Baskin News Beat - May 2017

Research Roundup

  • Peter Alvaro's research was selected for publication in ACM Queue's "Research for Practice" column
    The RfP column provides a short, curated selection of papers on a concentrated, practically oriented topic. Get a crash course from Peter on Tracing and Debugging Distributed Systems.
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  • Research by Daniele Venturi and colleagues takes the guesswork out of complex military systems
    Computational models and simulations are helpful for designing complex military systems such as new aerospace vehicles. However, realistic models require enormous amounts of computing power. Researchers, including BSOE Professor Daniele Venturi, are building theoretical foundations for Design Under Uncertainty (DUU), which aims to simplify design processes for unconventional defense systems where the number of parameters, or system features, can be in the thousands and the design requires taking into account such variables as uncertain operating conditions, novel materials whose behavior may not be fully understood, and manufacturing imperfections whose relevance has yet to be determined. 

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  • Ricardo Sanfelice and J.J. Garcia-Luna-Aceves took two of the four awards made by Tecnologico de Monterrey (ITESM) & CITRIS and the Banatao Institute
    Building on a successful binational partnership launched in 2013, four new projects were selected to receive seed funding from Tecnologico de Monterrey (ITESM) jointly with CITRIS and the Banatao Institute. 

    Ricardo teamed up with ITESM researcher Rita Q. Fuentes-Aguilar on "Hybrid Algorithms for Real-Time Identification and Manipulation of Deformable Soft Tissue." The project focuses on solutions to the "soft-object manipulation problem," which can arise when a robot grasps a soft (rather than rigid) object. The research is motivated by the growing use of artificial tissue, but also has applications in home robots, medical robotics, manufacturing, and the food industry. J.J.'s winning proposal "Channel Modeling for Intelligent Transportation Systems: Characterizing V2X Links" looks at Wireless Sensor Networks for vehicle-to-infrastructure deployment in Vehicular ad hoc Networks (VANETs).
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  • The Battle Against Fake News: Luca de Alfaro makes it into the UK's Register
    Fake news is an acknowledged problem for internet users and has wide political and societal implications. Luca has co-authored a paper, "Some like it Hoax: Automated Fake News Detection in Social Media," in which is discussed how a set of users who "like" a post can automatically determine if the post is a hoax or not.  
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  • Collecting Data While Preserving User Privacy: Abrhadeep Guha Thakurta's research helps ensure privacy for iPhone users
    Differential privacy works by algorithmically scrambling individual user data so that it can't be traced back to the individual and then analyzing the data in bulk for large-scale trend patterns. The goal is to protect the user's identity and the specifics of their data while still extracting some general information to propel machine learning. Abrhadeep Guha Thakurta is the lead inventor of a method using differential privacy techniques for Apple iOS users to effectively adapt user dictionaries based on the word usage patterns on individuals' devices while provably preserving privacy.
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  • The Future is in Interactive Storytelling
    Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Michael Mateas describe the art and engineering of interactive storytelling. Check out their article in The Conversation.
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  • Hellman Fellows: Dongwook Lee and Christopher Vollmers received Hellman Fellowships 

    The Hellman Fellows Program supports assistant professors who show great promise and distinction in their studies and research. 

    Dongwook Lee: New High-Order Schemes for Computational Fluid Dynamics using Gaussian Processes. Dongwook develops numerical algorithms for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations running on high-performance computing (HPC) machines to help us understand the origin of magnetic fields, space weather prediction, self-sustaining nuclear fusion reaction for clean energy and other important phenomenon. 

    Christopher Vollmers: Determining the Diversity of Individual Human B Cells Using Nanopore Sequencing. Chris has developed a new approach that allows us to measure RNA transcripts expressed from all the genes in individual immune cells with unprecedented accuracy. The ability to determine such information at the level of individual cells is critical for an accurate understanding the human adaptive immune system, our last line of defense against potentially deadly diseases.  

  • Patent Awards: Xiaodong Tao, Joel Kubby and Nader Pourmand recognized  

    Tao/Kubby's technology, Interferometric focusing of guide-stars for direct wavefront sensing, provides a clear look into biological tissue. 
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    Pourmand's technology, Nanopipette apparatus for manipulating cells, is a new biotechnology for controlling single cells. 
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  • Thank you to faculty who gave lab tours on Alumni Weekend!
    Rebecca DuBois, Katherine Isbister, Sri Kurniawan, and Mircea Teodorescu entertained and educated our alumni visitors on Saturday April 29th. For those who would like to do lab tours next year, mark your calendars for April 28th!
    See pictures from the Baskin School of Engineering Alumni Brunch

Comings and Goings

  • Comings: Several new faculty will be joining the Baskin School of Engineering this year. Here's a list of confirmations to date (more to come!)

