Unfinished bronze bust of Joseph Gier

Help Us Honor a Forgotten Hero

We need your help!  An effort is underway to restore the legacy of Berkeley EE Prof. Joseph Gier to the campus community. Gier, who was the first African American professor to earn tenure at the University of California, taught and ran a lab in Cory Hall between 1939 and 1958.  He held eight patents, ran a company that produced a variety of instruments to measure and harness solar radiation, and presented a paper at the first-ever international conference on solar energy. Raised in Oakland by a single mother who worked as a domestic, Gier earned two degrees at Berkeley before becoming a lecturer.  He remained at Berkeley for almost his entire career and was honored for his work as a civil rights activist. Yet despite being the first tenured Black professor to teach in a STEM field at a top tier, primarily white university in America, Joseph Gier disappeared from our record books until four years ago. We are asking the EECS community to come together to help us give this extraordinary man the recognition he deserves. Donations to the Joseph Gier Memorial Fund will sponsor a statue of Gier, created by Oakland artist Dana King, to be unveiled in the Blum Hall courtyard on September 20th.  Please help us correct an historical oversight and restore Gier to his rightful place in the Berkeley narrative!


NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg interviewed on The Robot Brains Podcast

NASA astronaut and EECS alumnus Warren “Woody” Hoburg (M.S.’11, Ph.D.’13 EECS) was interviewed by The Robot Brains Podcast while aboard the International Space Station (ISS). CS Professor Pieter Abbeel, who is the brains behind the podcast as well as Woody’s Ph.D. advisor, interviewed Woody about life on the ISS, the scientific experiments being conducted in the low-orbit space station, living in a weightless environment, and the promising impact ISS research could have on humanity. “As a young kid, I thought being an astronaut would be the coolest job. I had no idea how to achieve that goal. It seemed far too improbable of a goal to set my heart on. But I could pursue things I found interesting and challenging and pursue passions. You enabled one of those… I can’t thank you enough for your open-mindedness. I’m so lucky and blessed to have this opportunity.”


UC Regents vote to establish College of Computing, Data Science, and Society

The UC Board of Regents today voted to establish UC Berkeley’s College of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS), the campus’s first new college in more than 50 years. The vote is the result of a three-year process to transform the Division of Computing, Data Science and Society into a college, which, in its new organizational structure, will be able to more effectively form new programs and partnerships, support instruction and research and foster identity and community among faculty, students and alumni. The college includes the Data Science Undergraduate Studies program, the Department of Statistics, the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, the Center for Computational Biology and the Bakar Institute of Digital Materials for the Planet. CDSS shares the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences with the College of Engineering, the Social Science Data Lab (D-Lab) with the Social Sciences division, and the Computational Precision Health program with UC San Francisco (UCSF). “We are thrilled to announce a new college at Berkeley that connects our excellent research and education in computing, data science and statistics with the many data-intensive disciplines across our campus,” said Chancellor Christ. “Infusing the power of data science across multiple disciplines, from basic and applied sciences to the arts and humanities, will help us to fully realize its potential to benefit society, help address our world’s most intractable problems, and achieve our most visionary goals. At Berkeley, we have the opportunity and responsibility to educate data science students from diverse backgrounds to become the ethical leaders we need in private industry, the public service sector, and education.”


Shafi Goldwasser named Fellow of the Royal Society

CS Professor Shafi Goldwasser has been elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences. Goldwasser joins a cohort of eighty researchers, innovators and communicators from around the world as the newest Fellows of the Royal Society. Fellows are selected “for their substantial contributions to the advancement of science … ” Goldwasser is known for her seminal work in cryptography, for which she won the Turing Award in 2012. Foreign Members of the Royal Society join the ranks of Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Lise Meitner, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and Dorothy Hodgkin.

(Photo: Sheila Humphreys)

9th Annual Berkeley-Stanford meetup celebrates the 45th anniversary of WiCSE

The 9th Annual Berkeley-Stanford Women in EECS research meetup took place on Saturday, April 29th in the Wozniak Lounge, Soda Hall. The meetup offers all female-identifying, transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming graduate students a chance to learn about each other’s research and to network with alums from industry and academia. The daylong event featured a panel of faculty from both Berkeley and Stanford, as well as recent alums in industry. Throughout the day graduate students presented their research highlights. Stanford EE Assistant Professor Dorsa Sadigh (EECS Ph.D. ‘17), gave a keynote speech. The meetup marked the 45th anniversary of Berkeley’s Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (WiCSE). Professor Susan Graham, the first woman appointed to the CS faculty in 1971, shared remarks on the history and value of WiCSE. “What a wonderful group of students!" said Graham. "I was impressed with the brief research talks, and with the conversations I had."


EECS Alumna Leslie Field featured in The New Yorker

EECS Alumna Leslie Field (Ph.D. ‘91, M.S. ‘89) was featured in The New Yorker, highlighting a novel approach to combating one of the most proximate effects of climate change: the melting of polar ice caps and mountain glaciers. In work formalized in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, Field and her colleagues applied a thin layer of glass microspheres on top of a frozen lake and demonstrated that such materials can slow the melting of ice over the thawing season by absorbing additional solar radiation. These methods proposed by Field and promoted by her non-profit organization, Ice911, aim to address the near-term effects of climate change by delaying melting ice and therefore sea level rise, knowing “that their approach [is] not a substitute for the larger undertaking of cutting climate pollution to near-zero. … ” The article further raised probing and vexing questions about the costs, benefits, and complex moral calculus of this and other proposed large-scale geoengineering projects aimed at the climate crisis, such as whether those efforts may unfairly burden indigenous communities in the Arctic or inadvertently deprioritize other environmental concerns brought on by introducing new substances into delicate ecosystems. “Action is risky, but so is inaction; geoengineering highlights the tension between speed and safety […] meanwhile, the climate crisis will grow more urgent with every day that passes—until, one day, the melting of the cryosphere makes our questions moot.”

Chancellor Christ, Dean Liu and others breaking ground with shovels at the new site of the Engineering Center
(Berkeley Engineering photo by Adam Lau)

COE celebrates groundbreaking of new Engineering Center

The College of Engineering held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Engineering Center on April 21. The new building, which is scheduled for completion in 2025, will be a hub for student collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The building will serve as a space for students across different disciplines and perspectives to connect, learn from each other, and build community. Thus far, 85% of the funds required to complete the project have been raised through the support of the Engineering Advisory board and key benefactors. The ceremony was attended by hundreds, including faculty, staff and students, and featured remarks by Dean Liu and Chancellor Christ. “We need to provide intellectual and actual physical space for engineers to become entrepreneurs, for climate scientists to partner with public health experts, and for computer scientists to work with legal scholars,” said Chancellor Christ. “This will be a place of possibility where, each year, thousands of engineering students and their peers from across the campus will converge, hear diverse perspectives, and skills will be melded, multiplied and brought to bear on the biggest challenges of our day, from climate change to global health to misinformation.”

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.”


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.”


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.