News

Jennifer Chayes wins 2020 ACM Distinguished Service Award

CS Prof. Jennifer Chayes, who is also the Associate Provost for the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS), is the recipient of the 2020 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Distinguished Service Award.  She was selected for the award, which recognizes outstanding career-long "contributions to the computing community at large," for "her effective leadership, mentorship, and dedication to diversity during her distinguished career of computer science research, teaching, and institution building."  Chayes' contributions include leadership at both Microsoft Research (where she founded and led the Theory Group, and Microsoft Research New England, New York City and Montreal) and UC Berkeley (where she is also the Dean of the School of Information); service to many computing and science organizations (including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, and the ACM A.M. Turing Award Committee); expanding the diversity of the computing field through mentorship of women, underrepresented racial minorities and other disadvantaged groups; and making important research contributions in machine learning.  

Shankar Sastry wins 2021 ASME Rufus Oldenburger Medal

EECS Prof. S. Shankar Sastry has won the 2021 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Rufus Oldenburger Medal for significant contributions and outstanding achievements to the field and profession of automatic control.  Sastry, who was dean of Berkeley Engineering for over ten years, was cited “For fundamental contributions to the foundations of nonlinear, adaptive and hybrid control, control of robots and vehicles, and for contributions to control and robotics education.”  EECS Prof. Lotfi Zadeh (1921-2017) previously won this award in 1993.  The medal will be presented at the ASME Dynamic Systems and Control Division Awards ceremony and dinner, which will take place at the newly instituted Modeling, Estimation and Control Conference (MECC 2021), in Texas in October.

NLP team helps a computer win the 2021 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament

A team at the Berkeley Natural Language Processing Group (NLP) helped augment an AI system named "Dr. Fill" that has won the 2021 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT).  This is the first time in the contest's history that an AI has trumped its human competitors.  The team, which included CS Prof. Dan Klein, graduate students Nicholas Tomlin, Eric Wallace, and Kevin Yang, and undergraduate students Albert Xu and Eshaan Pathak, approached Matthew Ginsberg, who created the Dr. Fill algorithm in 2012, and offered to join forces by contributing their machine learning system  called the Berkeley Crossword Solver (BCS).  BCS employs a neural network model to combine general language understanding with more "creative" crossword puzzle clues, then applies its knowledge to practice puzzles, improving as it learns.  “We had a state-of-the-art natural language understanding and question-answering component but a pretty basic crossword handler, while Matt had the best crossword system around and a bunch of domain expertise, so it was natural to join forces,” said Klein. “As we talked, we realized that our systems were designed in a way that made it very easy to interoperate because they both speak the language of probabilities.”  ACPT is the oldest and biggest tournament of its kind, consisting of seven qualifying puzzles and a final playoff puzzle; solvers are ranked using a formula that balances accuracy and speed. Although Dr. Fill made three errors, it completed most puzzles in well under a minute, and ultimately outscored its top human competitor, who made zero errors, by 15 points.  The contest was held online this year and attracted more than 1,100 contestants vying for the $3K grand prize. 

Michael I. Jordan elected 2021 Foreign Member of the Royal Society

CS Prof. Mike Jordan has been elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society.  The Royal Society began as an "'invisible college' of natural philosophers and physicians," which opened its first meeting in 1660 with a lecture by acclaimed scientist Christopher Wren.  Their mission is "to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity."  Jordan joins an elite group of 8,000 Fellows elected over the past 400 years that includes Isaac Newton (1672), Charles Darwin (1839), Albert Einstein (1921), Stephen Hawking (1974), and EECS Prof. Eli Yablonovitch (2013). Fellows and Foreign members must be nominated by at least two Fellows of the Royal Society, and must have made "a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science."  Jordan is known as one of the leading figures in machine learning, and one of the world's most influential computer scientists.  New Fellows are formally admitted to the Society at the Admission Day ceremony in July, when they sign the Charter Book and the Obligation of the Fellows of the Royal Society.

