NSF-IUSE awards Narges Nourozi $4M in research grants

Two proposals led by CS Assistant Teaching Professor Narges Nourozi have won $4M in funding from the National Science Foundation Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) and Directorate for STEM Education (EDU). The proposals, “Transforming Introductory Computer Science Instruction with an AI-Driven Classroom Assistant” and “CUE-P: Establishing Servingness in Computing through Baskin Engineering Excellence Scholars Program” have been awarded approximately $2M over four years, and $1.93M over five years, respectively. The first proposal, INSIGHT, is a collaboration between North Carolina State University and UC Berkeley focusing on an AI-driven classroom assistant that holds significant transformative potential for yielding a deeper understanding of how students learn computer science with AI-driven classroom assistants and producing a set of practical instructional support principles for coding-enriched classroom interactions. The second proposal is a CUE Pathways project, wherein researchers from the Universities of California collaborate with eight California community colleges to study the effects of operationalizing servingness and transfer pathways between two- and four-year institutions to increase persistence, knowledge attainment, belongingness, graduation, and post-graduation outcomes.


Venkatesan Guruswami wins 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship

CS Professor Venkatesan Guruswami has won the 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship for his research proposal on mathematical computer science titled, “Mathematical Structure and Efficient Algorithms:  The Polymorphic Gateway.” The fellowship is awarded by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation on the basis of "prior achievement and exceptional promise." Professor Guruswami is a Chancellor’s Professor and a senior scientist at the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing. “I’m really delighted and grateful to be chosen for this Fellowship, and honored to join its distinguished roster of past recipients,” said Guruswami.

Jelani Nelson receives ACM-SIGACT Distinguished Service Award

CS Professor Jelani Nelson has won the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group for Algorithms and Computation Theory (ACM-SIGACT) Distinguished Service Award. Nelson was cited “for outstanding contributions to broadening participation in computer science, and in theoretical computer science in particular.” Awarded annually, the SIGACT Distinguished Service Award is given to those who have made "substantial contributions to the Theoretical Computer Science community.” Nelson founded AddisCoder, a summer program that aims to introduce high school students in developing countries to the fundamentals of computational thinking. The program, which began in Ethiopia, has educated more than 500 students and has recently extended to Jamaica. Nelson also co-founded the David Harold Blackwell Summer Research Institute, whose internship opportunities serve undergraduates across the U.S. with the goal of increasing African American students that pursue graduate studies in mathematical sciences.

Left to right: Phoebe Cheng, Manager Civil/Structural Engineering, BART; EECS Chair Claire Tomlin; Nikhila Pai, Sr. Manager of On Call Professional Service Agreements, BART; (photo: EECS)

Berkeley EECS and BART celebrate Women's History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, Berkeley EECS and BART worked together to Embrace Equity in STEM. Over the course of 50 years, both organizations have strived to be engines of societal change and social mobility, and they continue to do so today: BART, by providing fast, reliable transportation to the public; Berkeley EECS through its mission to educate leaders, create knowledge, and serve society. The World Economic Forum has estimated that only 20% of engineering graduates are women, and women of color represent only 2% of all engineering professionals. Women are particularly underrepresented in leadership roles, comprising 24% in technology and 16% in infrastructure. To bridge the gap, Berkeley EECS is committed to promoting access to education and careers in STEM for women and girls. BART is a vital part of the transportation infrastructure in the Bay Area, and it plays a key role in ensuring that everyone has access to education and impactful careers in STEM. EECS Chair Claire Tomlin served as a special guest and ambassador for women in engineering, and participated in a panel discussion with BART engineers and Berkeley Engineering alumnae to promote early access to education for young women aspiring to make a greater impact on society. “It’s important that there are women role-models and people you can relate to,” said Professor Tomlin. “The number of women in engineering is still too low and I think we should be striving for a percentage of women that’s representative of the population.”

(Photo by Michael Ball)

Berkeley EECS leads strong showing at SIGCSE

Berkeley EECS led a strong showing at the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Technical Symposium. SIGCSE, held last week in Toronto, Canada, is the premier venue for innovations in CS education and pedagogy. The event boasts attendance of over 1000 computer scientists from around the world, representing CS education research in all levels of CS teaching, including K-12, higher education and professional education. This year, EECS faculty and students contributed four papers, two posters, two workshops, and two panels, led by faculty members such as Michael Ball, Armando Fox, Dan Garcia, Peyrin Kao, Narges Norouzi, Gireeja Ranade, and Lisa Yan. Professor Ranade and her group presented their work on inclusive group formation. Dan Garcia’s presentation, “A’s for All” detailed how Berkeley EECS is pivoting toward mastery learning. Professor Fox and graduate student Victor Huang presented their use of a “climate-first lens” to train first-time TAs in CS teaching techniques. “I'm proud to be among such a high-powered group that is advancing the state of the art in the theory and practice of CS pedagogy,” said Fox.


