Dean's E-newsletter - December 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010
The Dean's Office

Note from Dean Ramirez

We are pleased to bring you this inaugural e-newsletter -- the first since I arrived as dean of the Baskin School in May 2009.  During this past year and a half, the students and faculty of the Baskin School have distinguished themselves by publishing breakthrough research, winning international prizes, and forming promising startup companies.  We take great pride in these achievements and, as you read the news articles, I hope that you too, will feel the excitement that is palpable on campus. Indeed, the Baskin School of Engineering has come a long way since it was established in 1997.  In fourteen short years, it has reached world-class status in several areas of engineering research.  The emerging pre-eminence of the school results from its embrace of long-held UCSC attributes: a keen focus on creativity, the insistence on excellence, and the desire for relevance.  The future is certain to reinforce the vision of the school's founders, that a public school of engineering close to Silicon Valley will have an inordinate impact on the region.  I look forward to sharing with you the continued growth in enrollment, research, and innovative applications of science technology as we continue to build the school.   
---Arthur P. Ramirez

Spotlight on Faculty

Ed Green, Assistant Professor, Biomolecular Engineering

Ed GreenAfter extracting ancient DNA from the 40,000-year-old bones of Neanderthals, scientists have obtained a draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome, yielding important new insights into the evolution of modern humans.  Among the findings, published in the May 7th issue of Science, is evidence that shortly after early modern humans migrated out of Africa, some of them interbred with Neanderthals, leaving bits of Neanderthal DNA sequences scattered through the genomes of present-day non-Africans.  "We can now say that, in all probability, there was gene flow from Neanderthals to modern humans," said the paper's first author, Richard E. (Ed) Green, an assistant professor of biomolecular engineering in the Baskin School.  Green began working on the Neanderthal genome as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.  The researchers identified a catalog of genetic features unique to modern humans by comparing the Neanderthal, human, and chimpanzee genomes. Genes involved in cognitive development, skull structure, energy metabolism, and skin morphology and physiology are among those highlighted in the study as likely to have undergone important changes in recent human evolution.  "With this paper, we are just scratching the surface," Green said. "The Neanderthal genome is a goldmine of information about recent human evolution, and it will be put to use for years to come."

This research was selected as one of Science magazine's "Breakthroughs of 2010", see: Science

Recent Awards

Computer Scientists Greg Levin, Caitlin Sadowski, Ian Pye and Scott Brandt win Best Paper at ECRTS 2010

UCSC Computer Scientist a Winner in 'news challenge' for Innovative Project  -

Electrical Engineer Ph.D. Students and Professors Hamid R. Sadjadpour and JJ Garcia-Luna-Aceves Win Best Paper Award at IEEE European Wireless 2010 Conference  -

Computer Science Ph.D. Student Tim Kaldewey and Scott Brandt to win Best Paper Award at SIGMOD 2010

Anna Povzner, Computer Science Ph.D. student, and Scott Brandt to win Best Paper Award  -

Electrical engineer Michael Isaacson honored by Microscopy Society of America  -

Matthew Guthaus Named Recipient of 2010 ACM SIGDA Distinguished Service Award  -

Engineers Milanfar and Vesecky named 2010 IEEE Fellows 

Three UCSC professors elected 2009 AAAS Fellows

 Five faculty members win 2009 NSF CAREER awards  -

Haussler and Kent honored by American Society of Human Genetics  -

Artificial retina project wins R&D 100 Award  -

Don Chamberlin to receive 2009 Fellow Award from Computer History Museum  -

BSOE Events

Computer Engineering Celebrates 23rd Anniversary

The Department of Computer Engineering at the Jack Baskin School ofCE23 Engineering celebrated its 23rd anniversary with an alumni reunion on Saturday, September 25th, where close to eighty alumni and friends braved the Santa Cruz heat wave to partake in a full day's worth of festivities!

The day's program included an intimate group lunch, laboratory and facilities tours, afternoon alumni and faculty talks, and a networking reception, where folks had a chance to cool off with a tall glass of lemonade!

