Left to right: Phoebe Cheng, Manager Civil/Structural Engineering, BART; EECS Chair Claire Tomlin; Nikhila Pai, Sr. Manager of On Call Professional Service Agreements, BART; (photo: EECS)

Berkeley EECS and BART celebrate Women's History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, Berkeley EECS and BART worked together to Embrace Equity in STEM. Over the course of 50 years, both organizations have strived to be engines of societal change and social mobility, and they continue to do so today: BART, by providing fast, reliable transportation to the public; Berkeley EECS through its mission to educate leaders, create knowledge, and serve society. The World Economic Forum has estimated that only 20% of engineering graduates are women, and women of color represent only 2% of all engineering professionals. Women are particularly underrepresented in leadership roles, comprising 24% in technology and 16% in infrastructure. To bridge the gap, Berkeley EECS is committed to promoting access to education and careers in STEM for women and girls. BART is a vital part of the transportation infrastructure in the Bay Area, and it plays a key role in ensuring that everyone has access to education and impactful careers in STEM. EECS Chair Claire Tomlin served as a special guest and ambassador for women in engineering, and participated in a panel discussion with BART engineers and Berkeley Engineering alumnae to promote early access to education for young women aspiring to make a greater impact on society. “It’s important that there are women role-models and people you can relate to,” said Professor Tomlin. “The number of women in engineering is still too low and I think we should be striving for a percentage of women that’s representative of the population.”

A diptych of the best prize recipients. Left: Nathan Brooks presenting; Right: the remaining authors posing for a photo at SPEC 2022
Left to right: Nathan Brooks, Samantha Coday, Rose Abramson, Robert Pilawa-Podgurski, Nathan Ellis, and Margaret Blackwell

EECS Grads win IEEE COMPEL Best Paper Award

Graduate students Nathan Brooks, Samantha Coday, Maggie Blackwell, Rose Abramson, and post-doc Nathan Ellis have won the IEEE COMPEL Best Paper Award for their paper, "Operation of Flying Capacitor Multilevel Converters At and Above Resonance." The paper was presented at the 23rd IEEE Workshop on Control and Modeling for Power Electronics (COMPEL), which took place in Tel Aviv, Israel. COMPEL is the premier conference on the latest advances in modeling, simulation, analysis, and control of power electronics devices, circuits and systems. The criteria for the award are based on the quality of the technical results, write-up, and presentation. The paper describes a new method for operating flying capacitor multilevel converters at and above resonance, which has proven to be more efficient and with better performance than existing methods. In addition to the best paper award, the group, advised by Professor Robert Pilawa-Podgurski, organized and presented a tutorial at the IEEE 7th Southern Power Electronics Conference (SPEC) in December 2022.

(Photo by Michael Ball)

Berkeley EECS leads strong showing at SIGCSE

Berkeley EECS led a strong showing at the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Technical Symposium. SIGCSE, held last week in Toronto, Canada, is the premier venue for innovations in CS education and pedagogy. The event boasts attendance of over 1000 computer scientists from around the world, representing CS education research in all levels of CS teaching, including K-12, higher education and professional education. This year, EECS faculty and students contributed four papers, two posters, two workshops, and two panels, led by faculty members such as Michael Ball, Armando Fox, Dan Garcia, Peyrin Kao, Narges Norouzi, Gireeja Ranade, and Lisa Yan. Professor Ranade and her group presented their work on inclusive group formation. Dan Garcia’s presentation, “A’s for All” detailed how Berkeley EECS is pivoting toward mastery learning. Professor Fox and graduate student Victor Huang presented their use of a “climate-first lens” to train first-time TAs in CS teaching techniques. “I'm proud to be among such a high-powered group that is advancing the state of the art in the theory and practice of CS pedagogy,” said Fox.


EECS Faculty to explore implications of ChatGPT in new AI lecture series

EECS Faculty will headline a new AI lecture series to explore the “paradigm shift” that ChatGPT and other large language models (LLMs) have catalyzed. CS Professors Jitendra Malik, Stuart Russell and Michael Jordan are among the seven speakers scheduled this spring to address the sensation that is ChatGPT and other related LLMs. CS Professor Ken Goldberg, who organized the lecture series on behalf of Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research (BAIR), said, “Something changed very dramatically with the performance of ChatGPT, compared with previous large language models, and everyone, including experts, is asking, ‘What does it mean? Where do we go from here?’” The series will also feature John Schulman (Ph.D. ‘16; advisor: Pieter Abbeel), a co-founder of OpenAI and the primary architect of ChatGPT. “Everyone wants to hear from the experts,” Goldberg said. “There are so many misconceptions out there. In the series, we’ll hear from those who have been working in the field for many years who can provide valuable perspectives on the importance of ChatGPT.”

