05/02/08 — There were plenty of clues around campus that April was Earth Month: tree plantings, conferences and summits, awarding of Sustainability Awards and granting of Green Initiative grants. But the maturity of UC Berkeley as a hub of sustainability awareness and action goes far deeper; Berkeley marks Earth Day every day, and its efforts are being felt on campus and far beyond.
05/02/08 — There are about six billion base pairs in the human genome, and our family tree includes about six billion living humans. So, although DNA sequencing begins in a laboratory, it requires research-level computer science and statistics to crunch the resulting mass of data and make sense of the results. As EECS and statistics professor Yun Song remarks, “Just 15 years ago, it was very difficult for population genetics researchers to run their computationally intensive analyses on desktop computers. It's thanks to relatively recent improvements in computers and algorithms that these problems have become tractable.”
05/02/08 — Computer mice are a weighty matter for BingYune Chen. Chen, a senior who graduates this month in bioengineering, is studying how weight affects the speed, accuracy and ease of use of a computer mouse. “It's a new issue,” says the 22-year-old Chen, who helped conduct a pilot project as an undergraduate researcher at the UCSF–UCB Ergonomics Laboratory, where he is now an employee. While extensive research has been done on the design of computer mice, Chen says, little is known about mouse weight and its impact on performance.
05/02/08 — For Berkeley-trained Sung-Mo "Steve" Kang, the work of a university chancellor is a lot like engineering. "Think of integrated circuits," says Kang (Ph.D. '75 EECS), who in March began his second year at the helm of UC Merced. Just as a chip relies on a network of connections to operate smoothly, so does a college campus. With that in mind, Kang is taking a collaborative approach to building his young institution into a world-class research university.
04/02/08 — Yes, it is a bold foreign partnership that has generated considerable controversy. But it is also an unprecedented opportunity for UC Berkeley to get involved at ground level in building a new research university, performing stellar multinational research, and facilitating constructive relationships in the Middle East.
04/02/08 — For years, nanoengineers have known how to create tiny wire transistors, sensors, light emitters and other useful components, but there's been no sure way to assemble them into integrated circuits because they're too small to manipulate. “You could look at things under a microscope, but you couldn't touch them,” explains EECS professor Ming Wu. But Wu and his research group have developed “optoelectronic tweezers” that can individually address wires and other nanoscale objects and convey them to precise locations. This has been the field's most challenging problem, and solving it paves the way for an entire class of devices from microdisplays to medical imaging tools.
04/02/08 — It's no surprise that a Google search for Peter Norvig turns up tens of thousands of hits. Norvig (Ph.D. '86 EECS) literally wrote the book on artificial intelligence, coauthoring a bestselling textbook on the subject with Professor Stuart Russell in 1995. As the senior computer scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, he led the team that developed the remote artificial intelligence software that flew aboard the Deep Space 1 spacecraft in 1999. And today, as Google's director of research, Norvig is transforming the way information is organized and accessed on the Web.
04/02/08 — George Ban-Weiss will soon have a new title to accompany his growing fame in Bay Area jazz circles. The professional bass player is about to become a Ph.D. Having performed at such venues as Yoshi's in Oakland, the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, and Smalls in New York City, Ban-Weiss expects to receive his doctorate in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley in May. The 27-year-old is wrapping up research exploring emissions from gas and diesel vehicles and their respective impact on air quality.
03/02/08 — UC Berkeley just conducted an unprecedented collaborative experiment involving 100 cars equipped with GPS-enabled cell phones to monitor real-time traffic flow over a seven-hour period on a 10-mile stretch of I-880. You can read more details about the project and its success in Abby Cohn's delightful story in this month's issue.
03/02/08 — Are voting machines secure? Not according to EECS professor David Wagner. Wagner, a computer security expert, explains that the main problem with current voting machines is that they are built on top of standard, non-secure computer hardware and operating systems. To ensure proper security for something as important as a voting machine, the security must be designed into the system from the ground up. Superficially, voting machines seem like ATMs. But what makes voting machines much more difficult, Wagner explains, is the secret ballot. A trustworthy system must break the link between the voter and votes in a way that cannot be reversed.
