Clinical research coordinator Max Dougherty connects a neural data port in Ann’s head to the speech neuroprosthesis system as part of a study led by Dr. Ed Chang at UCSF.

Berkeley EECS pioneers AI brain implant to restore speech

A team of researchers from UCSF and Berkeley EECS have developed an implantable AI-powered device that can translate brain signals into modulated speech and facial expressions. The device, a multimodal speech prosthesis, and digital avatar, was developed to help a woman who had lost the ability to speak due to a stroke. The results have the potential to help countless others who are unable to speak due to paralysis or disease. The breakthrough study, published in the journal Nature, was led by UCSF neurosurgeon Edward Chang, EE Assistant Professor Gopala Anumanchipalli and Ph.D. student Kaylo Littlejohn. “This study heavily uses tools that we developed here at Berkeley, which in turn are inspired by the neuroscientific insights from UCSF,” said Gopala. “This is why Kaylo is such a key liaison between the engineering and the science and the medicine — he’s both involved in developing these tools and also deploying them in a clinical setting. I could not see this happening anywhere else but somewhere that is the best in engineering and the best in medicine, on the bleeding edge of research.”

Book pages folded over so that they form into the shape of a heart. Light is peaking through the heart shaped space in between the pages.
(Photo: UC Berkeley Public Affairs)

AI-dating app co-founded by Berkeley CS Students featured on "The Today Show"

Charis Zhang, Oliver Johansson, and Tobias Worledge, three Berkeley CS undergraduates, have co-founded RIZZ!, an AI-dating app that uses AI to generate witty and charming messages. The app, which was featured on “The Today Show,” has helped users drastically reduce the time between chatting online and meeting in person. “Traditionally it might take you a week, but with RIZZ!, it might take two to three days to get a date,” said Zhang.

Photo of Vivek Nair, left, and photo of Dawn Song, right.

EECS researchers explore unprecedented privacy risks of VR

An article produced by the College of Computing, Data Science, and Society highlighted the increasingly frought landscape of user privacy in the emerging world of Virtual Reality (VR) devices. The article cites two papers published by faculty, students, and visitors affiliated with the Berkeley Center for Responsible, Decentralized Intelligence. Led by CS Ph.D student Vivek Nair and Professor Dawn Song, the research showed that users of such devices can be identified using just minutes of their head and hand movements. Movement data, which is collected and shared with companies and other players to fuel these worlds, can be used to infer dozens of details from age to disability status. One paper demonstrates that body movements are as singular and reliable an identifier as fingerprints, which was accepted for publication at the USENIX Security Symposium. Another found that use of headset data could accurately identify or infer more than 25 characteristics, including location, age and height, which will be published for the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium. “We've done an extensive job of proving that there is a privacy risk here and that it is a different kind of privacy risk than what we have seen on the web,” Nair said. “These kinds of approaches for how to either transform the data or control who has access to it, that's going to be our main focus moving forward." Berkeley RDI is a multi-disciplinary initiative aimed at advancing the science, technology and education of decentralization and empowering a responsible digital economy. This work is part of the center’s Metaverse security and privacy research effort.


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.”

(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."

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.”


Berkeley EECS graduate programs lead US News Rankings

The U.S. News & World Report ranked both the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science graduate programs at Berkeley EECS among the top three graduate programs in the nation for 2023. Computer Science is ranked #1, tied with MIT and Stanford. Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering are ranked #2, tied with Stanford. The magazine based its rankings on responses from 202 engineering schools across the country, including data from fall 2022 and early 2023. This year, U.S. News included non-responders from the 220 schools surveyed, so long as they reported enough data to be eligible in 2022.

(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.


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.

BESSA board members Bridget Agyare, Farhiya Ali, Jesus Wilkins, Mialy Rasetarinera, Megane Tchatchouang, and Laila Walker at the anniversary event.
BESSA board members Bridget Agyare, Farhiya Ali, Jesus Wilkins, Mialy Rasetarinera, Megane Tchatchouang, and Laila Walker. (Photo: Rhett Jones Jr. Photography)

BESSA, BGESS celebrate milestone anniversaries

The Black Engineering and Science Student Association (BESSA), and Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students (BGESS), celebrated their 55th and 35th anniversaries, respectively. The anniversary celebration and community building event, which took place on February 11, 2023, was hosted by the Black Engineering and Science Alumni Club (BESAC), and began with a daytime speaker series, followed by a reception at Alumni House. Several EECS alumni were in attendance, such as UC Davis Chancellor and EECS distinguished alumni Gary May (M.S.’88, Ph.D. ’91 EECS) and Valerie Taylor (Ph.D. ’91 EECS), director of the mathematics and computer science division at Argonne National Lab. Other notable alumni who were present include Marie-Ange Eyoum Tagne (M.S. ’03, Ph.D. ’06 EECS), head of product at Yahoo! and Omoju Miller (Ph.D. ‘16 CS Education), CEO and founder of Fimio; Hakim Weatherspoon (Ph.D. ‘06 CS), now a professor of computer science at Cornell, participated in a Black faculty panel. The celebration also marked the 5th anniversary of BESAC. “Being with my fellow BESSA peers and hearing the inspirational stories of BESSA alumni was a very emotional experience for me,” said Bridget Agyare, who is an undergraduate EECS major and BESSA board member. “These successful and distinguished alumni were just like us– they invested time and effort into BESSA’s legacy, they were passionate about STEM, and they were leaders in their community– and seeing what they have achieved reassures me that one day our hard work will pay off and we will succeed as well."