(Photo by Keegan Houser)

Joshua Hug wins 2023 UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award

Professor Joshua Hug has won the University of California, Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award. Presented by the Academic Senate, the Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA) is considered UC Berkeley’s most prestigious award for teaching. The DTA recognizes individual faculty “for sustained excellence in teaching.” Recipients are among the brightest teaching stars on campus, widely recognized for their inspiring and transformational teaching. The highly selective, multi-phase nomination process seeks teachers who incite intellectual curiosity and whose teaching has a life-long impact. Only 223 faculty have received the award since its inception in 1959, including several from Berkeley EECS. Hug is known for teaching CS 61B, an introductory computer science course on data structures that regularly enrolls over 1500 students each spring. DTA  winners are frequently called upon by the campus community to provide a voice on issues related to teaching. They serve on forums, panels, and committees involving teaching issues, and they are advocates for excellence in teaching at Berkeley.


University College Dublin names EECS alumna as president

EECS alumna Orla Feely is the first woman to be named President of University College Dublin (UCD). Feely (M.S. ’90, Ph.D. ‘92 EECS, advisor: Leon O. Chua ) will lead UCD for a ten-year term beginning in May. Feely, a Professor of Electronic Engineering, is currently the Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact at UCD. At Berkeley, her Ph.D. thesis won the David J. Sakrison Memorial Prize for outstanding and innovative research, and she also received the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award. Feely’s research interests are in nonlinear circuits and systems. She is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Engineers Ireland, the Irish Academy of Engineering, and an IEEE Fellow.


Bin Yu wins 2023 COPSS Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship

The Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) has selected Bin Yu, Professor of EECS and Statistics, for the 2023 Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship (DAAL). Formerly known as the R. A. Fisher Award and Lectureship, the DAAL recognizes meritorious achievement and scholarship in statistical science and recognizes the highly significant impact of statistical methods on scientific investigations. She will deliver the DAAL Lecture at JSM in 2023 on veridical data science. Yu’s research focuses on practice, algorithm, and theory of statistical machine learning, interpretable machine learning, and causal inference. Her group is engaged in interdisciplinary research with scientists from genomics, neuroscience, and precision medicine. She and her group have developed the predictability, computability, and stability (PCS) framework for veridical data science toward responsible, reliable, and transparent data analysis and decision-making.


Jessy Lin and Abhishek Shetty win 2023 Apple Scholars in AI/ML PhD fellowships

Two EECS graduate students, Jessy Lin (advisors: Anca Dragan and Dan Klein) and Abhishek Shetty (advisor: Nika Haghtalab) have been named 2023 recipients of the Apple Scholars in AI/ML PhD fellowship. This fellowship recognizes graduate and postgraduate students in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Apple Scholars are selected based on “innovative research, record as thought leaders and collaborators, and commitment to advancing their respective fields.” Jessy Lin’s research is focused on using language as a medium to build agents that can collaborate and interact with humans. Abhishek Shetty’s research is broadly interested in theoretical computer science and machine learning, understanding how learning theory, complexity theory, and probability interact with each other. Apple Scholars receive funding to support their research, and mentorship with an Apple researcher in their field.


Allen J. Lichtenberg has died

EECS Prof. Emeritus Allen Joseph Lichtenberg passed away on February 21, 2023, at age 92. Lichtenberg’s research is associated with high-temperature plasma, nonlinear dynamics, and energy utilization. He had been a part of this research since the inception of these fields,  publishing over 150 articles in the area. His monograph, “Phase Space Dynamics of Particles,” was published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. in 1969 and was later translated into Russian. His second book, “Regular and Stochastic Motion,” co-authored by Michael Lieberman, was published by Springer-Verlag in 1983 and was also translated into Russian. A second edition was published in 2005, with translations into Chinese and Japanese. Lichtenberg received his A.B. degree from Harvard University in 1952, and his M.S. degree from MIT in 1954. In September 1957 he joined the Department of Electrical Engineering (pre-EECS) as an Acting Assistant Professor. He left in 1959 to obtain his Ph.D. degree in Applied Physics from Oxford University. He returned to the Berkeley campus in 1961. From 1965-1966 he was a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow and studied radiation from high-temperature plasmas and phase-space concepts in particle dynamics. He held a Miller Research Professorship during 1968-1969, and he chaired the newly formed campus Energy and Resources Graduate Group from 1974-1978.


Hari Balakrishnan wins 2023 Marconi Prize

2021 Distinguished CS Alumnus Hari Balakrishnan (Ph.D. 1998, advisor: Randy Katz) has won the 2023 Marconi Prize “for his fundamental contributions to mobile sensing, networking, and distributed systems.” The Marconi Prize, which is the highest honor of the Marconi Society, is given each year to innovators who have made significant contributions to increasing inclusivity through the advancement of information and communications technology. Balakrishnan is the Fujitsu Professor of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. He is also the Founder, CTO, and Chairman of Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT). His graduate work at Berkeley won the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award in 1998. He was inducted to the National Academy of Engineering in 2015 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017; he received the Infosys Prize in 2020 and the IEEE Koji Kobayashi Award for Computers and Communication in 2021 for his important contributions to networks, mobile systems, and telematics. He is also a Fellow of both the ACM and IEEE.