News

Natacha Crooks wins 2020 ACM SIGOPS Dennis M. Ritchie dissertation award

CS Assistant Prof. Natacha Crooks has won the 2020 ACM Special Interest Group on Operating Systems (SIGOPS) Dennis M. Ritchie dissertation award for her thesis titled "A Client-Centric Approach to Transactional Datastores."  The award, which recognizes creative research in software systems, was bestowed upon a dissertation which a colleague described as "a landmark, with deep and beautiful results in transactions and distributed consistency, and systems that exploit them."  The award committee commented that "Natacha Crooks’ thesis achieves something rare: a new conceptual framework for client-centric consistency and two efficient systems built on those insights. The document for this attractive package is accessible (in part) to undergraduates and the advanced material is very clearly written. With the enduring popularity of consistency as a research topic in distributed systems for the past several decades it is surprising that a breakthrough as large as Natacha’s took as long as it did."  The work was done at the University of Texas, Austin, advised by Lorenzo Alvisi and Simon Peter.

Gabe Fierro wins inaugural Google - CMD-IT FLIP Dissertation Fellowship

EECS graduate student Gabriel Fierro (B.S. c. 2014, Ph.D. advisor: David Culler) has won an inaugural Google - CMD-IT FLIP Dissertation Fellowship.   He is one of 11 computer science scholars from underrepresented groups who were recognized this year for "positively influencing the direction and perspective of technology."   The award is part of a joint effort by Google Research, the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (CAHSI), and the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology (CMD-IT) Diversifying Future Leadership in the Professoriate (FLIP) Alliance to increase the diversity of doctoral graduates in computing.  After completing his Ph.D., Fierro aspires to "a faculty position in a computer science department where I am able to pursue non-traditional and cross-disciplinary approaches to long-standing problems of sustainability and the built environment."  Fierro is currently working on the Buildings, Energy and Transportation Systems project in conjunction with the RISE Lab.

"Extreme MRI" chosen as ISMRM Reproducible Research pick

"Extreme MRI: Large‐scale volumetric dynamic imaging from continuous non‐gated acquisitions,” a paper by EECS alumnus Frank Ong (B.S. '13, Ph.D. '18) and his advisor, Prof. Miki Lustig, has been chosen as October's Reproducible Research pick by the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM).  The paper, in which the researchers attempt to reconstruct a large-scale dynamic image dataset while pushing reconstruction resolution to the limit, was chosen "because, in addition to sharing their code, the authors also shared a demo of their work in a Google Colab notebook."  Lustig and Ong, now a research engineer at Stanford, participated in a Q&A in which they discussed how they became interested in MRI, what makes Extreme MRI "extreme," the culture and value of open science, and why Lustig's grad school paper on compressed sensing became the most cited paper in MRM.  ISMRM is an international nonprofit association that promotes research development in the field of magnetic resonance in medicine to help facilitate continuing education in the field.

Mike Stonebraker wins 2020 C&C Prize

EECS Prof. Emeritus Michael Stonebraker has won the prestigious NEC Computers and Communications (C&C) Prize "For Pioneering Contributions to Relational Database Systems." The prize is awarded "to distinguished persons in recognition of outstanding contributions to research and development and/or pioneering work in the fields of semiconductors, computers, and/or telecommunications and in their integrated technologies."  In the early 1970's, Stonebraker and Prof. Eugene Wong began researching Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS), which culminated in the creation of the Interactive Graphics and Retrieval System (INGRES), a practical and efficient implementation of the relational model running on Unix-based DEC machines.  It included a number of key ideas still widely used today, including B-trees, primary-copy replication, the query rewrite approach to views and integrity constraints, and the idea of rules/triggers for integrity checking in an RDBMS.  Stonebraker, Wong, and Prof. Larry Rowe, founded a startup called Relational Technology, Inc. (renamed Ingres Corporation), which they sold to Computer Associates in the early 1990's for $311M.  Stonebraker's student, Robert Epstein (Ph.D. '80), founded the startup Sybase, which created the code used as a basis for the Microsoft SQL Server.  Stonebraker also created Postgres in the late 1980's, which made it easier for programmers to modify or add to the optimizer, query language, runtime, and indexing frameworks.  It broadened the commercial database market by improving both database programmability and performance, making it possible to push large portions of a number of applications inside the database, including geographic information systems and time series processing.  Stonebraker retired from Berkeley in 2000 to found more companies and become an adjunct professor at MIT.  His achievements have been recognized with an IEEE John von Neumann Medal in 2005, ACM A.M. Turing Award in 2014, and ACM SIGMOD Systems Award in 2015.

Dorsa Sadigh wins 2020 IEEE TCCPS Early Career Award

EECS alumna Dorsa Sadigh (BS '12 / PhD '17, advisors: Shankar Sastry and Sanjit Seshia) has been recognized with the IEEE Technical Committee on Cyber-Physical Systems (TCCPS) Early Career Award ‘‘for contributions to the theory, design, and implementation of human cyber-physical systems.’’ She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Departments of both Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University.  Her research interests lie at the intersection of robotics, machine learning, and control theory, and she is currently working on developing efficient algorithms for safe, reliable, and adaptive human-robot and generally multi-agent interactions.

