150 years of women in engineering

150 years of women at Berkeley

This year, along with the entire Berkeley campus, the College of Engineering is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the University of California’s 1870 resolution: “That young ladies be admitted into the University on equal terms in all respects with young men.” The act came just two years after the university’s founding, while many elite East Coast universities waited until the late 20th century to admit their first women students. Just six years after the resolution was enacted, Berkeley Engineering had its first female graduate: Elizabeth Bragg, the first woman to receive a civil engineering degree from an American university.

Today, our female faculty, students and alumni are at the cutting edge of our work at Berkeley Engineering: holding tenured positions, serving as mentors, leading innovative research, and founding breakthrough startups. Read on to learn more about the ways women have brightened the light at Berkeley Engineering over the decades.

We’ll be adding to this list as the year progresses, so check back for more on the women of Berkeley Engineering.

Patricie Uwase

Patricie Uwase: Improving infrastructure in Rwanda

Alumni, Civil engineering, Infrastructure
Patricie Uwase took her M.S. in civil and environmental engineering from Berkeley and created a powerful career within the Rwandan government, building and planning sustainable transport infrastructures in her native country.
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Grace O’Connell: Applying engineering to regenerative medicine

Grace O’Connell studies musculoskeletal biomechanics using mechanical engineering approaches. Her research in soft tissue biomechanics employs computational and experimental approaches to understand mechanical behavior of the intervertebral disc with injury and degeneration.
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Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan: Iconic architect

Alumni, Civil engineering
Julia Morgan, who graduated in 1894 with a degree in civil engineering, was an architectural pioneer and “a true California gem.”
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Four decades of WiCSE presidents at a reunion meeting

‘A network of our own’

In celebration of 150 Years of Women at Berkeley, Sheila Humphreys tells the story of Women in Computer Science and Engineering, a student organization launched in the 1970s
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Avideh Zakhor

Avideh Zakhor: 3D computer visionary

EECS, Faculty
Avideh Zakhor has parlayed her interests in the theories and applications of signal, image and video processing as well as 3D computer vision into several successful startups. She holds the Qualcomm Chair in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer…
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Fiona Doyle

Fiona Doyle: An advocate for students across campus

Faculty, Materials science
Fiona Doyle, the third woman to join the engineering faculty, has been an educational leader across campus. Her research developed techniques to improve the environmental impacts associated with the production, manufacturing, and recycling of engineering materials.
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Dean Tsu-Jae King Liu

Tsu-Jae King Liu: Berkeley Engineering’s first female dean

EECS, Faculty
Tsu-Jae King Liu, known for her innovations in semiconductor devices and technology, is the College of Engineering’s first female dean. She oversees a program of 5,600+ students that consistently ranks among the nation’s top three engineering schools and colleges.
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Candace Yano

Candace Yano: Engineering + business + industry

Industrial engineering
Candace Yano is known for her work in logistics as well as supply chain and service management. Her early research focused on analytical models for optimizing operational decisions in response to uncertainty in multi-stage manufacturing systems.
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Susan Graham

Susan Graham: The college’s first woman faculty member

Computing, Faculty
Susan Graham was the first woman to join Berkeley Engineering’s faculty. She and her research teams launched such innovations as Harmonia — a language-based framework for interactive software development — and Titanium — a Java-based parallel programming language, compiler, and…
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Amy Herr

Amy Herr: 21st century scientist

Bioengineering, Faculty
Amy Herr leads a renowned research team that’s inventing tools to analyze the levels of proteins within single cells. She’s deeply committed to teaching and mentoring, and is an advocate for bringing engineering design principles to undergraduate bioengineering education.
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Elizabeth Hausler

Elizabeth Hausler: Building change

Alumni, Civil engineering, Uncategorized
Elizabeth Hausler is the founder and CEO of Build Change, an international nonprofit that designs disaster-resistant structures and trains homeowners and craftsmen in best construction practices.
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Dorit Hochbaum

Dorit Hochbaum: IEOR’s first female faculty member

Faculty, Industrial engineering
Dorit Hochbaum was the first woman appointed to the faculty of the Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research. Her research on data mining and pattern recognition is renowned; she’s now working on problems related to homeland security.
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Shafi Goldwasser

Shafi Goldwasser: Cryptography pioneer

Alumni, EECS
Shafi Goldwasser, director of Berkeley’s Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing , has made major contributions to cryptography and numerous other fields, creating work that “is crucial to the fabric of our connected digital society.”
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Lillian Gilbreth

Lillian Gilbreth: A genius in the art of living

Industrial engineering
Lillian Gilbreth is considered the founder of the field of ergonomics. Her work was closely aligned with the field of industrial engineering, even though she attended Cal six decades before the Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research was created.
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Claudia Ostertag

Claudia Ostertag: The future of concrete

Civil engineering, Faculty
Civil and environmental engineering professor Claudia Ostertag is researching ways to make concrete more sustainable, without compromising its durability or strength.
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Alice Agogino with Darfur stove

Alice Agogino: Diversity by design

Faculty, Mechanical engineering
Alice Agogino’s wide-ranging interests and expertise are reflected in the many facets of her BEST lab: space robots, sustainable technology, design education, and fostering diversity and inclusion in engineering.
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Heather Bowerman

Heather Bowerman: Innovating for women’s health

Alumni, Bioengineering
Heather Bowerman wanted to address how lagging medical research and technology deployment for women’s health has led to worse outcomes. She founded DotLab, a medical diagnostics company that has developed the first non-invasive test for endometriosis.
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Kelly Gardner

Kelly Gardner: Improving the Western blot

Alumni, Bioengineering
Kelly Gardner developed a benchtop instrument that allows researchers to search for specific proteins in 1,000 single cells at once. She discovered the idea while working in Professor Amy Herr’s lab at Berkeley and the two women cofounded Zephyrus Biosciences.
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Dawn Song

Dawn Song: Privacy protector

Alumni, EECS, Faculty
Dawn Song, Berkeley Engineering professor and alumna, is proving to be a formidable leader in cutting-edge security and privacy research.
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Andrea Goldsmith

Andrea Goldsmith: Wireless systems maven

Alumni, EECS
Andrea Goldsmith, Marconi Prize awardee and future dean of engineering at Princeton, is considered a pioneer in wireless communications. Her research areas include the design and performance of wireless systems and the use of communications and signal processing in biology.
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Barbara Simons

Barbara Simons: Making votes count

Alumni, EECS
With the midterms rapidly approaching, there has been a flurry of news articles about the country’s ability to safeguard election results. But for Barbara Simons, this scrutiny is long overdue.
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Dawn Tilbury

Dawn Tilbury: Shaping engineering research

Alumni, EECS
Berkeley Engineering alumna Dawn Tilbury has influence over the nation’s fundamental engineering research and education as the head of the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Engineering.
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Christine Ho with Brooks Kincaid

Christine Ho: Printing batteries

Alumni, Materials science
Christine Ho invented a new battery chemistry and a print-based manufacturing process to simultaneously fabricate and place microscopic batteries onto wireless sensors.
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Rachel Slaybaugh

Rachel Slaybaugh: The future of nuclear

Faculty, Nuclear engineering
Rachel Slaybaugh’s work is at the forefront of the movement to overhaul our nuclear industry —a key element in combating climate change. Her research examines the Boltzmann Transport Equation, which describes where all the neutrons are in a nuclear system.
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