Wenshuo Guo wins 2021 Google PhD Fellowship

EECS graduate student Wenshuo Guo (advisor: Michael I. Jordan) has won a 2021 Google PhD Fellowship in Algorithms, Optimization and Markets.  This award acknowledges and supports exemplary PhD students in computer science and related fields who are making contributions to their areas of specialty.   Guo studies robustness guarantees in algorithms and machine learning foundations, as well as their impact on society.  She is also interested in the intersection of CS and economics, and is currently focused on mechanism design, causal inference, and statistical questions in reinforcement learning. The award, which will cover full tuition, fees, and a stipend for the 2021-22 school year, will be presented at the Global Fellowship Summit over the summer.

Maryann Simmons and Hayley Iben win Academy Awards

CS alumnae Maryann Simmons (B.A. / M.S./ Ph.D. '01, advisor: Carlo Séquin) and Hayley Iben (M.S. '05/Ph.D. '07, advisor: James O'Brien) have won 2020 Technical Achievement Awards (SciTech Oscars) from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for hair simulation systems.

Simmons is now a senior staff software engineer and the technical lead for Hair & Cloth at Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS).  She was part of the team responsible for the WDAS Hair Simulation System, which the citation describes as "a robust, predictable, fast and highly art-directable system built on the mathematics of discrete elastic rods. This has provided Disney artists the flexibility to manipulate hair in hyper-realistic ways to create the strong silhouettes required for character animation and has enabled a wide range of complex hairstyles in animated feature films." According to The Hollywood Reporter, the WDAS System was "used in animated features such as Tangled, to manage Rapunzel’s ultra-long waves."  While at Berkeley, Simmons was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Golden Key Honor Society.

Iben, who is now the director of engineering at Pixar Animation Studios, was part of the team responsible for the Taz Hair Simulation System.  The citation describes Taz as "a robust, predictable and efficient mass-spring hair simulation system with novel formulations of hair shape, bending springs and hair-to-hair collisions. It has enabled Pixar artists to bring to life animated digital characters with a wide variety of stylized hair, from straight to wavy to curly."  While at Berkeley, Iben was president of Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (WiCSE) from 2004-2007, and a member CSGSA.

Alvin Cheung and Jonathan Ragan-Kelley win 2020 Intel Outstanding Researcher Award

EECS Assistant Profs. Alvin Cheung and Jonathan Ragan-Kelley are among 18 winners of Intel's 2020 Outstanding Research Awards (ORA). These awards recognize exceptional contributions made through Intel university-sponsored research.  Cheung and Ragan-Kelley are developing ARION, a system for compiling programs onto heterogeneous platforms. The team will use verified lifting, which rewrites legacy code into a clean specification, stripping away optimizations that target legacy architectures. This spec, written in a DSL, can then be compiled to new platforms, sometimes with orders of magnitude of speedup in resulting code performance.

Anca Dragan wins 2021 IEEE RAS Early Career Award

Anca Dragan has won the 2021 IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award - Academic "For pioneering algorithmic human-robot interaction."  This award is bestowed on current members of IEEE who are in the early stage of their career, and who have made an identifiable contribution or contributions which have had a major impact on the robotics and/or automation fields.  Dragan runs the InterACT lab and is the principal investigator for the Center for Human-Compatible AI.  Her research explores ways to enable robots to work with, around and in support of people, autonomously generating behavior in a way that formally accounts for their interactions with humans.

Groundbreaking EECS alumnae honored during Black History Month

Three amazing EECS alumnae are featured on the Berkeley 150W website in celebration of Black History Month:  Arlene Cole-Rhodes (Ph.D. '89, advisor: Shankar Sastry), the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Berkeley; Melody Ivory (M.S. '96/Ph.D. '01, advisor: Marti Hearst), the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in Computer Science from Berkeley; and Valerie Taylor (Ph.D. '92, advisor: David Messerschmitt), the first Black Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Cole-Rhodes was born in Sierra Leone and moved to England to earn her B.S. in Applied Mathematics at the University of Warwick, and an M.S. in Control Engineering from Cambridge.  She is currently a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the associate dean of Graduate Studies and Research in the School of Engineering, at Morgan State University, an Historically Black University in Maryland. 

Ivory earned her B.S. in Computer Science from Purdue, where she was an inaugural Bill and Melinda Gates Scholar.  After Berkeley, she earned an M.B.A. in Operations and Marketing from The Wharton School and spent a number of years as a product manager at GE and Google. She is currently a founder and Technologist at Thrivafy, a professional development platform focusing on Black, Indigenous, and Latinx women in tech.   She is a keynote speaker at the 2021 Women in Tech Symposium, which will be hosted by CITRIS at UC Berkeley in March.

Taylor also earned her B.S. at Purdue, in CEE, followed by an M.S in EE.  As a graduate student at Berkeley, she co-founded the Summer Undergraduate Program in Engineering Research at Berkeley (SUPERB).  She became a professor at Northwestern before joining Texas A&M in 2003, and is currently the director of the MCS Division of Argonne National Laboratory.  She was named Berkeley EE Distinguished Alumna in 2020.