    • Sara Abrahamsson: Assistant Professor, EE
      Current postition and affiliation: Postdoctoral Fellow at Rockefeller University
      Recruitment/Research area: Bioelectronics
    • Marcella Gomez: Assistant Professor, AMS
      Current postition and affiliation: Postdoctoral Researcher at UC Berkeley
      Recruitment/Research area: Mathematical Biology
    • Abhishek Halder: Assistant Professor, AMS
      Current postition and affiliation: Postdoctoral Researcher at UC Irvine 
      Recruitment/Research area: Control Systems
    • Heiner Litz: Assistant Professor, CE
      Current postition and affiliation: Lecturer and Research Group Leader, Stanford University 
      Recruitment/Research area: Hardware
    • Benedict Paten: Assistant Professor, BME
      Current postition and affiliation: Associate Researcher at UC Santa Cruz 
      Recruitment/Research area: Comparative/Medical Genomics
    • Narges Norouzi: Teaching Professor, CS
      Current postition and affiliation: Ph.D student in Computer Engineering, University of Toronto
    • Michael Wehner: Assistant Professor, CE
      Current postition and affiliation: Postdoctoral Researcher at Harvard University
      Recruitment/Research area: Robotics
  • Goings: Barbara Jolley, Research Administration Manager for BSOE, has retired. Her last day of work was today, Friday May 26th. Thank you Barbara for your hard work and dedication to BSOE!

Inside Scoop

  • 2016-17 BSOE faculty recruitment by the (very-approximate-not-meant-for-statistical-analysis) numbers:

    • 9 recruitments
    • 870 applicants

    • 532 qualified applicants

    • 44 candidates visited campus

    • 44 seminars

    • 502 faculty meetings 

    • 155 Entertainment Reimbursement forms, 44 Payee Set Up forms, 44 Post Travel Forms ...

Student Scoop

  • Paper by Ph.D. student Shweta Jain was awarded best paper at the 2017 World Wide Web conference
    Coauthored by Jain's advisor Seshadri Commandur, the paper is titled "A Fast and Provable Method for Estimating Clique Counts Using Turan's Theorem." The result uses classic theorems in extremal combinatorics for practical clique-counting algorithms for social networks. 
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  • Sabina Tomkins will present her research at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI)
    Ph.D. student Sabina Tomkins has been invited to present her paper, "Disambiguating Energy Disaggregation: A Collective Probabilistic Approach," at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) in Melbourne Australia this summer. The IJCAI is the main international gathering of researchers in Artificial Intelligence.
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  • Congrats to Edward Rice and Jordan Eizenga, who were selected as ARCS scholars for 2017-2018!
    The ARCS Foundation provides financial awards to academically outstanding students completing degrees in science, engineering and medical research.


Bears Repeating

  • Doug Cutting Appointed CROSS Distinguished Fellow
    Doug Cutting was recently appointed Distinguished Fellow of the Center for Research in Open Source Software (CROSS). This appointment by the Baskin School of Engineering (BSOE) at UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) highlights the importance the university places on strengthening CROSS’s ability to bridge the gap between student prototypes and successful open-source software (OSS) projects. 
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  • UC Santa Cruz Genetics Lab Helps Solve the Mystery of “Miranda Eve†
    On May 9, 2016, a contractor discovered the casket of a child while excavating the backyard of the Karner family in the Lone Mountain neighborhood of San Francisco, setting off a search for the child's identity that garnered international attention. Ancient DNA expert Ed Green helped identify the remains of a 19th-century baby Jane Doe found in San Francisco backyard. 
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  • Graduate Student John Felts Takes Second Place in UC Glam Slam
    John Felts, a graduate student in electrical engineering at UC Santa Cruz, placed second in the 2017 UC Grad Slam competition, held Thursday, May 4, at LinkedIn’s downtown San Francisco office. Felts presented his work on Cruz Foam, a biodegradable alternative to polyurethane and polystyrene foam. 
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  • Computer Pioneer Harry Huskey Dies at Age 101
    Harry Huskey, professor emeritus of computer science, worked on early computing systems and helped universities around the world establish computer science programs. A professor emeritus of computer science at UC Santa Cruz, Huskey began his career teaching mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania. There, he worked on the famed ENIAC project in the 1940s. ENIAC was the first large-scale electronic computer, containing 18,000 vacuum tubes, and Huskey was among the last surviving members of the ENIAC team. 
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  • Five Graduate Student Alumni Return for Awards
    The five honorees were presented with the first Distinguished Graduate Student Alumni Award on April 29th and were part of panel discussions where they shared their stories on career and entrepreneurship opportunities. 
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  • A Role Models for Girls Who Code
    Regine De Guzman, a self-taught coding whiz, wants to close the Silicon Valley gender gap by encouraging girls to pursue tech careers. De Guzman has become a champion and a mentor for girls considering careers in high-tech. She shared her words of wisdom at the TEDxLosGatosHighSchool, where she made a strong appeal to parents who would like to help their girls achieve high-tech success. 
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  • Baskin Engineering Professor Angela Brooks named "Scientist to Watch" by The Scientist Magazine
    At the University of California, Santa Cruz,  Brooks combs the cancer genome, looking for weaknesses. 
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  • UC Santa Cruz ranked among top schools for game design
    UCSC is featured on Princeton Review's 2017 lists for top undergraduate and graduate programs in game design. UC Santa Cruz ranked 13th on the Princeton Review's list of the "Top 25" graduate schools and 21st on the list of the "Top 50" undergraduate programs. In addition to B.S. and B.A. degrees in game design, the campus also has three graduate programs with an emphasis on games: the professional M.S. in games and playable media; the Ph.D. or M.S. in computational media; and the M.F.A. in digital arts and new media. 
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