News

Campus Reopening Notice

Starting June 16th, vaccinated EECS faculty, staff, and students can voluntarily return to their offices, labs and other research spaces in Cory and Soda Halls if they follow the procedures outlined in the EECS Safety Manual.  Building restrictions for non-affiliated collaborators, event attendees, and visitors will continue but be loosened over time. Cory and Soda Halls will open during the first week in August.  We are not hosting events or activities until we receive more clarity about regulatory requirements and are able to resume full operations. Most employees will return to campus on July 12th, and in-person instruction will resume for the Fall semester on August 25th, unless otherwise specified by campus. Please continue to check the University Coronavirus Updates and Resources for latest information.

Leslie Field to participate in "Reflections on Arctic Ice" webinar

EE alumna Leslie Field (M.S. '88/Ph.D. '91, advisor: Richard White), who is the founder and CTO of the Arctic Ice Project and an adjunct lecturer at Sanford, will be a co-panelist in a webinar titled "Reflections on Arctic Ice: A special webinar with Dr. Peter Wadhams."  Wadhams, a professor emeritus of Ocean Physics at Cambridge and the author of “A Farewell to Ice,”  has made more than 50 polar expeditions and recently appeared in the documentary “Ice on Fire” with Leonardo DiCaprio.   Field was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. from the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC).  The event will be on April 20th at 12 pm PST and is free, but registration is required.

Maryann Simmons and Hayley Iben win Academy Awards

CS alumnae Maryann Simmons (B.A. / M.S./ Ph.D. '01, advisor: Carlo Séquin) and Hayley Iben (M.S. '05/Ph.D. '07, advisor: James O'Brien) have won 2020 Technical Achievement Awards (SciTech Oscars) from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for hair simulation systems.

Simmons is now a senior staff software engineer and the technical lead for Hair & Cloth at Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS).  She was part of the team responsible for the WDAS Hair Simulation System, which the citation describes as "a robust, predictable, fast and highly art-directable system built on the mathematics of discrete elastic rods. This has provided Disney artists the flexibility to manipulate hair in hyper-realistic ways to create the strong silhouettes required for character animation and has enabled a wide range of complex hairstyles in animated feature films." According to The Hollywood Reporter, the WDAS System was "used in animated features such as Tangled, to manage Rapunzel’s ultra-long waves."  While at Berkeley, Simmons was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Golden Key Honor Society.

Iben, who is now the director of engineering at Pixar Animation Studios, was part of the team responsible for the Taz Hair Simulation System.  The citation describes Taz as "a robust, predictable and efficient mass-spring hair simulation system with novel formulations of hair shape, bending springs and hair-to-hair collisions. It has enabled Pixar artists to bring to life animated digital characters with a wide variety of stylized hair, from straight to wavy to curly."  While at Berkeley, Iben was president of Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (WiCSE) from 2004-2007, and a member CSGSA.

Anne-Louise Radimsky has passsed away

CS alumna Anne-Louise Guichard Radimsky (M.S. '67/Ph.D. 1973, advisor: Philip Spira), one of the first women to earn an EECS doctorate from Berkeley, died in July 2020 at the age of 79.  She was born in France during WWII and earned a B.S. in systems theory with a specialization in avionics from the École Nationale Superieure de l’Aeronautique in 1963.  She spent three years working as an aerospace engineer at the Centre d’Études et de Rechershes en Automatisme, and taught systems theory to engineers in both Paris and Spain, before earning a scholarship to pursue graduate studies at Berkeley.  She founded the Foreign Student Association at Berkeley and met her husband, Jan, while still a student.  Radimsky was the first woman hired to the computer science faculty at UC Davis.  She transferred to California State University, Sacramento, six years later, where she spent the remainder of her 30-year career.   She was a Senior Member of the IEEE and Vice-Chair of the Sacramento chapter of ACM.  She spent 20 years as a program evaluator and later a commissioner of the executive committee for the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Groundbreaking EECS alumnae honored during Black History Month

Three amazing EECS alumnae are featured on the Berkeley 150W website in celebration of Black History Month:  Arlene Cole-Rhodes (Ph.D. '89, advisor: Shankar Sastry), the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Berkeley; Melody Ivory (M.S. '96/Ph.D. '01, advisor: Marti Hearst), the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in Computer Science from Berkeley; and Valerie Taylor (Ph.D. '92, advisor: David Messerschmitt), the first Black Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Cole-Rhodes was born in Sierra Leone and moved to England to earn her B.S. in Applied Mathematics at the University of Warwick, and an M.S. in Control Engineering from Cambridge.  She is currently a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the associate dean of Graduate Studies and Research in the School of Engineering, at Morgan State University, an Historically Black University in Maryland. 

