David Sontag named to GNS Healthcare Strategic Advisory Board

CS alumnus David Sontag (B.A. '05), now an assistant professor of EECS at MIT, has been appointed to the Strategic Advisory Board of GNS Healthcare, one of the world's leading precision medicine companies.  Sontag is also the Hermann L.F. von Helmholtz Career Development Professor in the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), and principal investigator in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT.  "GNS Healthcare's approach is at the forefront of machine learning, working to truly unlock the full potential of patient data to determine the best available therapy and treatment options. I look forward to working closely with the GNS team and the Strategic Advisory Board," said Sontag.

Illustration by John Cuneo for The Atlantic

Barbara Simon's fight for paper ballots

CS alumna Barbara Simons (Ph.D. '81) is the subject of an article in The Atlantic titled "The Computer Scientist Who Prefers Paper," which explores her conviction that there is only one safe voting technology: paper ballots.  Simons, a pioneer at IBM Research, spent years trying to warn the public of problems with electronic voting systems--which she claimed were shoddy and hackable  She remained resolute, despite heavy criticism and a great deal of political pressure, until Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election became public and perceptions about her changed.  “Many of the leading opponents of paperless voting machines were, and still are, computer scientists, because we understand the vulnerability of voting equipment in a way most election officials don’t," she said. "The problem with cybersecurity is that you have to protect against everything, but your opponent only has to find one vulnerability.”

Jinwen Xiao and the culture of Silicon Labs

EE alumna Jinwen Xiao (Ph.D. '03), now a senior director of engineering at Silicon Laboratories in Austin, Texas, is featured in a My Statesman article titled "Silicon Labs focuses on ‘mature, respectful’ workplace environment."  A computer chip design company, Silicon Labs ranks No. 1 among large employers in the American-Statesman’s 2017 Top Workplaces of Greater Austin project.  Xiao, who was born in China, now heads the 'Internet of Things' product development team of more than 40 people who come from 11 different countries.  The company places a priority on the intellectual development of its employees, providing a mentorship program and encouraging professional expansion.  It also actively fosters a culture of international inclusion and cooperation,  providing support and legal services for employees affected by the Muslim travel ban. "That is part of why this is a great place to work," Xiao says. "The company takes care of its people.”

Pramod Subramanyan and Rohit Sinha

"A Formal Foundation for Secure Remote Execution of Enclaves" wins Best Paper Award at ACM CCS 2017

A paper co-authored by postdoc Pramod Subramanyan, grad student Rohit Sinha, alumnus Ilia Lebedev (B.S. '10), alumnus and MIT Prof. Srinivas Devadas (M.S. '86/Ph.D. '88), and EECS Prof. Sanjit A. Seshia has won Best Paper Award at the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS).  The paper, A Formal Foundation for Secure Remote Execution of Enclaves, introduces a formal modeling and verification methodology for secure remote execution based on the notion of a trusted abstract platform.  CCS is the flagship annual conference of the Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control (SIGSAC) of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Sam Wood (left)

Sam Wood, Jim Welsh and the birth of KALX radio

Two EECS alumni were instrumental in the creation and establishment of KALX radio on campus in the 1960s.  Jim Welsh (B.S.’67), along with geology major Marshall Reed, started what was then known as Radio Kal in the basement of the Unit 2 dorm with a disposable collection of records, a couple mics, a cheap recorder and the semblance of a mixing board built into an old cigar box.  Sam Wood (B.S.’68) helped run midnight reconnaissance missions to salvage resistors, capacitors, tubes and transformers from various departments on campus, for use in constructing consoles, transmitters and other radio equipment.   “The rule was, the university wouldn’t let you do anything, but after 10 or 11 at night, everybody went home,” Wood says. “If wires somehow got into conduits, then nobody cared how they got there.”  The adventure is detailed in an article titled Berkeley sounds: The early days of KALX.

EECS Accel Scholars

Amit Kumar and Accel launch Accel Scholars EECS mentorship program

EECS alumnus Amit Kumar (B.S. '03) and the venture firm Accel are launching a mentorship program called Accel Scholars to support EECS undergraduates.  Accel will work with a select group of students over the course of a year, hosting networking dinners and also guaranteeing the students an internship at a portfolio company.  Kumar initiated the program because he felt there wasn’t enough career guidance for students at Berkeley and that venture firms that ignore the ecosystem are missing out.  Chair James Demmel says EECS is grateful for the opportunity to “partner with Accel and its network to provide a fast-track for an exceptionally talented and diverse cohort of undergraduates, who will benefit from mentorship by Accel but also by and from one another.”

Eric Schmidt to keynote HIMSS18

EECS alumnus Eric Schmidt (M.S. '79/Ph.D. '82) will deliver the opening keynote address at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference in March 2018.  Schmidt worked at Bell Labs and Xerox PARC before becoming president of Sun in the 1980s.  Over the next two decades, Schmidt  becamed the CEO of Novel and co-founded Google.  He is currently the Executive Chairman of Alphabet.  His keynote, titled "Technology for a healthier future: Modernization, machine learning and moonshots," will discuss how technological advancements such as cloud computing and machine learning are transforming healthcare.

(photo Tiberio Uricchio)

Caffe team wins Everingham Prize at ICCV 2017

The Caffe team researchers ('13 alumnus and current GSR Yangqing Jia, grad student Evan Shelhamer,  '17 alumnus Jeff Donahue, '15 alumnus Sergey Karayev, grad student Jonathan Long, former postdocs Ross Girshick and Sergio Guadarrama, and Prof. in Residence Trevor Darrell) have been awarded the Mark Everingham Prize at the International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV) 2017.  Caffe is a deep learning framework made with expression, speed, and modularity in mind,  developed by Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) and by community contributors. The Everingham Prize is bestowed by the IEEE technical committee on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (PAMI) and is given to individuals or groups "who have made a selfless contribution of significant benefit to other members of the computer vision community."  The Caffe team won "for providing an open-source deep learning framework that enabled the community to use, train and share deep convolutional neural networks. Caffe has had a huge impact, both academic and commercial. "

Bryan Catanzaro talks AI

EECS alumnus Bryan Catanzaro (Ph.D. '11) is interviewd by Byron Reese for episode 13 of his series Voices in AI.  Catanzaro, who is the head of Applied AI Research at NVIDIA, discusses sentience, transfer learning, speech recognition, autonomous vehicles, and economic growth.  "I like to think about artificial intelligence as making tools that can perform intellectual work.  Hopefully, those are useful tools that can help people be more productive in things that they need to do," he says.

OSA Honorary Member Amnon Yariv

Amnon Yariv named 2017 Honorary Member of the Optical Society

EE alumnus Amnon Yariv (B.S '54/M.S. '56/Ph.D. '58) has been named a 2017 Honorary Member of the Optical Society (OSA).  Honorary Membership is the most distinguished of all OSA Member categories and is awarded to individuals who have made unique, seminal contributions to the field of optics.  Yariv was elected for pioneering scientific and engineering contributions to photonics and quantum electronics that have profoundly impacted lightwave communications and the field of optics as a whole. His research has focused on creating the mathematical tools and building blocks underpinning guided wave optics, the backbone of today's optoelectronic technologies. This endeavor led to the proposal and demonstration of the distributed feedback laser -- the main light source and information carrier of internet traffic -- and started the field of optoelectronic integrated circuits.  Yariv, who is currently a professor at the California Institute of Technology, received the National Medal of Science in 2010.