Gloria Tumushabe cultivates women coders in Africa

EECS alumna and current Master's student Gloria Tumushabe (B.S. ’20) is the subject of an article in the Spring 2021 Berkeley Engineer titled "Cultivating female coders in Africa."  During the COVID pandemic shutdown, Tumushabe developed a program called Afro Fem Coders to allow her to remotely teach computer programming to girls in Uganda from her home in Walnut Creek.  Two weeks after reaching out by word-of-mouth and social media, she had heard back from more than 40 girls who were eager to participate.  She sent them money to pay for laptops and internet service, and formed an international network of women professionals to provide one-on-one mentoring.  In the year since the program began, it has grown to 120 girls from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana and Ethiopia. “The more of us women in this space, the better,” she said.  Tumushabe is leading the EECS Anti-Racism Committee meetings this semester, and was awarded the 2021 EECS Eugene L. Lawler Prize for her "amazing work and dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion, and improving the EECS Department for students who come after her."

Alvin Cheung and Somayeh Sojoudi named ONR 2021 Young Investigators

EECS Assistant Profs. Somayeh Sojoudi and Alvin Cheung have received Office of Naval Research (ONR) 2021 Young Investigator Program Awards (YIP). The ONR YIP is one of the nation’s oldest and most selective basic-research, early-career awards in science and technology. It recognizes new-career faculty—who obtained their Ph.D. on or after 2013—for prior academic achievement and their potential to make significant scientific contributions in the future. Sojoudi's award is for "High-performance Computational Methods for Nonlinear Machine Learning Problems" in the area of Machine Learning, Reasoning and Intelligence; Cheung's award is for "A Framework for Automatic Leveraging of Trusted Execution Environments" in the area of Cyber Security and Complex Software Systems. They are among 38 recipients who will share $20M in funding to provide laboratory equipment, postdocs, graduate student stipends/scholarships, and other expenses critical to conducting innovative scientific research that will benefit the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

Jiaheng Zhang wins 2021 Facebook Fellowship for Security & Privacy

Third-year EECS graduate student Jiaheng Zhang (advisor: Dawn Song) has won a 2021 Facebook Fellowship for Security & Privacy.   He is the only student from Berkeley this year to win one of these coveted fellowships, which are designed to support emerging scholars who are engaged in innovative research.  Zhang's focus is on computer security and cryptography, especially zero-knowledge proofs and their applications on blockchain and machine learning models.  He is a member of the RISE Lab, the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies & Contracts Lab (IC3), and the Berkeley AI Research (BAIR). 

Anthony Joseph named Director of Fung Institute

EECS Prof. Anthony Joseph has been name the next Director of the Coleman Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership.  After earning his degrees at MIT, Joseph was hired as a professor of Computer Science at Berkeley in 1998. His primary research interests are in Genomics, Secure Machine Learning, Datacenters, mobile/distributed computing, and wireless communications (networking and telephony). His research also includes adaptive techniques for cloud computing, distributed network monitoring and triggering, cybersecurity, and datacenter architectures. He is the former Director of Berkeley Intel Lab, the co-founder of two startup companies, and a committed teacher who has experience developing and teaching five successful massive, open online courses (MOOC) on Big Data and Machine Learning offered through the BerkeleyX platform. Joseph is noted for his commitment to access and inclusion, and has worked to recruit and mentor a diversity of students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  He will begin his directorship on July 1st.

Tiny wireless implant detects oxygen deep within the body

CS Prof. and Chan Zuckerberg Biohub investigator Michel Maharbiz is the senior author of a paper in Nature Biotechnology titled "Monitoring deep-tissue oxygenation with a millimeter-scale ultrasonic implant," which describes a tiny wireless implant that can provide real-time measurements of tissue oxygen levels deep underneath the skin. The device, which is smaller than the average ladybug and powered by ultrasound waves, could help doctors monitor the health of transplanted organs or tissue and provide an early warning of potential transplant failure.  “It’s very difficult to measure things deep inside the body,” said Maharbiz. “The device demonstrates how, using ultrasound technology coupled with very clever integrated circuit design, you can create sophisticated implants that go very deep into tissue to take data from organs.”

Yang You makes Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 Asia for Healthcare and Science

EECS alumnus Yang You (Ph.D. '20, advisor: James Demmel) has been named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 Asia list for Healthcare and Science.  Yang, who is now a Presidential Young Professor of Computer Science at the National University of Singapore, studies Machine Learning, Parallel/Distributed Algorithms, and High-Performance Computing. The focus of his research is scaling up deep neural networks training on distributed systems or supercomputers.  He has broken two world records for AI training speed: one in 2017 for ImageNet and the other in 2019 for Boundless Electrical Resistivity Tomography (BERT).  Yang has won numerous best paper awards as well as the inaugural Berkeley EECS Lotfi A. Zadeh Prize for outstanding contributions to soft computing and its applications by a graduate student.