News

Black Women Matter: Arlene Cole Rhodes, Valerie Taylor and Melody Ivory

Three EECS alumnae are featured in a 150W Black Women Matter web page recognizing the legacies of Black women at Cal as part of the 2022 Black History Month celebrations.  The web page, which was put together by EECS Emerita Director of Diversity Sheila Humphreys, highlights 31 Cal pioneers whose lives spanned the past 120 years.  The EECS Department is represented by: Arlene Cole Rhodes (Ph.D. '89, advisor: S. Shankar Sastry), the first Black woman to earn an EE doctorate from Berkeley; 2020 EE Distinguished Alumna Valerie Taylor (M.S. '86 / Ph.D. '91, advisor: David G. Messerschmitt ), the first Black chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University; and Melody Ivory (M.S. '96/Ph.D. '01, advisor: Marti Hearst), the first Black woman to earn a CS doctorate in from Berkeley.

EECS Black History Month: Lee Julian Purnell (EE M.S. 1929)

Lee Julian Purnell is the first Black student who is known to have graduated from the EECS department. He was born in Washington, D.C. in 1896, graduated from Berkeley High in 1915, was a superb track athlete, and earned a B.A. from Cal in 1919.  He got his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at MIT in 1921, where he and another student were said to be the first pair of Black students to graduate from MIT in the same class together.  He received his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Berkeley in 1929, and eventually settled into a career at Howard University, where he served as the Dean of Engineering for 20 years.  Learn more about Lee Purnell in the EECS Newsletter.

Avishay Tal named 2022 Sloan Research Fellow in Computer Science

CS Assistant Prof. Avishay Tal has been selected as a 2022 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Computer Science.   This award recognizes outstanding early-career faculty for their "potential to revolutionize their fields of study."  Tal is a member of the Theory group;  his interests include computational complexity, analysis of boolean functions, circuit and formula lower bounds, query complexity, pseudorandomness, computational learning theory, quantum computing, combinatorics, and connections between algorithms and lower bounds.  He is among 4 winners from UC Berkeley representing the fields of CS, math, physics, and neuroscience.  Winners receive $75K, which may be spent over a two-year term to support their research.

Marti Hearst is named iSchool's new head of school

CS Prof. and alumna Marti Hearst (B.A. '85/M.S. '89/Ph.D. '94, advisor: Robert Wilensky) has been named the new head of school for UC Berkeley's School of Information (iSchool).   Hearst, who was the iSchool's first assistant professor in 1997, is taking over the position from CS Prof. Hany Farid.  She will manage the day-to-day operations of the unit, which is an affiliate of the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS),  and communicate its vision on and off campus.  Hearst is known for her work automating sentiment analysis and word sense disambiguation. She invented an algorithm known as “Hearst Patterns," which is used in commercial text mining operations, and developed a now commonly-used automatic text segmentation approach called TextTiling.   She will serve as head of school through June 30, 2023.

Berkeley CS students help build a database of police misconduct in California

Students in the Data Science Discovery Program are filling a gap in engineering resources to help journalists more easily sort through large stores of records for their research.  The Discovery Program, which is part of Berkeley's Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS), connects  around 200 undergraduates with hands-on, team-based data science research projects at Berkeley, government agencies, community groups, and entrepreneurial ventures.  Students have worked on projects like the SF Chronicle's air quality map, the Wall Street Journal's effort to analyze its source and topic diversity using natural processing language, and the California Reporting Project's police misconduct database. “I don’t know if we’d be able to do this without them,” said KQED data reporter Lisa Pickoff-White. “None of these newsrooms would be able to automate this work on their own.”