EECS Faculty to explore implications of ChatGPT in new AI lecture series

EECS Faculty will headline a new AI lecture series to explore the “paradigm shift” that ChatGPT and other large language models (LLMs) have catalyzed. CS Professors Jitendra Malik, Stuart Russell and Michael Jordan are among the seven speakers scheduled this spring to address the sensation that is ChatGPT and other related LLMs. CS Professor Ken Goldberg, who organized the lecture series on behalf of Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research (BAIR), said, “Something changed very dramatically with the performance of ChatGPT, compared with previous large language models, and everyone, including experts, is asking, ‘What does it mean? Where do we go from here?’” The series will also feature John Schulman (Ph.D. ‘16; advisor: Pieter Abbeel), a co-founder of OpenAI and the primary architect of ChatGPT. “Everyone wants to hear from the experts,” Goldberg said. “There are so many misconceptions out there. In the series, we’ll hear from those who have been working in the field for many years who can provide valuable perspectives on the importance of ChatGPT.”

(Photo by Keegan Houser)

Joshua Hug wins 2023 UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award

Professor Joshua Hug has won the University of California, Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award. Presented by the Academic Senate, the Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA) is considered UC Berkeley’s most prestigious award for teaching. The DTA recognizes individual faculty “for sustained excellence in teaching.” Recipients are among the brightest teaching stars on campus, widely recognized for their inspiring and transformational teaching. The highly selective, multi-phase nomination process seeks teachers who incite intellectual curiosity and whose teaching has a life-long impact. Only 223 faculty have received the award since its inception in 1959, including several from Berkeley EECS. Hug is known for teaching CS 61B, an introductory computer science course on data structures that regularly enrolls over 1500 students each spring. DTA  winners are frequently called upon by the campus community to provide a voice on issues related to teaching. They serve on forums, panels, and committees involving teaching issues, and they are advocates for excellence in teaching at Berkeley.


University College Dublin names EECS alumna as president

EECS alumna Orla Feely is the first woman to be named President of University College Dublin (UCD). Feely (M.S. ’90, Ph.D. ‘92 EECS, advisor: Leon O. Chua ) will lead UCD for a ten-year term beginning in May. Feely, a Professor of Electronic Engineering, is currently the Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact at UCD. At Berkeley, her Ph.D. thesis won the David J. Sakrison Memorial Prize for outstanding and innovative research, and she also received the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award. Feely’s research interests are in nonlinear circuits and systems. She is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Engineers Ireland, the Irish Academy of Engineering, and an IEEE Fellow.


Bin Yu wins 2023 COPSS Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship

The Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) has selected Bin Yu, Professor of EECS and Statistics, for the 2023 Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship (DAAL). Formerly known as the R. A. Fisher Award and Lectureship, the DAAL recognizes meritorious achievement and scholarship in statistical science and recognizes the highly significant impact of statistical methods on scientific investigations. She will deliver the DAAL Lecture at JSM in 2023 on veridical data science. Yu’s research focuses on practice, algorithm, and theory of statistical machine learning, interpretable machine learning, and causal inference. Her group is engaged in interdisciplinary research with scientists from genomics, neuroscience, and precision medicine. She and her group have developed the predictability, computability, and stability (PCS) framework for veridical data science toward responsible, reliable, and transparent data analysis and decision-making.


Jessy Lin and Abhishek Shetty win 2023 Apple Scholars in AI/ML PhD fellowships

Two EECS graduate students, Jessy Lin (advisors: Anca Dragan and Dan Klein) and Abhishek Shetty (advisor: Nika Haghtalab) have been named 2023 recipients of the Apple Scholars in AI/ML PhD fellowship. This fellowship recognizes graduate and postgraduate students in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Apple Scholars are selected based on “innovative research, record as thought leaders and collaborators, and commitment to advancing their respective fields.” Jessy Lin’s research is focused on using language as a medium to build agents that can collaborate and interact with humans. Abhishek Shetty’s research is broadly interested in theoretical computer science and machine learning, understanding how learning theory, complexity theory, and probability interact with each other. Apple Scholars receive funding to support their research, and mentorship with an Apple researcher in their field.