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.

Ambidextrous wins SVR 'Good Robot' Excellence Award

Ambidextrous, a company co-founded in 2018 by CS Prof. Ken Goldberg, his graduate student Jeffrey Mahler (CS Ph.D. '18), and AutoLab postdocs (and ME alumni) Stephen McKinley (M.S. '14/Ph.D. '16) and David Gealy (B.S. '15), has won the inaugural Silicon Valley Robotics (SVR) ‘Good Robot’ Innovation and Overall Excellence Industry Award.  Ambidextrous utilizes an AI-enhanced operating system, Dexterity Network (Dex-Net) 4.0, that empowers versatile robots for automated e-commerce order fulfillment by allowing them to learn to pick, scan, and pack a wide variety of items in just a few hours.  This universal picking (UP) technology has enabled new levels of robotic flexibility, reliability, and accuracy.

Jake Tibbetts wins Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ 2020 Leonard M. Rieser Award

EECS grad student and alumnus Jake Tibbetts (B.S. EECS/Global Studies '20) has won the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ 2020 Leonard M. Rieser Award.   Winners of the award have published essays in the Bulletin's Voices of Tomorrow column, and are selected by the Bulletin’s editorial team for recognition as "outstanding emerging science and security experts passionate about advancing peace and security in our time."  Tibbetts received the award for his article “Keeping classified information secret in a world of quantum computing,” published in the Bulletin on February 11, 2020.  “In his piece, Jake Tibbetts accomplished the kind of deep, thoughtful, and well-crafted journalism that is the Bulletin's hallmark," said editor-in-chief John Mecklin. "Quantum computing is a complex field; many articles about it are full of strange exaggerations and tangled prose. Tibbetts' piece, on the other hand, is an exemplar of clarity and precision and genuinely worthy of the Rieser Award.”  Tibbetts is a fellow at the NNSA-supported Nuclear Science and Security Consortium, and has previously worked as a research assistant at the LBNL Center for Global Security Research.  He has made contributions to the Nuclear Policy Working Group and the Project on Nuclear Gaming at Cal, and made the EECS news last year for his involvement in creating the online three-player experimental wargame "SIGNAL," which was named the Best Student Game of 2019 by the Serious Games Showcase and Challenge (SGS&C).  The Rieser Award comes with a $1K prize.

LOGiCS project receives $8.4M DARPA grant

Learning-Based Oracle-Guided Compositional Symbiotic Design of CPS (LOGiCS), a project led by Prof. Sanjit Seshia with a team that includes Profs. Prabal Dutta, Björn Hartmann, Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, Claire Tomlin, and Shankar Sastry, as well as alumni Ankur Mehta (EECS Ph.D. '12, advisor: Kris Pister) and Daniel Fremont (CS Ph.D. '20, advisor: Sanjit Seshia), has been awarded an $8.4M Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) grant as part of their Symbiotic Design of Cyber-Physical Systems (SDCPS) program.  CPS has applications not only for DARPA missions but also in areas such as agriculture, environmental science, civil engineering, healthcare, and transportation. SDCPS is a four-year program which aims to "develop AI-based approaches that partner with human intelligence to perform 'correct-by-construction' design for cyber-physical systems, which integrate computation with physical processes."  LOGiCS takes a novel approach that blends AI and machine learning with guidance from human and computational oracles to perform compositional design of CPS such as autonomous vehicles that operate on the ground, in the air and in water to achieve complex missions.  “Our primary role is to develop algorithms, formalisms and software for use in the design of CPS,” said Seshia. “These techniques allow designers to represent large, complex design spaces; efficiently search those spaces for safe, high-performance designs; and compose multiple components spanning very different domains — structural, mechanical, electrical and computational.”

EECS 150W: Cecilia Aragon

2013's CS Distinguished Alumna, Cecilia Aragon (M.S. '87/Ph.D. '04, advisors: Shankar Sastry and Marti Hearst), the first Latina pilot on the United States Unlimited Aerobatic Team, and the first Latina full professor at the University of Washington, is the subject of an EECS 150W profile by Sheila Humphreys.  The child of immigrants, Aragon dreamed of one day becoming a professor.  By the time she had earned her Master's degree , however, her self-confidence had taken a beating from years of racist and sexist antagonism, and she needed to take some time off. She learned to fly, joined the US Unlimited Aerobatic Team, and helped bring home a world championship medal.  She returned to Berkeley invigorated, and became an expert in human-centered data science.  She currently holds multiple appointments at the University of Washington, remains actively engaged in efforts to support women and other underrepresented groups in computing, and has recently published a memoir.   Learn more about Cecilia's journey.