Sheila Humphreys, who authored these profiles, will be publishing an essay on “Early Scholars of Color at Berkeley” later this year.

Alessandro Chiesa named 2021 Sloan Research Fellow

EECS Assistant Prof. Alessandro Chiesa has been selected as a 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Computer Science.  Awarded annually since 1955, the Sloan fellowships honor "the most promising scientific researchers working today...extraordinary U.S. and Canadian researchers whose creativity, innovation, and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next generation of scientific leaders."  Chiesa conducts research in the areas of complexity theory, cryptography, and security, focusing on the theoretical foundations and practical implementations of zero knowledge proofs that are short and easy to verify. He is an author of libsnark, a C++ library for zkSNARKs, which is the leading open-source library for succinct zero knowledge proofs. He is also a co-inventor of Zerocash, a new protocol that provides a privacy-preserving version of a cryptocurrency, and a co-founder of Zcash, a digital currency with strong privacy features.  Sloan Fellows receive $75,000, which may be spent over a two-year term on any expense supportive of their research.

Shafi Goldwasser wins L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award

CS alumna and Prof. Shafi Goldwasser (Ph.D. '84, advisor: Manuel Blum) has won the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Award in the field of Computer Science. The award is one of five bestowed on International Day for Women and Girls in Science to honor five women researchers around the world who have made contributions to the fields of astrophysics, mathematics, chemistry and informatics.  Goldwasser, who is currently the Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, was recognized "for her pioneering and fundamental work in computer science and cryptography, essential for secure communication over the internet as well as for shared computation on private data. Her research has a significant impact on our understanding of large classes of problems for which computers cannot efficiently find even approximate solutions."  The awards are part of the 23rd International Prize for Women in Science Awards.

David Patterson wins Frontiers of Knowledge Award

CS Prof. Emeritus David Patterson has won the 13th BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Information and Communication Technologies.  He shares the award with John Hennessy of Stanford University "for taking computer architecture, the discipline behind the central processor or 'brain' of every computer system, and launching it as a new scientific area."  The citation says that Patterson and Hennessy "are synonymous with the inception and formalization of this field.  Before their work, the design of computers – and in particular the measurement of computer performance – was more of an art than a science, and practitioners lacked a set of repeatable principles to conceptualize and evaluate computer designs. Patterson and Hennessy provided, for the first time, a conceptual framework that gave the field a grounded approach towards measuring a computer’s performance, energy efficiency, and complexity.”  They jointly created RISC, an architecture that underpins the design of central processors and is at the heart of virtually every data center server, desktop, laptop, smartphone, and computer embedded in an Internet of Things device.  Their landmark textbook, Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, was first published in 1989 and is still considered “the bible” of computer architecture.  The pair won the ACM A.M. Turing Award for their achievements in 2017.  Patterson participated in a Frontiers of Knowledge Award interview video.

Steven Cao and Stephen Tian

Steven Cao wins CRA 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award

Senior EECS student Steven Cao has won a Computing Research Association (CRA) 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award, and senior Stephen Tian was named runner-up.    The award recognizes significant contributions to computing research projects.  Cao (nominated by Prof. Dan Klein)  worked with the Berkeley Natural Language Processing group, where he developed new methods in syntactic parsing for one project, and contributed to the development and testing of new methods to provide more accurate translations between languages in another.  He also worked on developing new and provably correct blockchain protocols and on several projects related to medical imaging.  He co-authored seven papers, including first authorship on papers at three conferences.  He served as Teaching Assistant for two courses while also acting as a research mentor for the group.  Tian (nominated by Prof. Sergey Levine) demonstrated how a robotic finger with a touch sensor could perform myriad tasks using the same reinforcement learning algorithm in one project, and proposed a novel algorithm to allow a robot to achieve a variety of goals indicated as goal images in another.  He co-authored several papers at at least three conferences,  and served as a TA, while also volunteering at events for local high school students.   Ryan Lehmkuhl  (nominated by Prof. Raluca Ada Popa)a was a finalist, and Joey Hejna (nominated by Prof. Pieter Abbeel) received an honorable mention.

Sanjit Seshia and John Canny named ACM Fellows

CS Profs. Sanjit Seshia and John Canny have been named to the 2020 class of fellows of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in recognition of their fundamental contributions to computing and information technology.  Seshia, whose PhD thesis work at Carnegie Mellon on the UCLID verifier and decision procedure helped pioneer the area of satisfiability modulo theories (SMT) and SMT-based verification, and who has led the development of technologies for cyber-physical systems education based on formal methods, was cited "for contributions to formal verification, inductive synthesis, and cyber-physical systems."  Canny, who has explored roofline design for machine learning, improved inference and representations for deep learning, and is best known for creating the widely used Canny edge detector, was cited "for contributions in robotics, machine perception, human-computer interaction, and ubiquitous computing."  Prof. Emeritus Manuel Blum (now at Carnegie Mellon) was also among the 95 scientists inducted into the 2020 class who represent the top 1% of ACM members.