News

Stuart Russell to lead new Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public

EECS Prof. Stuart Russell is slated to direct the future Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public, which aims to make ethics and social equity more central to scientific decision-making, and which will try to ensure that the public has a greater say in future scientific advances.  The new center will combine forces with a sister center at the University of Cambridge, UK, to connect scientists, ethicists, and the public, in necessary and intentional discussions about the potential impacts of scientific discoveries.  “In addition to answering fundamental questions about the ethics of science, the Kavli Center is going to create a generation of scientific leaders who have seen how other scientific disciplines grapple with ethical problems and who have real training in the philosophical analysis of these questions,” said Russell. “It’s not just about changing public policy, it’s about changing what it means to be a good scientist in every discipline that can have an impact on the public.”

Christopher Hunn and Antoine Davis win 2020/2021 Advising and Student Services Awards

The EECS Director of Undergraduate Student Instruction, Christopher Hunn, and the EECS Director of Undergraduate Affairs, Antoine Davis, have won 2020 and 2021 Advising and Student Services Awards.   These awards are presented by the UC Berkeley Council of Advising and Student Support to "recognize the positive and innovative impact our recipients have on student learning, engagement, and belonging on the Berkeley campus."   Hunn won an Equity Champion Award for coaching TAs, undergraduates (especially CS Scholars and CS Mentors), graduates, staff (including student services personnel), and faculty "with evidence-based practices that have increased student engagement, success, self-efficacy, and belonging."   Davis won an Outstanding Advising or Student Services Administrator, Director, or Manager Award for supporting  and strengthening his staff team and the EECS and CS undergraduate populations, particularly during the pandemic, with his unique blend of humor and calm positivity.  "His relaxed approach fosters an environment where we are able to engage in self-reflection and open-mindedness toward each other and our students."  The winners will be celebrated at a virtual ceremony on December 15th.

Tsu-Jae King Liu

Tsu-Jae King Liu says the U.S. must revitalize semiconductor education and training

EECS Prof. and dean of Engineering Tsu-Jae King Liu has written an opinion piece for the Mercury News in which she explains why "the country urgently needs to reinvest in semiconductor design and manufacturing, including the development of a highly trained workforce."  She argues that America's lack of a skilled semiconductor manufacturing workforce, in the face of a global semiconductor chip shortage, is a matter of national security because it leaves the country vulnerable to geopolitical instability. "Systems that we rely upon for communications, commerce, defense and more are in jeopardy because the United States has lost its leadership in semiconductor manufacturing over the past three decades."  She appeals to Congress to address the issue and says "we need to double the number of students trained in microelectronics graduating today from all U.S. colleges and universities."  This will require "universities across the nation to collaborate with each other and to partner with industry" to create a geographically-distributed American Semiconductor Academy "with participating schools sharing curricula, facilitating access to industry-leading software tools and coordinating hands-on training for students."

CDSS and Cal Performances present: "Place and Displacement: Bias in Our Algorithms and Society"

The Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) is excited to announce an upcoming event in collaboration with Cal Performances. On October 28, "Place and Displacement: Bias in Our Algorithms and Society" will feature Cal Artist-in-Residence Angélique Kidjo in conversation with CDSS Associate Provost Jennifer Chayes, EECS Assistant Professor Nika Haghtalab and Computer Science PhD Student Devin Guillory (advisor: Trevor Darrell). The group will discuss the intersection of artificial intelligence and art, computing tools' reflection of the biases of the people and data used to train them, and promising interventions that could make algorithms more just.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in person at Zellerbach Hall from 4:00 to 5:30 pm PST on Thursday, October 28. It will also be live-streamed. Registration is required and now open!

Stewart Russell selected as 2021 BBC Reith Lecturer

CS Prof. Stewart Russell has been selected as the 2021 BBC Reith Lecturer.  Considered among the most prestigious lecture series across all fields, Reith Lectures are delivered annually by leading authorites invited by the BBC "to advance public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest."   Russell will deliver four lectures this fall, held in four locations across the UK, on the subject of "Living With Artificial Intelligence." The series, which will be and broadcast on Radio 4 and the World Service as well as made available on BBC Sounds, will "explore the impact of AI on our lives and discuss how we can retain power over machines more powerful than ourselves."  The first lecture, titled "The Biggest Event in Human History," will be held in London and will cover the birth of AI; the second lecture, in Manchester, will cover "AI in Warfare;" the third, in Ediburgh, will cover "AI in the Economy;" and the final lecture, in Newcastle, is titled "AI: A Future for Humans?"  Russell, who is the Director of the Berkeley Center for Human-Compatible AI, has developed a new global seismic monitoring system for the nuclear-test-ban treaty and is currently working to ban lethal autonomous weapons.  His book "Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach" is the standard text in AI, used in 1500 universities in 135 countries.

Anca Dragan, Raluca Popa, and Thomas Courtade win 2020 EECS Teaching Awards

The 2019-20 EECS Teaching Awards recognize three members of our faculty whose extraordinary performances kept students focused and engaged during a particularly difficult year.  The CS Diane McEntyre Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Anca Dragan in the spirit of McEntyre who was know for her "dedication to teaching and her innovative programs for women in mathematics and computer science." Students said Dragan was "passionate, dedicated, inclusive, and enthusiastic," and "literally the most entertaining and helpful professor I’ve ever had." The CS Jim and Donna Gray Faculty Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching went to Raluca Ada Popa. She was commended by students for her passion, clarity, care, and enthusiasm, and was described as an "AMAZING" and entertaining lecturer who "encourages a lot of class discussion and gets us involved, even over zoom."   The EE Award for Outstanding Teaching, which recognizes innovation and excellence in curriculum and teaching methods, publication of quality textbooks, graduate and undergraduate advising, and personal inspiration of students, was presented to Thomas Courtade.  He was described by students as "a brilliant instructor" whose "ability to teach the fundamental core concepts of this content is incredible." He was also said to be "amazing when it comes to interacting with students. It is hard to believe how many people are in the class, because he makes it feel very personal."