Ivory earned her B.S. in Computer Science from Purdue, where she was an inaugural Bill and Melinda Gates Scholar.  After Berkeley, she earned an M.B.A. in Operations and Marketing from The Wharton School and spent a number of years as a product manager at GE and Google. She is currently a founder and Technologist at Thrivafy, a professional development platform focusing on Black, Indigenous, and Latinx women in tech.   She is a keynote speaker at the 2021 Women in Tech Symposium, which will be hosted by CITRIS at UC Berkeley in March.

Taylor also earned her B.S. at Purdue, in CEE, followed by an M.S in EE.  As a graduate student at Berkeley, she co-founded the Summer Undergraduate Program in Engineering Research at Berkeley (SUPERB).  She became a professor at Northwestern before joining Texas A&M in 2003, and is currently the director of the MCS Division of Argonne National Laboratory.  She was named Berkeley EE Distinguished Alumna in 2020.

Sheila Humphreys, who authored these profiles, will be publishing an essay on “Early Scholars of Color at Berkeley” later this year.

Scott Aaronson, Manuel Blum, Shafi Goldwasser and Stuart Russell among Top 20 Influential Computer Scientists

CS alumnus Scott Aaronson (Ph.D. '04, advisor: Umesh Vazirani) ranked #4, Prof. Emeritus Manuel Blum ranked #11, alumna and Prof. Shafi Goldwasser (M.S. '81/Ph.D. '84, advisor: Manuel Blum) ranked #12, and Prof. Stuart Russell ranked #14 on Academic Influence's list of the Top Influential Computer Scientists from 2010 to 2020.  Scholars are ranked using a methodology that includes the number of citations, as well as their web presence,  to determine their impact and influence over society in the past 10 years: "Some have had revolutionary ideas, some may have climbed by popularity, but all are academicians primarily working in computer science."  Aaronson, now at the University of Texas, Austin, is one of the world's leading experts in quantum computing; Blum, now at Carnegie Mellon, works on the theoretical underpinnings of programming and algorithms, notably computational complexity theory, cryptography, and program verification; Goldwasser is an expert in computational complexity theory, cryptography, and number theory; and Russell, the author of the most popular textbook on Artificial Intelligence, is an expert in machine learning and reasoning, and a major proponent of provably beneficial AI.

Cloud startup Databricks raises $1 billion in Series G funding

Databricks, a cloud startup founded by CS Adjunct Assistant Prof. Ali Ghodsi, CS Prof. Scott Shenker, CS Prof. Ion Stoica, and alumni Andrew Konwinski (M.S. '09/Ph.D. 12, advisor: Randy Katz), Reynold Xin (Ph.D. '13, advisor: Ion Stoica), Patrick Wendell (M.S. '13, advisor: Ion Stoica), and Matei Zaharia (Ph.D. '13, advisors: Scott Shenker & Ion Stoica), has received $1 billion in a Series G funding round.  Franklin Templeton led the round and now values the company at $28 billion.  Amazon Web Services, CapitalG, the growth equity arm of Google parent Alphabet, and Salesforce Ventures are backing Databricks for the first time, while Microsoft joins a group of existing investors including BlackRock, Coatue, T. Rowe Price and Tiger Global.  Ghodsi, who is CEO of the company, says Databricks plans to use the funds to accelerate its international presence. “This lets us really hit the gas and go aggressive in these big markets. It’s almost like starting the company all over again,” he says.  Databricks grew out of the AMPLab project and is built on top of Apache Spark, an open-source analytics tool developed at Berkeley.  The company provides data analytics and AI tools to businesses.  It has grown more than 75% year-over-year, with the majority of its revenue coming from enterprises like Comcast, Credit Suisse, Starbucks and T-Mobile, who use it as a "data lake house"--a place to store structured and unstructured data, then layer business intelligence or machine-learning tools easily on top.

