News

Lucas Spangher brings musicians together for Ukraine benefit concert

CS graduate student Lucas Spangher (advisor: Costas Spanos) gathered musicians from all over the Bay Area to perform a benefit concert in support of Ukraine on March 13th.  Opera and gospel singers, violists, pianists and harpists, were among the more than one dozen volunteers to participate in the Benefit Concert for Humanitarian Aid for Ukraine at Herbst Hall in San Francisco.  Spangher, who plays the cello, reached out to other local musicians on social media to ask if anyone would be interested in participating in an informal, online musical performance in honor of Ukraine, and it expanded from there. “It turned into this amazing professional operation,” said Spangher, “which I think just speaks to the energy and communal desire to do something. This is more than just a fundraiser. It’s a political statement and a way to honor Ukraine’s amazing contributions to classical music that can’t be erased by a vicious autocrat.”  Spangher is a committed climate change activist whose research focuses on how to make artificial intelligence become more flexible for a transition to green energy.  All proceeds from the performance have been donated to Nova Ukraine.

Scott Shenker National Academy of Sciences

Scott Shenker wins 2022 Fiat Lux Faculty Award

CS Prof. Emeritus and Prof. in the Graduate School Scott Shenker has won the 2022 UC Berkeley Fiat Lux Faculty Award.  This achievement award, which is co-presented by the UC Berkeley Foundation and the Cal Alumni Association, recognizes a "faculty member whose extraordinary contributions go above and beyond the call of duty to advance the university’s philanthropic mission and transform its research, teaching, and programs."  Shenker, who is the Research Director of Extensible Internet at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI), is known for his research contributions in the areas of energy-efficient processor scheduling, resource sharing, and software-defined networking.  He is a leader in the software-defined networking (SDN) technology movement and a co-founder of the open-source non-profit Open Networking Foundation (ONF), which sets standards and promotes SDN in anticipation of problems that arise when cloud computing blurs distinctions between computers and networks.  Shenker is also known for his philanthropic support of the university, including a donation of $25M toward the construction the new Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) building last June.  The award will be presented at the Berkeley charter Gala on May 12th.

Kathy Yelick wins 2022 CRA Distinguished Service Award

EECS Prof. Katherine Yelick has won the 2022 CRA Distinguished Service Award.  This award recognizes "a person or organization that has made an outstanding service contribution" with a major impact "to the computing research community" in the areas of government, professional societies, publications, conferences, or leadership.  Yelick has been a professor in the department since 1991,  and was the Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).  She is known as the co-inventor of the UPC and Titanium languages and demonstrated their applicability through the use of novel runtime and compilation methods.  She also co-developed techniques for self-tuning numerical libraries.  She is the co-author of two books and more than 100 refereed technical papers on parallel languages, compilers, algorithms, libraries, architecture, and storage.

Black Women Matter: Arlene Cole Rhodes, Valerie Taylor and Melody Ivory

Three EECS alumnae are featured in a 150W Black Women Matter web page recognizing the legacies of Black women at Cal as part of the 2022 Black History Month celebrations.  The web page, which was put together by EECS Emerita Director of Diversity Sheila Humphreys, highlights 31 Cal pioneers whose lives spanned the past 120 years.  The EECS Department is represented by: Arlene Cole Rhodes (Ph.D. '89, advisor: S. Shankar Sastry), the first Black woman to earn an EE doctorate from Berkeley; 2020 EE Distinguished Alumna Valerie Taylor (M.S. '86 / Ph.D. '91, advisor: David G. Messerschmitt ), the first Black chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University; and Melody Ivory (M.S. '96/Ph.D. '01, advisor: Marti Hearst), the first Black woman to earn a CS doctorate in from Berkeley.