03/02/08 — Early in his career, Network Appliance cofounder James Lau ventured out in hopes of developing one of the first hand-held personal computers. His PDA would have used a stylus to enter notes, appointments and other data, but after six months of work in 1991, he scrapped the project. But Lau never regretted his unsuccessful quest. When it comes to innovation, “there's no guarantee,” he says. “That's part of the exploration. You just need to move on.” Move on, he did. Today, Network Appliance has Fortune 1000 status, and last month James Lau received the 2007 Berkeley Engineering Innovation Award for lifetime achievement.
03/02/08 — On February 8, 26-year-old mechanical engineering student Kenneth Armijo hit the road in a unique experiment exploring the use of GPS-equipped cell phones as traffic monitors. Nearly 150 UC Berkeley students were behind-the-wheel participants in the “Mobile Century” test. Navigating a fleet of 100 cars carrying special mobile phones, the student drivers traveled up and down a 10-mile stretch of the Nimitz Freeway for more than seven hours. The result was a computerized map bristling with tiny flags for each car and its velocity, creating a detailed picture of actual traffic conditions.
02/02/08 — A team of Cal undergraduates has demonstrated how genetically modified E. coli bacteria might be converted into a cheap-and safe-blood substitute. The engineered product, called “Bactoblood,” addresses a global shortage of human blood for transfusions, particularly in developing countries and emergency situations, the young developers say.
02/02/08 — When the governor speaks about our profession, we listen. In the run-up to his January state of the state address, Governor Schwarzenegger invoked some startling statistics about our engineering workforce and proposed a plan to fortify it.
02/02/08 — For 10 years, mechanical engineering professor Dennis Lieu moonlighted as an instructor in the martial art of taekwondo. Concerned about safety, he began testing commercial martial arts headgear that had become standard and required for competitions. His results were startling: many of the helmets failed his tests and would not prevent injuries. His continued research has produced the first technical standard for martial arts protective headgear.
02/02/08 — Rula Deeb (M.S'94, Ph.D'99 CEE), a senior associate at the environmental consulting firm Malcolm Pirnie in Emeryville, has helped water utilities, government agencies, industries and others cope with pollution in wastewater treatment plants and groundwater basins stretching from California to Tennessee. She specializes in bioremediation, a process that deploys naturally occurring microorganisms to attack and degrade hazardous contaminants.
01/02/08 — EECS undergraduate Henry Wang had never heard of Enrico Caruso until last year. That's a surprising admission given that the 21-year-old senior now spends hours weekly scrutinizing the famed tenor's rendition of La Donna è Mobile. Wang is part of an ambitious project that seeks to preserve historic collections of music, speeches and other audio recordings dating back to the earliest days of recorded sound.
01/02/08 — In remote villages along Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, the seemingly simple act of switching on a light is anything but simple. It's usually impossible. Mathias Craig (B.S'01 CEE) wants to change that. Craig, 29, is cofounder of blueEnergy, a nonprofit organization that is harnessing the power of the wind to illuminate homes, schools and rural clinics in an impoverished region where nearly 80 percent of the population have no electricity. Since 2004, blueEnergy has brought wind turbines to six Nicaraguan communities, providing electricity to some 1,500 people.
01/02/08 — As the biotech industry has grown, Professors Lee Schruben, Rob Leachman and Phil Kaminsky of Berkeley's Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) have watched the young field bring lifesaving new drugs to market. They have also seen that their potential benefit to society isn't always realized when these drugs are priced out of reach or when stocks run short. Recognizing that some good IEOR principles could address these problems, they organized the first NSF symposium on Biomanufacturing and Logistics Systems in 2006.
01/02/08 — As someone who came to Berkeley 30 years ago as an international student, I was pleased to see that international enrollments are up significantly for the first time since the post-September 11 backlash cast a chill over immigrant-friendly policies at U.S. colleges and universities.