News

Eden McEwen awarded SPIE 2020 Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship

Eden McEwen, a fourth year undergraduate double-majoring in Computer Science and Physics, has been awarded a 2020 Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship by the international Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), for her potential contributions to the field of optics and photonics.  McEwen's research interests focus on predictive control and hardware design of adaptive optics systems for ground based astronomical observing in the optical and near-infrared. She has worked with groups at Berkeley, Keck II Observatory, NASA JPL, Caltech, and the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy. McEwen is a 2020 Goldwater Scholar and hopes to continue her studies in optics with a graduate degree in astrophysics.

Meena Jagadeesan named 2020 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow

Incoming CS graduate student Meena Jagadeesan has won a 2020 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.  The fellowship program honors the contributions of immigrants and children of immigrants to the United States by investing in the education of a select group of new Americans who are "poised to make significant contributions to US society, culture or their academic field." Jagadeesan, whose parents emigrated from India, is a senior in a joint B.A./M.A. program at Harvard University where she is studying algorithmic questions, especially those arising in machine learning and economics.  She has won a CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher award and one of her papers, which involved the study of a dimensionality reduction scheme, was selected as an oral presentation at the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS).  Each Fellow will receive up to $90K in financial support over two years.

Michael McCoyd uses polio history to shed light on Coronavirus vaccine in NY Times Op-Ed

CS graduate student Michael McCoyd (advisor: David Wagner) has co-authored an op-ed piece in the New York Times titled "What to Expect When a Coronavirus Vaccine Finally Arrives," which offers sobering lessons from the history of the polio vaccine. It took over 60 years from the onset of the first polio epidemic for a safe and effective vaccine to be developed and attempts to hasten the process often led to tragedy. McCoyd, who is in the Secure Computing group, says the article arose from a class he took in the J-school to learn more about fighting disinformation titled "Science Denial: Role of the Media."  When the J-school shifted focus to COVID-19 coverage, Prof. Elena Conis, an historian of vaccination, suggested story ideas for the students to pitch.  With their pitch accepted by the New York Times, McCoyd and classmate Jessie Moravek, a graduate student in environmental science, wrote what became the op-ed with Prof. Conis.

Daniel Fremont wins ACM SIGBED Dissertation Award

Freshly-graduate CS Ph.D. student Daniel J. Fremont (advisor: Sanjit Seshia) has won the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Embedded Systems (SIGBED) Paul Caspi Memorial Dissertation Award for his thesis on "Algorithmic Improvisation."  The award, which was established in 2013, recognizes outstanding doctoral dissertations that significantly advance the state of the art in the science of embedded systems.  Fremont's thesis proposes a theory of algorithmic improvisation to enable the correct-by-construction synthesis of randomized systems, and explores its applications to safe autonomy.

Students create online "Coronavirus Tracker" to keep average Americans informed

CS major Jason (XiangJun) Li and a few friends have developed a website designed to provide clear, reliable, up-to-date numbers and trends on the COVID-19 outbreak "for average Americans," particularly those on mobile phones.  LiveCoronaUpdates.org, which was launched last Tuesday, uses data released by the World Health Organization and official government websites, and provides "the simplest and most intuitive dashboard for people to quickly understand the trends and assess risks."  The site includes domestic and global numbers of patients confirmed/recovered/dead, simple graphics and tables, a headline feed, and text alerts using data that is updated every 3 hours.

Accel Scholars offers industry-oriented opportunities for undergrads

The Accel Scholars program, a joint venture between Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel and the EECS Department, was created to empower undergraduate engineering and computer science students by providing access to Silicon Valley leadership, personalized mentorship, and an industry-relevant curriculum that covers topics not generally taught in class— like how to grow a career, how to build a professional network, and how to raise money to start a company.  Accel Scholars is open to all Berkeley undergraduates who have demonstrated leadership, excellence in their pursuits, and/or a deep passion for a particular area of their discipline.  Apply by visiting the Accel Scholars page on the EECS website until April 5, 2020.

Keeping classified information secret in a world of quantum computing

Computer Science and Global Studies double major, Jake Tibbetts, has published an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists titled "Keeping classified information secret in a world of quantum computing."  Tibbetts, who is a research assistant at the LBNL Center for Global Security Research and a member of the Berkeley Nuclear Policy Working Group, argues that instead of worrying about winning the quantum supremacy race against China, U.S. policy makers and scholars should shift their focus to a more urgent national security problem: How to maintain the long-term security of secret information secured by existing cryptographic protections, which will fail against an attack by a future quantum computer.  Some possible avenues include deploying honeypots to misdirect and waste the resources of entities attempting to steal classified information; reducing the deployment time for new encryption schemes; and triaging cryptographic updates to systems that communicate and store sensitive and classified information.

EECS Remembers Jason Rossilli

The Department is sorry to share the news that EECS major Jason Rossilli passed away at his home late last week.  Jason was close with many of his peers, staff and faculty in the department.  We are deeply saddened by his loss.   News of the passing of a member of our community will no doubt impact all of us. Talking to a professional counselor can be very helpful.  Students may reach a Tang Center Counselor at 510-642-9494, or may visit them at 2222 Bancroft Way for drop-in counseling between 10am-4:30pm. ESS also has three dedicated psychologists available with drop-in counseling hours in 241 Bechtel on Tuesdays 2-4pm, and Wednesdays and Thursdays 10am-12pm.  Faculty and staff may reach a counselor through the campus Employee Assistance Program: (510) 643-7754.

Xinyun Chen wins 2020 Facebook Fellowship

Third year CS graduate student Xinyun Chen (advisor: Dawn Song) has been awarded a 2020 Facebook Fellowship.  Chen was recognized in the Machine Learning category for her work in neural program synthesis and adversarial machine learning.  Her goal is to increase the accessibility of programming to general users, and enhance the security and trustworthiness of machine learning models.   Chen has interned at both Facebook AI Research and Google Brain.

After Parkland shooting, Kai Koerber fights for mental health resources in schools

CS-intended major Kai Koerber, a survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and now an advocate for mental health education, is the subject of an interview in an episode of Fiat Vox, the Berkeley News podcast.  Koerber was a high school senior in February 2018 when he huddled in a closet to escape the gunman, a former student, who killed 17 people in one of the deadliest school shootings in the country.  He decided to take a stand and speak authentically about gun violence and mental health, contributing the perspective of a young black person living in the South.  That April, he founded Societal Reform Corporation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting mental health in schools by implementing programs that teach students of all ages to “mitigate emotions, relax, learn and grow as human beings.”