Chelsea Finn wins 2018 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

Recent graduate Chelsea Finn (Ph.D. '18, advisors: Pieter Abbeel and Sergey Levine), has won the prestigious ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award. This award is presented annually to "the author(s) of the best doctoral dissertation(s) in computer science and engineering."  In her dissertation, "Learning to Learn with Gradients," Finn introduced algorithms for meta-learning that enable deep networks to solve new tasks from small datasets, and demonstrated how her algorithms can be applied in areas including computer vision, reinforcement learning and robotics.  Finn  is currently a research scientist at Google Brain, a post-doc at the Berkeley AI Research Lab (BAIR), and an acting assistant professor at Stanford.  Last year's recipient, Aviad Rubinstein, was also a Berkeley EECS alum.

Soham Phade and Venkat Anantharam win GameNets Best Paper Award

Graduate student Soham Phade and his advisor, Venkat Anantharam, have won the Best Paper Award at the 9th EAI International Conference on Game Theory for Networks (GameNets 2019).  Their paper, titled "Optimal Resource Allocation over Networks via Lottery-Based Mechanisms," was in the Games for Economy and Resource Allocation category.  Phade's current focus is on "designing market-based mechanisms and algorithms on presumably more accurate models of human behavior from psychology and decision theory, for increasing human welfare and for building more efficient commercial systems that interact with humans."

Vasuki Narasimha Swamy named 2019 Marconi Society Paul Baran Young Scholar

Graduate student Vasuki Narasimha Swamy (advisor: Anant Sahai) has been recognized as a 2019 Marconi Society Paul Baran Young Scholar for her work designing robust wireless protocol frameworks for ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC).  Paul Baran Young Scholarships, which are awarded to just a handful of young researchers throughout the world every year, recognize those who have demonstrated "exceptional capability and potential."  In addition to her innovations to URLLC networks, Swamy helped to co-found BiasBusters, an organization that addresses implicit bias issues in the EECS department.  The mission of the Marconi Society is to "inspire innovations in the Internet and communications that benefit humankind.”

Jordan Edmunds named 2019 Hertz Fellow

EE graduate student Jordan Edmunds (advisor: Michel Maharbiz), has been named a 2019 fellow by the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing groundbreaking applied science with real-world benefits for all humanity.   Edmunds, whose current work focuses on neural interfaces, has produced more than 120 instructional videos on electrical engineering topics, and regularly interacts with community middle school students via Berkeley’s Be a Scientist program. Hertz Foundation awards allow fellows "the freedom to pursue innovative research wherever it may lead."

Caroline Lemieux and Daniel Fried named 2019 Google PhD Fellows

CS graduate students Caroline Lemieux (adviser: Koushik Sen) and Daniel Fried (adviser: Daniel Klein) have won 2019 Google PhD Fellowships.  The Google PhD Fellowship Program was created to recognize outstanding graduate students doing exceptional work in computer science and related research areas.  Fellowships are awarded to students who "represent the future of research" in those fields. Lemieux, who won in the field of Programming Technology and Software Engineering, has interests which center around improving, or helping developers to improve, the correctness, reliability, and understanding of software systems.  Fried, who won in the Natural Language Processing category,  is interested in grounding language in perception and interaction, and in structured prediction.

UC Berkeley undergraduates launch soundproof karaoke pod startup

A team of three undergraduates, including EECS junior Aayush Tyagi, launched Oki Karaoke in September 2018 — a startup that aims to bring Asia’s soundproof karaoke pods to the United States. The startup is currently working to install its first booth, which will operate by charging customers by the minute, in Westfield San Francisco Centre in mid- to late June. “The new format of karaoke that we bring, namely the more intimate and spontaneous experience of a booth, makes karaoke more palatable for the American market, where privacy is a bigger concern,” said co-founder Noha Adriany.

Nolan Pokpongkiat wins third place David L. Kirp Prize

Third-year Computer Science undergraduate Nolan Pokpongkiat is the third place winner of the KIDS FIRST: David L. Kirp Prize, funded by the U.C. Berkeley Institute for the Study of Societal Issues.  The prize recognizes "students who have developed innovative strategies to increase opportunities for children and youth, as well as students who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the future of children and youth."  Pokpongkiat co-founded Helix, a non-profit organization with the goal of diversifying the healthcare field by empowering young people to pursue futures in medicine. As Managing Director, Nolan brought together a team to design a month-long summer program where high school students spend a week living at UC Berkeley training in basic clinical skills, getting CPR-certified, and learning about possible healthcare careers. Then, through partnerships with UCSF Health, John Muir Health, and Kaiser Permanente, along with a network of over 160 medical professionals, students rotate through shadowing placements in the hospital, on the ambulance, and in community clinics for the remainder of the month.

Meet Blue, the low-cost, human-friendly robot designed for AI

Meet Blue, a new low-cost, human-friendly robot conceived and built by a team of researchers led by CS Prof. Pieter Abbeel, postdoc Stephen McKinley, and grad student David Gealy. Blue was designed to use recent advances in AI and deep reinforcement learning to master intricate human tasks, all while remaining affordable and safe enough that every artificial intelligence researcher — and eventually every home — could have one.  “AI has done a lot for existing robots, but we wanted to design a robot that is right for AI,” Abbeel said. “Existing robots are too expensive, not safe around humans and similarly not safe around themselves – if they learn through trial and error, they will easily break themselves. We wanted to create a new robot that is right for the AI age rather than for the high-precision, sub-millimeter, factory automation age.”

Largest, fastest array of microscopic ‘traffic cops’ for optical communications

Prof. Ming Wu, post-doc Kyungmok Kwon, and grad students Johannes Henriksson and Jianheng Luo (along with co-lead author Tae Joon Seok of the Gwangju Institute) have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers faster and more efficiently than ever.  The photonic switch is built with more than 50,000 microscopic “light switches” etched into a silicon wafer. Each light switch directs one of 240 tiny beams of light to either make a right turn when the switch is on, or to pass straight through when the switch is off. This optical “traffic cop” could one day revolutionize how information travels through data centers and high-performance supercomputers that are used for artificial intelligence and other data-intensive applications.

A Salute to Early Women in STEM at UC Berkeley

In celebration of Women's History Month, Sheila Humphreys, the EECS Emerita Director of Diversity, has published an essay in the EECS Newsletter titled "A Salute to Early Women in STEM at UC Berkeley."  This essay is the first part of a series of writings about the history of diversity in engineering at UC Berkeley, seen primarily through the lens of  Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.  It covers the first women researchers, faculty, and grad students in STEM at UC Berkeley including Agnes Morgan, Marian Diamond, Susan Graham, Avideh Zakhor, Lillian Gilbreth, and Kawthar Zaki.