Sheila Humphreys at her PAESMEM ceremony in 2013

Tips that Work!: advice from award-winning STEM mentor Sheila Humphreys

EECS Emerita Director of Diversity, Sheila Humphreys, is participating in a National Science Foundation (NSF) webinar titled "Tips that Work!: Advice from Award-Winning STEM Mentors" on Monday, Jan. 22 at 12:30 pm PST.  Humphreys, who was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) in 2012, will participate in a moderated discussion--in celebration of National Mentoring Month--along with one of her mentees, Cheyenne Nelson, a recent UC Berkeley physics graduate and current Research Affiliate with the ATLAS group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  Along with other PAESMEM recipients and mentees, they will share how successful STEM mentoring can change lives, careers and our nation's workforce.

Cartoon by © Arend van Dam

GEESE: A new cross-disciplinary student initiative to reflect on issues of society & technology

A new initiative, Graduates for Engaged and Extended Scholarship around Computing & Engineering (GEESE), aims to address growing concerns about the rapid advancement and integration of technologies in the global arena by building a coalition of engineers and social science scholars across campus to engage in issues vital to society and technology.  GEESE, launched this semester as one of CITRIS's Tech for Good initiatives,  plans to build a campus community of grad students and postdocs who will bring together disciplines and perspectives from fields like law, public policy, economics, anthropology, sociology, and philosophy, to promote cross-disciplinary scholarship on issues that cannot be wholly addressed from the silos of individual fields.  They will hold roundtables on relevant issues to gauge students' interests, and organize seminars with thought leaders to reflect and redefine their mission and acitivities.

Wei-Tek Tsai named to the Advisory Board of ThreeD Capital

EECS alumnus Wei-Tek Tsai (M.S.'82/Ph.D. '85) has been added to the Advisory Board of ThreeD Capital, a Canadian--based venture capital firm focused on investments in "promising, early stage companies with disruptive capabilities."  Tsai served as Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota and later joined Arizona State University as a professor of Computer Science and Engineering in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering.  In China, he initiated the first academic laboratory dedicated to blockchain research and education in China at Beihang University’s School of Computer Science and Engineering.  Sheldon Inwentash, Chairman and CEO of ThreeD Capital, stated, "Dr. Wei-Tek Tsai is a world-renowned Blockchain expert who, amongst his many great accomplishments, has developed high-speed super large ledger technology that could represent the most disruptive protocol of the already disruptive blockchain industry. His experience and knowledge will be invaluable to our Blockchain initiatives."

Stuart Russell and all things "Slaughterbot"

CS Prof. Stuart Russell is featured in an interview by the "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists" titledAs much death as you want”: UC Berkeley's Stuart Russell on “Slaughterbots.  Russell discusses the genesis of the hit YouTube video, the technology that goes into lethal autonomous weapons, and some of the difficulties involved in controlling their proliferation.

Ben Recht wins NIPS Test of Time Award

Prof. Ben Recht has won the Neural Information Processing System (NIPS) 2017 Test of Time Award for a paper he co-wrote with Ali Rahimi in 2007 titled "Random Features for Large-Scale Kernel Machines."   Deep learning, which involves stacking many neural networks on top of one another to learn the features of giant databases and develop clever algorithms, is being used to carry out more and more tasks in an expanding number of areas.  In their acceptance speech at the NIPS conference, Recht and Rahimi posited that more theory is needed to understand the state-of-the-art empirical performance of deep learning, and called for simple theorems and simple, easily reproducible experiments.  "We are building systems that govern healthcare and mediate our civic dialogue, we influence elections," said Rahimi. "I would like to live in a society where systems are built on top of verifiable, rigorous thorough knowledge and not alchemy."

Four EECS undergraduate researchers recognized by CRA

All four EECS students nominated for this year's Computing Research Association (CRA) Undergraduate Researcher Award were recognized by the selection committee.  Senior CS/Math major Garrett Thomas (nominated by Pieter Abbeel) and EECS junior Peter Manohar (nominated by Alessandro Chiesa) were named as finalists.  Senior CS major Siqi Liu (nominated by Sanjam Garg) and CS/Statistics/Math senior Tianhe Yu (nominated by Sergey Levine and Pieter Abbeel) merited honorable mentions.  This award program recognizes undergraduate students in North American universities who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research.

Ming Lin Named Chair of UMD Department of Computer Science

EECS alumna Ming C. Lin (B.S./M.S./Ph.D. '86-'93) has been named Chair of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland (UMD).  Lin,  a noted educator and expert in virtual reality, computer graphics and robotics, will assume the role of Elizabeth Stevinson Iribe Chair of Computer Science with a joint appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS). The department includes more than 50 tenured or tenure-track faculty members and 11 full-time professional track instructional faculty members. “One of my primary goals is to ensure that our students will be successful in their careers when they graduate,” Lin said. “They are going to be the leaders in a society where practically every aspect of daily life is enabled and impacted by computing. Giving them the knowledge and skills to excel in a technology-empowered world is a mission I take very seriously.”

Harold Pimentel selected as HHMI Hanna H. Gray Fellow

CS alumnus Harold Pimentel (Ph.D. '16, advisor: Lior Pachter), now a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford, has been chosen as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Hanna H. Gray Fellow.  The goal of the fellows program is to "recruit and retain individuals who are from gender, racial, ethnic, and other groups underrepresented in the life sciences, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, early in their careers."  Pimentel is researching what happens when cells fail to prune RNA copies of genes. These copies contain interrupting sequences called introns that are usually spliced out before an RNA molecule serves as a template for protein production. Neglecting to trim away introns is sometimes associated with abnormal cellular behavior and disease. Pimentel plans to use computational methods he developed to analyze a vast set of RNAs in healthy and cancerous tissues to discover whether lingering introns play a part in cancer.   He says he will use the $1.4M award to start a new lab.

Stuart Russell's Slaughterbots video gains political traction

In response to the video Slaughterbots, created by Prof. Stuart Russell and,  San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa has introduced a resolution to ban autonomous weapons.  If the resolution is adopted, San Mateo County would be the first in the United States to urge Congress and the United Nations to restrict the development of weaponized robotic technology.  Slaughterbots, which shows the damage autonomous drones could cause if they continue to be developed without regulation, went viral when it was released in November.  “As policy makers, for us to catch up with technology we ourselves have to be out in front of it,” said Canepa. “So that’s why we’re working on this issue.”

EECS advisors at CS Education Day

EECS Departmental Advising staff win 2017 Excellence in Advising Team Award

EECS Center for Student Affairs (CSA) undergraduate advisers Cindy Conners, Charlene Hughes, Carol Marshall, Andrea Mejia Valencia, Nicole McIntyre, Lydia Raya, Michael-David Sasson, and Lily Zhang, have won the UC Berkeley Excellence in Advising 2017 Team Award.  The team award recognizes exceptional performance and innovation in advising on campus and is presented to members of a group who have made a significant positive impact on the students and programs they support. The achievements of the EECS team are particularly impressive in a time of unprecedented growth that saw their advising pool expand to include over 2,850 students.