EECS Black History Month: Lee Julian Purnell (EE M.S. 1929)

Lee Julian Purnell is the first Black student who is known to have graduated from the EECS department. He was born in Washington, D.C. in 1896, graduated from Berkeley High in 1915, was a superb track athlete, and earned a B.A. from Cal in 1919.  He got his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at MIT in 1921, where he and another student were said to be the first pair of Black students to graduate from MIT in the same class together.  He received his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Berkeley in 1929, and eventually settled into a career at Howard University, where he served as the Dean of Engineering for 20 years.  Learn more about Lee Purnell in the EECS Newsletter.

Avishay Tal named 2022 Sloan Research Fellow in Computer Science

CS Assistant Prof. Avishay Tal has been selected as a 2022 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Computer Science.   This award recognizes outstanding early-career faculty for their "potential to revolutionize their fields of study."  Tal is a member of the Theory group;  his interests include computational complexity, analysis of boolean functions, circuit and formula lower bounds, query complexity, pseudorandomness, computational learning theory, quantum computing, combinatorics, and connections between algorithms and lower bounds.  He is among 4 winners from UC Berkeley representing the fields of CS, math, physics, and neuroscience.  Winners receive $75K, which may be spent over a two-year term to support their research.

Marti Hearst is named iSchool's new head of school

CS Prof. and alumna Marti Hearst (B.A. '85/M.S. '89/Ph.D. '94, advisor: Robert Wilensky) has been named the new head of school for UC Berkeley's School of Information (iSchool).   Hearst, who was the iSchool's first assistant professor in 1997, is taking over the position from CS Prof. Hany Farid.  She will manage the day-to-day operations of the unit, which is an affiliate of the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS),  and communicate its vision on and off campus.  Hearst is known for her work automating sentiment analysis and word sense disambiguation. She invented an algorithm known as “Hearst Patterns," which is used in commercial text mining operations, and developed a now commonly-used automatic text segmentation approach called TextTiling.   She will serve as head of school through June 30, 2023.

Berkeley CS students help build a database of police misconduct in California

Students in the Data Science Discovery Program are filling a gap in engineering resources to help journalists more easily sort through large stores of records for their research.  The Discovery Program, which is part of Berkeley's Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS), connects  around 200 undergraduates with hands-on, team-based data science research projects at Berkeley, government agencies, community groups, and entrepreneurial ventures.  Students have worked on projects like the SF Chronicle's air quality map, the Wall Street Journal's effort to analyze its source and topic diversity using natural processing language, and the California Reporting Project's police misconduct database. “I don’t know if we’d be able to do this without them,” said KQED data reporter Lisa Pickoff-White. “None of these newsrooms would be able to automate this work on their own.”

Aditya Parameswaran wins 2022 IIT Bombay Young Alumni Achievers Award

EECS Associate Prof. Aditya Parameswaran has been selected to receive the Young Alumni Achievers Award from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay.  This award "recognizes and celebrates the outstanding achievements of [IIT's] young alumni in their chosen field of endeavor."  Parameswaran, who has a joint appointment at the I School, synthesizes techniques from data systems and human-computer interaction to develop tools to simplify data science at scale.  His tools, which have been downloaded and employed by millions of users, empower "individuals and teams to leverage and make sense of their large datasets more easily, efficiently, and effectively."  These include the Lux library, an intelligent visualization recommendation system for very large data sets in dataframe workflows, and Modin, a scalable dataframe system which applies database and distributed systems ideas to help run dataframe workloads faster.  The award will be presented during the university's Institute Foundation Day Function on March 10, 2022.

Sergey Levine, Nilah Ioannidis, and Dorsa Sadigh awarded 2022 Okawa Research Grants

EECS Associate Prof. Sergey Levine, Assistant Prof. Nilah Ioannidis, and alumna Dorsa Sadigh have won 2022 Okawa Research Grants.  These grants recognize "studies and analyses in the fields of information and telecommunications." Levine is doing research on "Offline Reinforcement Learning: Robust and Reliable Decisions from Data," Ioannidis is working on "Genome-Scale Learning of Molecular Phenotypes for Personal Genome Interpretation," and Sadigh, who is now an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Stanford, is studying "Adaptive Human-Robot Interaction."  They comprise three of the seven U.S. recipients who were awarded $10K grants this year.