Hani Gomez, Ph.D.: Computing Pedagogy at the Nexus of Technology and Social Justice

EECS alumna Hani Gomez (Ph.D. '20, advisor: Kris Pister) is the subject of a Berkeley Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) profile titled "Hani Gomez, Ph.D.: Computing Pedagogy at the Nexus of Technology and Social Justice."  Gomez was born in Bolivia and earned her B.S. in EE at the University of South Carolina before coming to Berkeley for her graduate studies.  She has merged social justice and technology into a post-doc research position at Berkeley, split between EECS and the Human Contexts and Ethics (HCE) program in CDSS.  Gomez helped develop the course CS 194-100 EECS for All: Social Justice in EECS last spring, was one of three presenters in a June HCE workshop titled "Towards Social Justice in the Data Science Classroom," and serves on the EECS Anti-Racism Committee.  She says the preoccupation with perfectionism at Berkeley "doesn’t leave room [for you] to learn from your mistakes...You need to give yourself room to learn or unlearn, to grow and relearn.”

Yang You receives honorable mention for ACM SIGHPC Dissertation Award

EECS alumnus Yang You (Ph.D. '20, advisor: James Demmel)  was named as one of two honorable mentions for the 2020 ACM Special Interest Group in High Performance Computing (SIGHPC) Dissertation Award.  You was selected for developing LARS (Layer-wise Adaptive Rate Scaling) and LAMB (Layer-wise Adaptive Moments for Batch training) to accelerate machine learning on HPC platforms. His thesis, “Fast and Accurate Machine Learning on Distributed Systems and Supercomputers,” focuses on improving the speed and accuracy of Machine Learning training to optimize the use of parallel programming on supercomputers.  You made the Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 Asia list for Healthcare and Science in April and is now a Presidential Young Professor of Computer Science at the National University of Singapore.

Sam Kumar

Sam Kumar wins OSDI Jay Lepreau Best Paper Award

CS graduate student Sam Kumar (advisors: David Culler and Raluca Ada Popa) has won the Jay Lepreau Best Paper Award at the 15th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI) for "MAGE: Nearly Zero-Cost Virtual Memory for Secure Computation."   The OSDI, which brings together "professionals from academic and industrial backgrounds in a premier forum for discussing the design, implementation, and implications of systems software," selects three best papers each year after a double-blind review.  Co-authored by Prof. David Culler and Associate Prof. Raluca Ada Popa, the paper introduces an execution engine for secure computation that efficiently runs computations that do not fit in memory.  It demonstrates that in many cases, one can run secure computations that do not fit in memory at nearly the same speed as if the underlying machines had unbounded physical memory to fit the entire computation.  Kumar works in the Buildings, Energy, and Transportation Systems (BETS) research group in the RISE Lab.

Deanna Gelosi wins Best Full Paper Award at ACM IDC 2021

"PlushPal: Storytelling with Interactive Plush Toys and Machine Learning," co-authored by CS Masters student Deanna Gelosi (advisor: Dan Garcia), has won the Best Full Paper Award at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Interaction Design for Children (IDC) conference 2021.  IDC is "the premier international conference for researchers, educators and practitioners to share the latest research findings, innovative methodologies and new technologies in the areas of inclusive child-centered design, learning and interaction."  The paper, which was presented in the "Physical Computing for Learning" conference session, describes PlushPal, "a web-based design tool for children to make plush toys interactive with machine learning (ML). With PlushPal, children attach micro:bit hardware to stuffed animals, design custom gestures for their toy, and build gesture-recognition ML models to trigger their own sounds."  It creates "a novel design space for children to express their ideas using gesture, as well as a description of observed debugging practices, building on efforts to support children using ML to enhance creative play."  Gelosi's degree will be in the field of Human-Computer Interaction and New Media, and her research interests include creativity support tools, traditional craft and computing technologies, digital fabrication, and equity in STEAM.  She is a member of the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM), the Berkeley Institute of Design (BID), and the Tinkering Studio--an R&D lab in the San Francisco Exploratorium.