Kathy Yelick wins 2020 Berkeley Lab Citation for Exceptional Achievement

EECS Prof. Katherine Yelick has won The Berkeley Lab Citation, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) Director's Award for Exceptional Achievement which "honors extraordinary achievement(s) in broad categories of science and operations, with special focus on service to the Lab and/or the DOE National Lab Complex."  Yelick was cited for "extraordinary leadership both within the Lab and at the national level, including her significant role in developing DOE strategy in Exascale and Quantum Computing, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence."  Yelick is the Senior Advisor on Computing at LBNL and the Associate Dean for Research in UC Berkeley's new Division of Computing, Data Science and Society (CDSS).  She was the Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences at LBNL from 2010 through 2019, and led the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) prior to that.  Her research focuses on high performance computing, programming languages, compilers, parallel algorithms, and automatic performance tuning. She currently leads the ExaBiome project on scalable tools for analyzing microbial data and co-leads the Berkeley Benchmarking and Optimization (Bebop) group.

Sophia Shao and Alp Sipahigil win Berkeley Engineering faculty fellowships

New EECS Assistant Profs. Sophia Shao and Alp Sipahigil have received Engineering faculty fellowships, which will help fund the first five years of their projects and labs at Berkeley.   The fellowships are sponsored by Berkeley Engineering alumni and friends as part of a $1.25M program that will be shared among five new faculty.  Shao, who began teaching at Berkeley in 2019, studies computer architecture with a special focus on specialized accelerator, heterogeneous architecture and agile VLSI design methodology.  Sipahigil, who will arrive in spring 2021 from Caltech, has been focused on using nanoscale phononic and photonic structures to bring new functionalities to superconducting quantum circuits.

Alessandro Chiesa receives 2020 Okawa Research Grant

CS Assistant Prof. Alessandro Chiesa has been selected as a 2020 Okawa Foundation Research Grant recipient for his work on the "Foundations of Quantum and Non-Signaling Proofs (Post-Quantum Zero-Knowledge Proofs for Secure Distributed Systems)."  Okawa Research Grants are awarded to Asian and American scholars for studies and analyses in the fields of information and telecommunications.  Winners receive a $10K prize which is usually awarded in an autumn ceremony in San Francisco, but the event has been cancelled this year because of COVID-19.

Brian Harvey wins NTLS Education Technology Leadership Award

CS Teaching Prof. Emeritus Brian Harvey has been awarded the National Technology Leadership Summit (NTLS) Education Technology Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals who made a significant impact on the field of educational technology over the course of a lifetime.  The award is NTLS's highest honor.  Harvey wrote the "Computer Science Logo Style" textbook trilogy in the 1980s, which uses the Logo programming language (a subdialect of Lisp which had been created for elementary school children) to teach computer science concepts to more advanced students.   He designed UCBLogo in 1992, a free, open-source programming language that is now the de facto standard for Logo, and won the Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995.  He then collaborated with award co-recipient Jens Möenig to develop the block programming language Snap!, which makes advanced computational concepts accessible to nonprogrammers.  It is used in the highly successful class "Beauty and Joy of Computing," which was developed at Berkeley to introduce more diverse audiences to CS. The class is approved for AP credit and, with support from the NSF, has been provided to more than one thousand high school CS teachers nationwide.  Harvey says “Languages in the Logo family, including Scratch and Snap!, take the position that we’re not in the business of training professional computer programmers. Our mission is to bring programming to the masses.”

Josephine Williamson celebrated as influential leader

EECS director of operations Josephine Williamson is one of 18 unsung heroines at UC Berkeley being honored this month as part of the Berkeley 150W project.  Williamson, whom Vice Provost Tsu-Jae King Liu describes as “an exemplary builder of positive working relationships,” knows the department inside and out.  She began her relationship with EECS as an undergraduate workstudy, helping students, faculty, staff and visitors, behind the Soda Hall front desk.  After graduating and exploring some other career options, she returned to campus as the manager of budget and planning in the College of Engineering, and was hired away two years later to serve as EECS's manager of financial services.   She has been in her current position as director of operations for almost ten years, and was recognized for her leadership skills with a Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Award (COSA) in 2017, the Berkeley Chancellor's highest staff honor.  Williamson is treasured by her staff  as a compassionate and positive leader who has created a supportive, nurturing work environment that has remained strong even during difficult times.  She has taken steps to make the department more welcoming to a greater diversity of people, and has created a more open, convivial, and respectful culture for everyone.  "During my years at Cal, I learned that it is not only important to recognize our strengths, but also to seek out areas where we need to change and further develop," she says.  "It’s important to create a safe place for people to share stories, listen and reflect in order to come together as a team."