diversity

Nancy Amato is first woman to lead UI computer science department

CS alumna Nancy Amato (M.S. '88, advisor: Manuel Blum) has been chosen to lead the highly ranked University of Illinois Department of Computer Science — the first woman to hold that position.  She will oversee a fast-growing department that has 80 faculty members and more than 2,400 students, plus 700 online, and is ranked fifth in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.  As a professor at Texas A&M, Amato's research focused on motion planning in robotics, parallel algorithms and bio-informatics.  She led an influential group within the Computing Research Association (CRA) to bring more women into the field and runs an undergraduate summer research program that matches students from underrepresented groups with faculty members. She received the CRA Habermann Award in 2014 for her efforts to involve more women and underrepresented minorities in computing research.

Susan Eggers is first woman to receive ACM - IEEE CS Eckert-Mauchly Award

Susan Eggers (Ph.D. '89), the 2009 CS Distinguished Alumna, is the recipient of the 2018 ACM-IEEE CS Eckert-Mauchly Award--the first woman so honored in the award's 39 year history.  The award is administered jointly by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and is given for contributions to computer and digital systems architecture where the field of computer architecture is considered at present to encompass the combined hardware-software design and analysis of computing and digital systems.  Eggers, who is a professor at the University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, was cited for "outstanding contributions to simultaneous multithreaded processor architectures and multiprocessor sharing and coherency."  She made significant contributions to cache coherency protocols as well as other memory-related challenges in multiprocessor computers, and performed the first data-driven study of data sharing in shared-memory multiprocessors, which greatly enhanced the field’s understanding of both hardware and software coherency techniques.

The legacy of Margo Seltzer

CS alumna Margo I. Seltzer (Ph.D. '92, advisor: Michael Stonebraker) is the subject of a Harvard Crimson article celebrating her contributions to that institution.  Seltzer, who until this year had been a professor at Harvard and the director of the Center for Research on Computation and Society, is also the president of USENIX and an architect at Oracle.  She is moving to Vancouver to take part in Canada 150, a multi-million dollar federal research program at the University of British Columbia.  Seltzer founded a startup called Sleepycat Software in 1996 to develop and support “Berkeley DB,”  a high-performance software used to generate databases.  Across the arc of her career, Seltzer balanced teaching commitments with founding and running a startup, broke gender barriers while pushing for gender parity, and helped shape the rise of Harvard Computer Science. She was the first woman to serve as conductor of the Harvard University band and the second woman in Harvard history to earn tenure in the CS department.

Jacque Garcia graduates a champion

Graduating CS senior Jacque Garcia, the president of Cal Boxing, is the focus of a Berkeley News article titled "Longtime fighter graduates as a champion."  Garcia, who grew up in Compton and is known for her “mental toughness, determination, dedication and positive attitude,” won the 2018 132-pound National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) championship belt, an Outstanding Boxer Award, and a Cal Boxing women's third-place team award.  She was also both a Code2040 Fellow and CircleCI software engineering intern in 2017, and worked at the Hybrid Ecologies Lab in 2016 to help Ph.D. grad student Cesar Torres develop some features of a 2.5D Computer Aided Design (CAD) tool to reduce complexity of digital modeling by using grey-scale height maps.  Garcia credits the student organization Code the Change for her decision to eventually major in Computer Science. “Graduation is going to be very emotional,” says Garcia. “I didn’t start thinking about college until I was in the eighth grade. I didn’t know if I was going to go to college, I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it. It’s going to be a surreal moment. I can’t believe it’s happening.”

How Mary Ann Horton invented the email attachment, then revolutionized trans rights

CS alumna Mary Ann Horton (Ph.D. '81) is the subject of a Daily Beast article titled "How Mary Ann Horton Invented the Email Attachment, Then Revolutionized Trans Rights."  As a student, Horton contributed to Berkeley UNIX (BSD), including the vi editor and terminfo database, and created the first email attachment tool, uuencode.  She then became a pioneering transgender activist who, in the 1990s and 2000s, played a key role in encouraging American companies to add the categories of gender identity and gender expression to their non-discrimination policies—and to provide transgender health benefits.  It began when she encouraged her employer, Lucent, to become the first large company in the United States to include gender identity or expression in its non-discrimination policy.  “Getting Lucent to do it was all about me, but once Lucent did it, I thought, this could be for everybody,” Horton remembers. “My vision was to push the snowball, and build up that snowball, and get it bigger and bigger until it would roll down the hill by itself—until I didn’t have to push it any more.”