New AI system allows legged robots to navigate unfamiliar terrain in real time

A new AI system, Rapid Motor Adaptation (RMA), enhances the ability of legged robots, without prior experience or calibration, to adapt to, and traverse, unfamiliar terrain in real time.  A test robot figured out how to walk on sand, mud, and tall grass, as well as piles of dirt, pebbles, and cement, in fractions of a second.  The project is part of an industry-academic collaboration with the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) group and the Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) lab that includes CS Prof. Jitendra Malik as Principal Investigator, his grad student Ashish Kumar as lead author, and alumnus Deepak Pathak (Ph.D. 2019, advisors: Trevor Darrell and Alexei Efros), now an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon, among others.  RMA combines a base policy algorithm that uses reinforcement learning to teach the robot how to control its body, with an adaptation module that teaches the robot how to react based on how its body moves when it interacts with a new environment.  “Computer simulations are unlikely to capture everything,” said Kumar. “Our RMA-enabled robot shows strong adaptation performance to previously unseen environments and learns this adaptation entirely by interacting with its surroundings and learning from experience. That is new.”  RMA's base policy and adaptation module run asynchronously and at different frequencies so that it can operate reliably on a small onboard computer.  

Yang "Linda" Huang launches new novel: My Good Son

EECS Instructional Support Group (ISG) systems administrator Yang "Linda" Huang, has just published her third book, My Good Son (University of New Orleans Press, May 2021).  The novel, described as "layered, evocative and engaging" by Ms Magazine, had been selected for the University of New Orleans (UNO) Publishing Lab Prize "for the best unpublished novel or short story collection" by authors from around the world.  Like Huang's previous work, "My Good Son" focuses on the generational and cultural complexities of post-Tiananmen Chinese family life.  The story centers on a traditional Chinese father striving for the success of his son, and explores "the parallels and differences of American and Chinese cultures―father-son relationships, familial expectations, sexuality, social mobility, and privilege."  "My Good Son" was reviewed by both the  New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.  Huang, who was featured in the Chinese Literature Podcast on June 4th, will be participating in a Virtual Launch at Booksmith on June 9th, where she will engage in a conversation with author Kaitlin Solimine.

Tiny wireless implant detects oxygen deep within the body

CS Prof. and Chan Zuckerberg Biohub investigator Michel Maharbiz is the senior author of a paper in Nature Biotechnology titled "Monitoring deep-tissue oxygenation with a millimeter-scale ultrasonic implant," which describes a tiny wireless implant that can provide real-time measurements of tissue oxygen levels deep underneath the skin. The device, which is smaller than the average ladybug and powered by ultrasound waves, could help doctors monitor the health of transplanted organs or tissue and provide an early warning of potential transplant failure.  “It’s very difficult to measure things deep inside the body,” said Maharbiz. “The device demonstrates how, using ultrasound technology coupled with very clever integrated circuit design, you can create sophisticated implants that go very deep into tissue to take data from organs.”

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.

Deep learning helps robots grasp and move objects with ease

CS Prof. Ken Goldberg is the co-author of a study published in Science Robotics which describes the creation of a new artificial intelligence software that gives robots the speed and skill to grasp and smoothly move objects, making it feasible for them to soon assist humans in warehouse environments.  He and postdoc Jeffrey Ichnowski had previously created a Grasp-Optimized Motion Planner that could compute both how a robot should pick up an object and how it should move to transfer the object from one location to another, but the motions it generated were jerky.  Then they, along with EECS graduate student Yahav Avigal and undergraduate (3rd year MS) student Vishal Satish, integrated a deep learning neural network into the motion planner, cutting the average computation time from 29 seconds to 80 milliseconds, or less than one-tenth of a second.  Goldberg predicts that, with this and other advances in robotic technology, robots could be assisting in warehouse environments in the next few years.

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.