Alumni and former faculty speakers included Wayne Dai, CEO of VeriSilicon, Gunjan Sinha '91, executive chairman of MetricStream and a UCSC Foundation trustee, as well as Carl Steiner '88, chief design engineer at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

Research Review Day

The Baskin School of Engineering held its annual Research Review Day on October 21, 2010.  Talks by faculty were organized along the themes: BioTechnology, Energy, and Human Centered Design. The plenary speakers were Dr. Jonathan Trent from NASA Ames Lab, who spoke on oil-producing algae, Dr. William Young who spoke on the founding of Genetech, and Dr. David Yager, Dean of Arts at UCSC, who spoke on Engineering Design. In its fourth year of existence, the RRD attracted a diverse audience of technology leaders from both Santa Cruz as well as Silicon Valley. The event was so well attended that many of the talks were given to standing room only audiences. In the Santa Cruz Sentinels' article about the event, Dean Ramirez explained the goal of RRD. "This event gives our colleagues and industry partners in Silicon Valley an opportunity to learn about groundbreaking research by our faculty and students who are addressing a wide variety of problems in areas that are critical for business, the environment, and humanity."   The article also discusses Provost Galloway's observation that UCSC is "known for pioneering research that transforms discipines," UCSC's recent performance in NRC rankings that recognized "excellence in its electrical engineering and computer engineering programs",  and the campus accomplishment of receiving over $1 billion in research funding over the past decade.  A growing portion of campus research funding is through the research programs of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering.


Contact us:

Dean's Office -- 831-459-4877 or

Development/Alumni Office -- 831-459-1420 or


Did you know....

UCSC Ranked 4th in Citation Impact

UCSC excels in citation impact, the most recent evidence coming from the world university rankings of 2010. In this comprehensive world-wide survey, UCSC was ranked 4th among the top North American universities for citation impact (number of citations per published paper) after CalTech, MIT, and Princeton, and just above Stanford.

Electrical Engineering Graduate Program Among Best in Country  

The Electrical Engineering department in the Jack Baskin School of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz has earned high marks in a report issued recently by the National Research Council (NRC). UCSC's Ph.D. program in electrical engineering was judged to be among the best in the country, based on the NRC's assessment of research activity--this being a widely accepted measure of program excellence.  

As a relatively young department founded barely ten years ago, and with a steadily growing portfolio of cutting edge research programs, the EE faculty have received numerous national and international honors and awards for their innovative work.

They have been elected as Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Association of Computing Machinery, to name a few. They have been awarded prestigious fellowships such as those from the Sloan Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In addition, they have been recipients of the IEEE Third Millennium Medal, the Rank Prize in Optoelectronics, the Mac Van Valkenberg Award of the IEEE, and the James C. McGroddy Prize of the American Physical Society. Several Electrical Engineering faculty have won NSF CAREER Awards. 

The recent NRC assessment places UCSC's EE department in a category competitive with significantly more established and larger departments such as those at Cornell, UC San Diego, UT Austin, Duke, Purdue, Minnesota, Columbia, Wisconsin, and Rice. Measured specifically as a function of number of publications per faculty, citation impact of publications, and the percentage of faculty with research grants, UCSC EE ranks among the top fifteen departments in the nation.

Computer Engineering Top in Nation for Citation Impact

In terms of publication impact, the Baskin School of Engineering's Computer Engineering (CE) program is ranked first in the nation among CE departments and sixth among Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) departments, according to the NRC's report joining several other UCSC programs with notable achievements.

The Department, founded in 1984, was one of the first Computer Engineering departments in the country. The department has developed unique interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate research in the design of computers and computer-based systems. Since that time, the department and its faculty catalyzed the creation of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering and many of its programs while expanding its own areas of excellence in computer engineering and related fields.

Current areas of excellence and prominence include computer networks, computer architecture and VLSI design, robotics and control, and assistive technologies for persons with special needs. In addition to its graduate and undergraduate programs in computer engineering, the department co-sponsors UCSC's undergraduate B.S. in bioengineering and the new graduate minor in Robotics and Control, and is planning a B.S. program in robotics engineering.  Regarding its high achievement in research impact, Chair and Baskin Professor J.J. Garcia-Luna-Aceves notes that "although we are small, it is clear that we do great research at the PhD level."

Alumni News

By: Sukhie Bal, Associate Director of Development

The Baskin Alumni Advisory Council (BAAC) was officially launched earlier this year by a group of sixteen dedicated alumni who are committed to providing guidance and leadership to the dean, faculty, students, and alumni of the Baskin School. 

Inaugural Chair, Daniel Heller '85, best captured the sentiments of why alumni were compelled to join the BAAC in stating, "I came to realize just how important higher education is to the fostering of intelligent, critical thinking. This is where you can affect the people that make things happen in the world."

Members provide assistance in maintaining, building, and promoting the School in the following areas: Marketing and Branding; Student Advisory and Industry Connections; Private Philanthropy Support and Resource Development; Interdisciplinary Collaborations and Entrepreneurial Engagements; and Alumni Engagements.  For more information on the BAAC, please contact Sukhie Bal, Associate Director of Development at, or (831) 459-1769.


  • Scholarship Benefit Dinner - February 26, 2011, Fairmont Hotel, San Jose

  • National Engineers Week - February 20-26, 2011