for more than 10 years.

Soumen Chakrabarti and Sunita Sarawagi among 10 Best Machine Learning Researchers in India

Two CS alumni, Soumen Chakrabarti (Ph.D. '96, advisor: Katherine Yelick) and Sunita Sarawagi (Ph.D. '96, advisor: Michael Stonebraker), both currently CSE professors at IIT Bombay, have made the 2018 list of Analytics India Magazine's Top 10 Machine Learning Researchers in India. Chakrabarti's research interests include better embedding representation for passages, entities, types and relation; searching the annotated Web with entities, types and relations; and Graph conductance search. He holds eight US patents, has produced 167 research papers, and authored one of the earliest books on web search and mining.  Sarawagi is interested in deep learning, web information extraction, data integration, graphical models and structured learning.  She has published more than 130 research papers and holds four patents.

Bin Yu wins COPSS 2018 Elizabeth L. Scott Award

EE/CS Prof. and alumna Bin Yu (M.S. '87/Ph.D. '90) has won the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) 2018 Elizabeth L. Scott Award.  This award is granted to an individual who has helped foster opportunities in statistics for women, exemplifying the spirit of mathematician and statistician Elizabeth L. Scott. Scott, who like Yu was a Cal alumna and professor, was a founding member of Berkeley's statistics department and fought hard for women's equal treatment on campus and beyond.  COPSS is comprised of the presidents, past presidents and presidents-elect of five Northern American statistical societies, and their awards are considered among the most prestigious in the field of statistics. Yu, who has a split appointment in EECS and Statistics, is interested in statistical inference, machine learning, and information theory. Her collaborations are highly interdisciplinary and include scientists from genomics, neuroscience, precision medicine, and political science.