EECS expands efforts to diversify professoriate by increasing retention of underrepresented undergraduates

The Diversifying LEAdership in the Professoriate (LEAP) Alliance (formerly called the FLIP Alliance), is one of the benefactors of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Computing and Information Technology (CMD-IT) to support the Broadening Participation in Computing Alliance (BPC-A).  UC Berkeley is a founding member of the LEAP Alliance, the goal of which is to increase diversity in the field of computing by expanding the number of professors from underrepresented communities at research Universities.  Diversifying the computing professoriate is critical to providing influential role models, shaping departmental programs and policies, and bringing diverse perspectives into research projects and programs.  As part of the first cohort, Berkeley has been partnering with 10 other institutions to focus on increasing the diversity of graduate student populations.  Thanks to their success, the new grant expands the Alliance to 4 cohorts, and Berkeley is now also part of Cohort 4, which is aimed at diversifying undergraduate student populations.  EECS representatives Prof. Armando Fox and Director of Diversity Audrey Sillers have started a mentoring program across institutions, participate in monthly cohort conference calls, attend many professional development events including two All Hands Meetings per year where cohort universities share best practices, and present what they have learned at the annual CMD-IT/ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference.

Tsu-Jae King Liu

Tsu-Jae King Liu wins 2021 IEEE EDS Education Award

EECS Prof. Tsu-Jae King Liu has been selected to receive the 2021 IEEE Electron Devices Society (EDS) Education Award.  This award is presented annually by EDS to honor "an individual who has made distinguished contributions to education within the field of interest of the Electron Devices Society."  Liu, who is currently the dean of Berkeley Engineering, was cited “For outstanding contributions to education in the field of electron devices and achievements on diversity and inclusion.”  She has been a strong advocate for fostering inclusion and respect for women and members of underrepresented minorities in engineering.  She was the first woman to Chair the EECS department (2014), the second woman to join Intel's board of directors (2016), and the first woman elected dean of the Berkeley College of Engineering (2018).  She won the Chang-Lin Tien Leadership in Education Award in 2020.   Liu is also renowned for her research into novel semiconductor devices, non-volatile memory devices, and M/NEMS technology for ultra-low power circuits.  She is probably best known for the development of polycrystalline silicon-germanium thin film technology for applications in integrated circuits and microsystems; and as the co-inventor of the three-dimensional FinFET transistor  which is the design that is used in all leading microprocessor chips today.

Sumit Gulwani wins Max Planck-Humboldt Medal

Sumit Gulwani (Ph.D. '05, advisor: George Necula), now a Partner Research Manager at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington, has been selected to receive the 2021 Max Planck-Humboldt Medal for "automatic programming and computational education."  Gulwani, who won the ACM SIGPLAN Doctoral Dissertation award and the MSR Ph.d. Fellowship while at Berkeley, is an expert in program analysis and artificial intelligence.  He shaped the field of program synthesis, which emerged around 2010, by developing algorithms that can efficiently generate computer programs from very few input-output examples, natural-language-based specification, or from just the code and data context. His work made it possible for non-programmers to program tedious, repetitive spreadsheet tasks, and enabled productivity improvements for data scientists and developers for data wrangling and software engineering tasks. Recently, Gulwani has also been using the tools of program synthesis for computer-aided education of pupils and students. Starting from the automatic correction of learners' work in programming education, he further evolved this line of work to detect misunderstandings and give learning feedback and grades, also in subjects like mathematics and language learning. He is also the inventor of the popular Flash Fill feature in Microsoft Excel.  The award will be presented during a ceremony in Berlin on November 3, 2022.

Kathy Yelick named UC Berkeley’s new vice chancellor for research

CS Prof. Katherine Yelick has been named UC Berkeley's next vice chancellor for research.  She will take over the role from EECS Prof. Randy Katz on January 1, 2022.  Yelick is an expert in the field of parallel computing and currently serves as executive associate dean in the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS).  “Kathy Yelick is one of the most talented leaders I have ever worked with — she listens, sees the big picture, and co-creates and implements phenomenal solutions,” said Jennifer Chayes, the CDSS Associate Provost. “I cannot imagine a better vice chancellor for research, and we at CDSS look forward to working with Kathy in her new role.” Yelick spent 11 years in leadership and management roles at Berkeley Lab (LBNL), where she oversaw a variety of initiatives, including the opening of new computing facility Shyh Wang Hall, the founding of the Berkeley Quantum collaboration, the formation of the lab’s machine learning for science initiative, and the launch of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project.  “UC Berkeley’s research community is uniquely positioned to tackle some of the world’s most important social and scientific problems, from climate change and public health to equity and social justice,” Yelick said. “I think it’s important to bring together diverse expertise and perspectives, and I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues across academic disciplines, from the humanities and social sciences to the physical and biological sciences, engineering, professional schools and beyond.”