Melody Ivory to speak at Women in Tech Symposium

EECS alumna Melody Ivory (M.S. 1996/Ph.D. 2001, advisor: Marti Hearst), the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in Computer Science at UC Berkeley, has been chosen as the keynote speaker who will close the 5th Annual Women in Tech Symposium, hosted at Berkeley on March 12, 2021.  This year's symposium has the theme "The New Era in Human-Computer Interaction, and will be sponsored by CITRIS and the Banatao Institute."  Ivory has been a Google innovation facilitator, a consumer electronics and software product manager, and is now a founder and Technologist at Thrivafy, a professional development platform focusing on Black, Indigenous, and Latinx women in tech.  The symposium will kick-off with a fireside chat between EECS Prof. and Dean of Berkeley Engineering, Tsu-Jae King Liu, and UCSC Computational Media Prof. Leila Takayama, and will close with a talk by Ivory titled, “Sustainable Disruption: Ensuring an #InclusiveHCI Future Is Not Enough.”

New wearable device detects intended hand gestures before they're made

A team of researchers, including EECS graduate students Ali Moin, Andy Zhou, Alisha Menon, George Alexandrov, Jonathan Ting and Yasser Khan, Profs. Ana Arias and Jan Rabaey, postdocs Abbas Rahimi and Natasha Yamamoto, visiting scholar Simone Benatti, and BWRC research engineer Fred Burghardt, have created a new flexible armband that combines wearable biosensors with artificial intelligence software to help recognize what hand gesture a person intends to make based on electrical signal patterns in the forearm.  The device, which was described in a paper published in Nature Electronics in December, can read the electrical signals at 64 different points on the forearm.  These signals are then fed into an electrical chip, which is programmed with an AI algorithm capable of associating these signal patterns in the forearm with 21 specific hand gestures, including a thumbs-up, a fist, a flat hand, holding up individual fingers and counting numbers. The device paves the way for better prosthetic control and seamless interaction with electronic devices.

Rediet Abebe and Shafi Goldwasser to speak at Women in Data Science 2021

Computer Science Assistant Prof. Rediet Abebe and Prof. and alumna Shafi Goldwasser (M.S. '81/Ph.D. '84, advisor: Manuel Blum) are slated to speak at the inaugural  24-hour virtual Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference, hosted by Stanford University on International Women's Day, March 8th.  WiDS first took shape at Stanford in 2015 as a way to inspire and educate data scientists worldwide, regardless of gender, and to support women in the field.  Abebe, who began at Berkeley this spring, is a specialist in artificial intelligence and algorithms, with a focus on equity and justice concerns.  Goldwasser, currently the Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, is a pioneer in probabilistic encryption, interactive zero knowledge protocols, elliptic curve primality and combinatorial property testings, and hardness of approximation proofs for combinatorial problems.   Andrea Goldsmith (B.A. '86/M.S. '91/Ph.D. '94, advisor: Pravin Varaiya), the 2018 Berkeley EE Distinguished Alumna and Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University, and Meredith Lee, the Berkeley CDSS Chief Technical Advisor, will also be speaking.  The WiDS Berkeley regional event will follow the WiDS Worldwide event, featuring additional speakers on March 9-10.   Register for the WiDS conference now!

Randy Katz to step down as Vice Chancellor for Research

EECS Prof. and alumnus Randy Katz (M.S. '78 / Ph.D. '80) has announced that he will be retiring in June 2021, and will step down as UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Research.  During his tenure as vice chancellor, Katz demonstrated a deep commitment to research excellence at Berkeley, helping to expand the annual research funding budget from $710M to over $800M by vigorously supporting major, multi-year, federally and industrially funded research centers. Philanthropic support for research on campus has also greatly expanded under his guidance with the creation of the Weill Neurohub and Bakar BioEnginuity Hub.   He established the position of a central chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer and encouraged new approaches to managing the University’s intellectual property assets, thereby generating substantial campus revenue.  He oversaw the repatriation of sacred belongings to the Native American community, and revitalized the leadership of campus Organized Research Units (ORUs); leading the campus through complex but orderly ramp-down and ramp-up of research activities in the face of major disruptions, including Public Safety Power Shutdowns, air quality emergencies, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  He also helped lead the International Engagement Policy Task Force to foster international collaboration while safeguarding the campus against undue foreign influence.  During his time in the EECS department, Katz oversaw 52  Ph.D. dissertations and has been honored with the campus Distinguished Teach Award.