Andrea Goldsmith named ACM Athena Lecturer

2018 EE Distinguished Alumna Andrea Goldsmith (B.A. ’86/M.S. ’91/Ph.D. ’94) has been named the 2018-19 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Athena Lecturer for contributions to the theory and practice of adaptive wireless communications, and for the successful transfer of research to commercial technology.  Goldsmith, who is currently the Stephen Harris Professor in the School of Engineering at Stanford,  introduced innovative approaches to the design, analysis and fundamental performance limits of wireless systems and networks. The Athena Lecturer Award, which was initiated by the ACM Council on Women in Computing (ACM-W), celebrates women researchers who have made fundamental contributions to computer science. The award carries a cash prize of $25,000, with financial support provided by Google.

Berkeley boosts female computing grads

Assistant Teaching Prof. John DeNero and CS major Tammy Nguyen are featured in a Mercury News article titled "Forget tech’s bad bros: Stanford, Berkeley boost female computing grads."   Between 2010 and 2017, UC Berkeley doubled the percentage of women receiving degrees in CS, from 11% to 22%, which runs counter to a national trend in which the proportion of women receiving degrees in computer and information sciences dropped from a high of 37% in 1984 to about 18% in 2016.  DeNero talks about some of the hurdles women must overcome if they are interested in pursuing careers in computer science.  The problems facing women in the tech industry, brought to light by the "Me Too" movement, is a concern. “It comes up even on the first day of class,” he said. “The students are very keen to talk about it, understand it. They really want to know, ‘Are all companies the same? Is this something I’m going to see everywhere?'”  Berkeley has taken a number of steps to improve the representation of women in the field.  “We have invested a lot of time and energy in figuring out what our introductory curriculum should look like, how we teach our courses, and in particular what kind of support mechanisms can we put in place to make sure that somebody who wants to study computer science has a good chance of being successful,” he said.

Amal El-Ghazaly forges a path in higher education

EE postdoctoral fellow Amal El-Ghazaly, who works with the Nanoelectronics and Nanostructures Group, is featured in a Berkeley News article as one of the 25 scholars from Berkeley, Stanford, Caltech and UCLA who’ve won postdoctoral fellowships from the NSF-sponsored California Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP).  The alliance was formed to address the seemingly intractable ethnic underrepresentation in key STEM fields in the postdoctoral and faculty ranks at prestigious universities.  Aspiring professor El-Ghazaly, a hijab-wearing Muslim of African heritage, was often the only underrepresented minority student, and sometimes the only woman, in her specialized applied physics courses at CMU and Stanford.  The Berkeley-led Alliance will share its challenges and successes at the Pathways to a Diverse Professoriate conference on campus this week.

Teresa Meng (photo: EE Times)

Teresa Meng on winning the game in a male-dominated industry

EECS distinguished alumna Teresa Meng (M.S. '85/Ph.D. '88) is the subject of an article in the EE Times about a keynote presentation she recently gave at the  International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) on sexism in her profession.   Meng, who was the first female professor in electrical engineering at Stanford in 1988 (she retired in 2013) and also co-founded Atheros Communications (later acquired by Qualcomm), was named one of the top 10 entrepreneurs by Red Herring in 2001.    The title of her speech was “Winning the game in a male-dominated industry” and she said that she was initially very reluctant to speak because the subject was “just too painful.”  She discussed when and how gender discrimination happens, describing “unconscious” male behaviors that hurt women and discourage female engineers from pursuing higher positions in their organizations. She also discussed how women must pick their battles.  Her talk was nothing like what anyone in the audience would have expected in the semiconductor industry — especially at a highly technical conference like ISSCC, where only 2 percent of attendees are women.

A celebration of diversity in engineering and science featuring Gary May

The  Cal Alumni Association and the Black Alumni Club are hosting an event Celebrating Diversity in Engineering and Science at Cal on February 10, 2018.  It will honor the 50th anniversary of the Black Engineering and Science Student Association (BESSA) and the 30th anniversary of the Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students (BGESS) group at Berkeley, and will feature both alumni and current students.  The keynote speaker is EECS alumnus Gary S. May (M.S. '88 and Ph.D. '92), now the Chancellor of the University of California, Davis.  In addition to the evening event, BESSA and BGESS alumni are planning an afternoon symposium with panels of engineering alumni to discuss their careers in industry and academia with undergrad, graduate and high school students