Aditya Parameswaran wins 2022 IIT Bombay Young Alumni Achievers Award

EECS Associate Prof. Aditya Parameswaran has been selected to receive the Young Alumni Achievers Award from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay.  This award "recognizes and celebrates the outstanding achievements of [IIT's] young alumni in their chosen field of endeavor."  Parameswaran, who has a joint appointment at the I School, synthesizes techniques from data systems and human-computer interaction to develop tools to simplify data science at scale.  His tools, which have been downloaded and employed by millions of users, empower "individuals and teams to leverage and make sense of their large datasets more easily, efficiently, and effectively."  These include the Lux library, an intelligent visualization recommendation system for very large data sets in dataframe workflows, and Modin, a scalable dataframe system which applies database and distributed systems ideas to help run dataframe workloads faster.  The award will be presented during the university's Institute Foundation Day Function on March 10, 2022.

Sergey Levine, Nilah Ioannidis, and Dorsa Sadigh awarded 2022 Okawa Research Grants

EECS Associate Prof. Sergey Levine, Assistant Prof. Nilah Ioannidis, and alumna Dorsa Sadigh have won 2022 Okawa Research Grants.  These grants recognize "studies and analyses in the fields of information and telecommunications." Levine is doing research on "Offline Reinforcement Learning: Robust and Reliable Decisions from Data," Ioannidis is working on "Genome-Scale Learning of Molecular Phenotypes for Personal Genome Interpretation," and Sadigh, who is now an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Stanford, is studying "Adaptive Human-Robot Interaction."  They comprise three of the seven U.S. recipients who were awarded $10K grants this year.

Ruzena Bajcsy and Eric Brewer named 2021 AAAS Fellows

EECS Prof. Emeriti Ruzena Bajcsy and Eric Brewer have been named 2021 Honorary Fellows of  the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the scientific community’s highest honors.  Bajcsy, who was elected in the Engineering category, is known for her pioneering and multidisciplinary contributions to machine perception, robotics and artificial intelligence. Her work in the area of active perception revolutionized the field of robotic sensing and vision, as well as the area of elastic matching, which has advanced the field of medical imaging.  Brewer, who is currently the vice-president of infrastructure at Google, was elected in the Information, Computing and Communication category. He is known for his design and development of highly scalable internet services, and innovations in bringing information technology to developing regions.

Marti Hearst inducted into 2021 ACM SIGIR Academy inaugural class

CS alumna Prof. Marti Hearst (B.A. '85/M.S '89./Ph.D. '94,  advisor: Robert Wilensky), whose primary appointment is in the School of Information, has been named to the 2021 inaugural class of the ACM Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval (SIGIR) Academy. SIGIR Academy membership recognizes the "principal leaders in IR" who have made "significant, cumulative contributions" to the development of the field, and whose "efforts have shaped the discipline and/or industry through significant research, innovation, and/or service."  Hearst literally wrote the first book on Search User Interfaces in 2009.   She is known for her early work on automating sentiment analysis and word sense disambiguation, including the invention of an algorithm known as "Hearst patterns" which is widely used in commercial text mining applications including ontology learning.  She also developed a now well-known approach to automatic segmentation of text into topical discourse boundaries, called TextTiling.  Hearst is an Edge Foundation contributing author and a member of the Usage panel of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Her current research interests include user interfaces for search engines, information visualization, natural language processing, and MOOCs.

2022 Diversity in Tech Symposium: Advancing Climate Resilience - March 10-11th

A number of EECS faculty and students are slated to participate in the 2022 Diversity in Tech Symposium, which will be held virtually on March 10 & 11.  This year's theme is "Advancing Climate Resilience."  EECS Prof. Tsu-Jae King Liu, dean of Berkeley Engineering, will warm up the audience with a fireside chat on the symposium's topic;  EECS Prof. Costas Spanos, director of the CITRIS and Banatao Institute, will welcome participants to the second day of the event;  Adjunct Prof. Sascha von Meier will participate in the UC Berkeley-hosted panel Getting to zero: Trends in the built environment; and senior EECS major Katherine Shu will represent WiCSE in a presentation on the Career Fair.  The symposium is open to the public and anyone interested in climate innovation and action, and the advancement of women and underrepresented communities working in technology fields, is encouraged to attend.