Dawn Song wins 2020 ACM SIGSAC Outstanding Innovation Award

CS Prof. and alumna Dawn Song (Ph.D. '02, advisor: Doug Tygar) has won the 2020 ACM Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control (SIGSAC) Outstanding Innovation Award.  This award recognizes "outstanding and innovative technical contributions to the field of computer and communication security that have had lasting impact in furthering or understanding the theory and/or development of commercial systems."  Song was cited "for contributions to systems and software security, in particular, dynamic taint analysis for vulnerability discovery and malware detection."  She pioneered the BitBlaze Binary Analysis Infrastructure, a unified binary program analysis platform used to provide novel solutions to computer security problems, including automatic vulnerability discovery and defense, in-depth malware analysis, and automatic extraction of security models for analysis and verification.

Ali Niknejad wins 2020 SIA University Research Award

EECS alumnus and Prof. Ali Niknejad (M.S. '97/Ph.D. '00, advisor: Robert Meyer) has won the 2020 Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) University Research Award.  This award recognizes researchers in both technology and design who have made “a lifetime of great impact to the semiconductor industry.”  Niknejad was cited for “noteworthy achievements that have advanced analog, RF, and mm-wave circuit design and modeling, which serve as the foundation of 5G+ technologies.”  Stanford ME Prof. Kenneth Goodson also won the award this year.  “Research is the engine of innovation in the semiconductor industry, enabling breakthroughs that power our economy and help solve society’s great challenges,” said John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO. “The work of Drs. Goodson and Niknejad has greatly advanced chip technology and helped keep America at the leading edge of innovation.”  Niknejad, who previously received the 2012 ASEE Frederick Emmons Terman Award for his textbook on electromagnetics and RF integrated circuits, will accept the SIA award during the 2020 SIA Leadership Forum and Award Celebration on November 19th.

"Extreme MRI" chosen as ISMRM Reproducible Research pick

"Extreme MRI: Large‐scale volumetric dynamic imaging from continuous non‐gated acquisitions,” a paper by EECS alumnus Frank Ong (B.S. '13, Ph.D. '18) and his advisor, Prof. Miki Lustig, has been chosen as October's Reproducible Research pick by the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM).  The paper, in which the researchers attempt to reconstruct a large-scale dynamic image dataset while pushing reconstruction resolution to the limit, was chosen "because, in addition to sharing their code, the authors also shared a demo of their work in a Google Colab notebook."  Lustig and Ong, now a research engineer at Stanford, participated in a Q&A in which they discussed how they became interested in MRI, what makes Extreme MRI "extreme," the culture and value of open science, and why Lustig's grad school paper on compressed sensing became the most cited paper in MRM.  ISMRM is an international nonprofit association that promotes research development in the field of magnetic resonance in medicine to help facilitate continuing education in the field.

Mike Stonebraker wins 2020 C&C Prize

EECS Prof. Emeritus Michael Stonebraker has won the prestigious NEC Computers and Communications (C&C) Prize "For Pioneering Contributions to Relational Database Systems." The prize is awarded "to distinguished persons in recognition of outstanding contributions to research and development and/or pioneering work in the fields of semiconductors, computers, and/or telecommunications and in their integrated technologies."  In the early 1970's, Stonebraker and Prof. Eugene Wong began researching Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS), which culminated in the creation of the Interactive Graphics and Retrieval System (INGRES), a practical and efficient implementation of the relational model running on Unix-based DEC machines.  It included a number of key ideas still widely used today, including B-trees, primary-copy replication, the query rewrite approach to views and integrity constraints, and the idea of rules/triggers for integrity checking in an RDBMS.  Stonebraker, Wong, and Prof. Larry Rowe, founded a startup called Relational Technology, Inc. (renamed Ingres Corporation), which they sold to Computer Associates in the early 1990's for $311M.  Stonebraker's student, Robert Epstein (Ph.D. '80), founded the startup Sybase, which created the code used as a basis for the Microsoft SQL Server.  Stonebraker also created Postgres in the late 1980's, which made it easier for programmers to modify or add to the optimizer, query language, runtime, and indexing frameworks.  It broadened the commercial database market by improving both database programmability and performance, making it possible to push large portions of a number of applications inside the database, including geographic information systems and time series processing.  Stonebraker retired from Berkeley in 2000 to found more companies and become an adjunct professor at MIT.  His achievements have been recognized with an IEEE John von Neumann Medal in 2005, ACM A.M. Turing Award in 2014, and ACM SIGMOD Systems Award in 2015.

Dorsa Sadigh wins 2020 IEEE TCCPS Early Career Award

EECS alumna Dorsa Sadigh (BS '12 / PhD '17, advisors: Shankar Sastry and Sanjit Seshia) has been recognized with the IEEE Technical Committee on Cyber-Physical Systems (TCCPS) Early Career Award ‘‘for contributions to the theory, design, and implementation of human cyber-physical systems.’’ She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Departments of both Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University.  Her research interests lie at the intersection of robotics, machine learning, and control theory, and she is currently working on developing efficient algorithms for safe, reliable, and adaptive human-robot and generally multi-agent interactions.