2019 Sloan Fellowships: Moritz Hardt and Sergey Levine

Moritz Hardt and Sergey Levine win Sloan Research Fellowships

Assistant Profs. Moritz Hardt and Sergey Levine have been awarded 2019 Alfred O. Sloan Research Fellowships. They are among 126 early-career scholars who represent the most promising scientific researchers working today. Their achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders in the U.S. and Canada. Winners receive $70,000, which may be spent over a two-year term on any expense supportive of their research. Hardt and Levine were both selected in the Computer Science category. Hardt’s research aims to make the practice of machine learning more robust, reliable, and aligned with societal values. The goal of Levine’s research is to develop artificial intelligence systems that are flexible, general, and adaptable. “Sloan Research Fellows are the best young scientists working today,” said foundation president Adam Falk. “Sloan Fellows stand out for their creativity, for their hard work, for the importance of the issues they tackle, and the energy and innovation with which they tackle them.”



Rikky Muller receives NSF CAREER award

EE Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller is the recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award for her project titled "Intelligent, Closed-Loop Neural Interfaces."  The award, which is expected to total $500k, is a continuing  grant which has been approved on scientific / technical merit for the period of February 15, 2019 to January 31, 2024.  Muller will be a keynote speaker at the Berkeley Annual Research Symposium (BEARS) on Thursday.

Eli Yablonovitch wins 2019 OSA Frederic Ives Medal / Jarus W. Quinn Prize

EE Prof. Eli Yablonovitch has won the prestigious Frederic Ives Medal / Jarus W. Quinn Prize from the Optical Society of America (OSA).  It is the highest award presented by the OSA and recognizes overall distinction.  Yablonitch, along with Sanjeev John, founded the field of photonic crystals in 1987.  He and his team were the first to create a 3-dimensional structure that exhibited a full photonic bandgap, which has been named Yablonovite.  His seminal paper reporting inhibited spontaneous emission in photonic crystals is said to be among the most highly cited papers in physics and engineering.

Claire Tomlin elected to the NAE

EE alumna and Prof. Claire Tomlin (Ph.D. '98, adviser: Shankar Sastry) has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).  NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.  Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature" and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."  Tomlin was cited “For contributions to design tools for safety-focused control of cyberphysical systems.”

Ken Goldberg and Eric Brewer on AI, Automation and the Future of Work

CS Profs. Ken Goldberg and Eric Brewer appeared in a live NewRetirement podcast to discuss Artificial Intelligence, Robots, Automation and the Future of Work.  The interview covered the history of technological revolutions, what’s happening now with technology like self-driving cars, AI, robotics, and automation and how it may impact society, industries, companies and individuals. Their opinions about where we are today and ideas like the Singularity may surprise you.

Michael Stonebraker to deliver opening keynote at Data Summit

ACM A.M. Turing Award Laureate and database technology pioneer Prof. Emeritus Michael Stonebraker will deliver the opening keynote at Data Summit 2019, titled “Big Data, Technological Disruption, and the 800-Pound Gorilla in the Corner.”  Stonebraker was the main architect of the INGRES relational DBMS, and the object-relational DBMS, POSTGRES, developed at U.C. Berkeley. The Data Summit brings together corporations, government agencies, and public institutions to learn about the leading technologies and strategies for succeeding in this increasingly data-driven world.

Alexandre Bayen joins Mobility panel at World Economic Forum

EE Prof. Alexandre Bayen will be part of a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today titled "Meeting the Challenges of the New Mobility."  Bayen, who is the director of the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS), will discuss the societal impacts of the New Mobility, the massive ongoing transformation in how the world moves people, things, and data. The panel is hosted by the Oliver Wyman Forum.

The shutdown and Berkeley: Q&A with Vice Chancellor Randy Katz

EE Prof. Randy Katz, now the Vice Chancellor for Research at Berkeley, answers questions  about how the standoff over President Trump’s border wall is affecting UC Berkeley’s research enterprise so far, and what will happen if the shutdown continues much longer.  "If people decide to leave the field, the scientific brain trust, we will sacrifice our ability to be in the forefront of science and scholarship. Once we cede leadership in science, we will handicap our nation’s ability to stay ahead," he said.

Clever clumsiness: A self-taught walking robot

A group of researchers at UC Berkeley (including EE Prof. Sergey Levine, grad student Tuomas Haarnoja and undergraduate researcher Aurick Zhou) and Google Brain have used maximum-entropy reinforcement learning to make a quadrupedal robot teach itself to walk.   It taught iself through trial and error in a mere two hours before researchers introduced the machine to new environments, like inclines and obstacles, where it adapted with ease.

'Ambidextrous' robots could dramatically speed e-commerce

CS Prof. Ken Goldberg and members of the AUTOLAB including postdoc Jeffrey Mahler (Ph.D. '18), grad students Matthew Matl and Michael Danielczuk, and undergraduate researcher Vishal Satish, have published a paper in Science Robotics which presents new algorithms to compute robust robot pick points, enabling robot grasping of a diverse range of products without training.  They trained reward functions for a parallel-jaw gripper and a suction cup gripper on a two-armed robot, and found that their system cleared bins with up to 25 previously unseen objects at a rate of over 300 picks per hour with 95 percent reliability.