News

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.

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.”

Rediet Abebe and Jelani Nelson to participate in U-M Africa Week

CS Prof. Jelani Nelson and Assistant Prof. Rediet Abebe will be participating on a panel about the "Role of Computing in Africa's Economic Future" at the University of Michigan Africa Week conference on Tuesday, February 16th, from 9:30 am to 10:45 (EST).  U-M Africa Week brings together "thought leaders in higher education, industry, and government for a series of discussions on the key issues and opportunities that will shape Africa in the coming decades."  Nelson is a member of the UC Berkeley Theory Group and is the founder and co-organizer of AddisCoder, a free intensive 4-week summer program which introduces Ethiopian high schoolers to programming and algorithms.  Abebe studies artificial intelligence and algorithms, with a focus on equity and justice concerns.  She is co-founder and co-organizer of the multi-institutional, interdisciplinary research initiative Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG).  The conference will run from February 15 to 19, 2021.

Gloria Tumushabe offers young Ugandan women a chance to code during the pandemic

EECS 5th Year Master's student Gloria Tumushabe is the subject of a Berkeley News article titled "COVID Stories: The chance to teach young Ugandan women to code."  A MasterCard Foundation Scholar from Uganda, Tumushabe had always wanted to teach.   When the Coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, she realized that many Ugandan schools were closed, remote learning opportunities would be scarce, and there would be even fewer programs to motivate and empower young women to learn code in her native country.  So she created a pilot program called Afro Femm Coders, which targeted promising 19- and 20-year-olds who had finished high school but whose educational opportunities had evaporated because of the pandemic.   Overcoming challenges, like a shortage of laptops and poor Wi-Fi connectivity, and drafting other graduate students to help as tutors, she began teaching 13 young women the skills that would allow them to create computer software, apps and websites, free from the intimidation and danger that they would usually have to face.

Fung Feature: Liaowang Zou

Liaowang (Zoey) Zou, an EECS Master of Engineering (MEng) candidate with a concentration in Data Science and Systems, is the subject of a Coleman Fung Institute interview.  Zou, who grew up in China, describes how she became interested in STEM as a child, what drove her to EECS, her experience working as a consultant for a tech company after graduating from Duke, why she decided to come back to school, and her capstone project on detecting incipient disease using artificial intelligence (AI) models.

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!

Ken and Blooma Goldberg show you "How to Train Your Robot"

A 15-minute video version of the children's book "How to Train Your Robot," written by CS Prof. Ken Goldberg and his daughter, Blooma, has been released by the CITRIS Banatao Institute.  Aimed  at children ages six to eleven, it tells the story of a group of 4th graders who decide to build a robot to clean their workshop.  Designed to inspire girls and members of other under-represented groups to explore engineering, robotics, and coding for themselves, it's the perfect introduction for kids who are curious about robots and want to know more about how they work.    The video utilizes animatics with story narration, and is subtitled in English, Spanish, Japanese, Hindi, and simplified Chinese.   Co-written by Ashley Chase and illustrated by Dave Clegg, the book was published with support from the NSF and the the Lawrence Hall of Science in 2019.

Jelani Nelson shrinks Big Data and expands CS learning opportunities

Since computers cannot store unlimited amounts of data, it is important to be able to quickly extract patterns in that data without having to remember it in real time. CS Prof. Jelani Nelson, who is profiled in a Q&A session for Quanta magazine, has been expanding the theoretical possibilities for low-memory streaming algorithms using a technique called sketching, which compresses big data sets into smaller components that can be stored using less memory and analyzed quickly.  He has used this technique to help devise the best possible algorithm for monitoring things like repeat IP addresses accessing a server.  “The design space is just so broad that it’s fun to see what you can come up with,” he said.  Nelson also founded AddisCoder, a free summer program which has taught coding and computer science to over 500 high school students in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  "A lot of the students have never been outside of their town, or their region," he said.  "So AddisCoder is the first time they’re seeing kids from all over the country, and then they’re meeting instructors from all over the world.  It’s very eye-opening for them."

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.

150W: Bin Yu's "most successful failure"

EECS Prof. Bin Yu is the subject of a 150W profile by the Department of Statistics, where she holds a joint appointment. Yu found refuge from the tumult of Mao Tse Tung's Cultural Revolution in the orderly tables of a math textbook.  Although she placed first in the math section of the graduate school entrance exam, she failed to be accepted as a pupil by the professor she hoped to work with at Peking University because she was a woman.  As a result of this difficult rejection, she switched to studying probability and statistics, where a new world of new opportunities opened to her.  The profile covers Bin Yu's journey from her childhood in China to her days as a graduate student at UC Berkeley,  a career in both academia and industry on the east coast, her return to Berkeley as a professor, and her important contributions to the field of data science.  150W is the year-long celebration of 150 years of women at UC Berkeley.