Baskin News Beat 2017

The Baskin News Beat is a new BSOE bulletin for sharing successes, anecdotes, insider information, goings on, and other information not generally communicated via other channels such as Tuesday Newsday and email announcements.

There are many good things happening here in the Baskin School of Engineering. I invite you to share your stories, successes and insider information with the BSOE community. Just email to at any time. 

Alexander L. Wolf, Dean

Baskin News Beat - May 2017

It's what's happening!


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.
    Read more

  • 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. 

    Read more

  • 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).
    Read more

  • 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.  
    Read more

  • 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.
    Read more

  • 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.
    Read more


  • 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. 
    Read more

    Pourmand's technology, Nanopipette apparatus for manipulating cells, is a new biotechnology for controlling single cells. 
    Read more

  • 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. 
    Read more

  • 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.
    Read more

  • 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. 
    Read full article

  • 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. 
    Read full article
  • 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. 
    Read full article

  • 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. 
    Read full article

  • 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. 
    Read full article

  • 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. 
    Read full article

  • 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. 
    Read full article

  • 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. 
    Read full article



Baskin News Beat - March 2017



  • Katherine Isbister's book, How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design, was awarded Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association
    Every year, the American Library Association's Choice magazine publishes a list of Outstanding Academic Titles. Katherine Isibister's book, How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design was selected, based on criteria including overall excellence in presentation and scholarship, originality and/or uniqueness of treatment, and importance in building undergraduate library collections. The book explores how video games influence empathy, emotion, and social connection. Isbister challenges the stereotype that games produce indifferent and antisocial players; rather, she argues that game designers create supportive environments for emotional and social growth.
    Read more
  • Phokion Kolaitis was invited to join the Scientific Advisory Board of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing
    Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Principal Research Staff Member of the Theory Group at the IBM Almaden Research Center, Phokion Kolaitis was invited to join the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing. Comprising 16-20 members with broad scientific vision, expert knowledge of theoretical computer science, and a record of scientific leadership, the SAB provides broad-based external advice and guidance to the Institute's leadership team on a wide range of programmatic issues.
    Read more

Insider Information

  • Humans of BSOE: A new project featuring the humans who make up the Baskin School of Engineering
    The Humans of the Baskin School of Engineering (Humans of BSOE) is one of many new projects in the Baskin School of Engineering. Based on Brandon Stanton's popular and ongoing photo project Humans of New YorkHumans of BSOE features the stories of the humans who make up the Baskin School of Engineering and will eventually include faculty, students and staff. 
    Go to Humans of BSOE
  • Find more funding opportunities: UC Santa Cruz Office of Research purchases subscription to GrantForward 
    UCSC now has an institutional subscription to the funding opportunity database GrantForward. New grant opportunities are posted daily. 
    Go to GrantForward

How To

  • Sign up for weekly engineering news from the UCSC Newscenter
    Did you know you can sign up for weekly engineering news and other categories from the UCSC Newscenter? In fewer than 20 seconds (so they say), you can sign up to receive one news update per category each week. Or you can subscribe to a monthly newsletter to get the current month's news and events.
    Sign up to receive news

Goings On

  • Faculty, alums, and students attend the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco
    Baskin School of Engineering was well-represented at the 2017 Game Developers Conference, the world's largest professional game industry event, earlier this month. With more than 27,000 attendees, those involved in the development of interactive games and virtual reality came together to exchange ideas and help shape the future of the industry. Jim Whitehead gave a talk about university games programs and partnering with industry and Michael Mateas and Katherine Isbister ran the Education Summit. Several students and alums gave talks, too.
    Learn more

Bears Repeating

  • Two Baskin School of Engineering faculty received NSF CAREER awards this year
    Peter Alvaro, assistant professor of computer science and Jishen Zhao, assistant professor of computer engineering were awarded Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF presents the CAREER award to faculty "who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research." The awards provide funding to support the recipients' research, teaching and outreach activities.
    Read full article
  • UCSC Biomolecular Engineer Russ Corbett-Detig wins Sloan Research Fellowship
    The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship to Russ Corbett-Detig, assistant professor of biomolecular engineering at UC Santa Cruz. The prestigious two-year fellowship includes a grant of $60,000 to support Corbett-Detig's research, which focuses on evolutionary genetics and bioinformatics. Awarded annually since 1955, Sloan Research Fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars, the next generation of scientific leaders.
    Read full article
  • UCSC Grad Slam Winner envisions surfing on shrimp shells
    Twelve UC Santa Cruz graduate students provided brief glimpses into their ongoing research in the third annual campuswide Grad Slam, a three-minute elevator pitch competition to encourage better storytelling about complex academic topics. Two Baskin School of Engineering students came out on top. John Felts, a second year Ph.D. electrical engineering student, earned top marks for his talk about creating environmentally friendly surfboard foam from the shells of shrimp. He won $3,000 and the opportunity to compete in a UC-wide competition on May 4.  Sam Mansfield, whose research into how technology can help avoid the epidemic of bed sores among the elderly and most vulnerable, earned second place honors and $1,500. He also won the coveted People's Choice Award, which came with a $750 prize.
    Read full article
  • UC Santa Cruz hosts Giving Day 2017 - 100+ projects
    Building on the success of last year's event, Giving Day 2017 brought in 5,673 gifts totaling $525,284. Projects initiated by Baskin School of Engineering students, staff and faculty did well, raising nearly $65,000 in total. Formula Slug won the Final Frenzy match, a bonus $10,000, for having the most donors all day.    

    Formula Slug raised $20,564 from 449 gifts
    Girls in Engineering raised $12,860 from 52 gifts
    Plant the Seed for Big Dreamers (STEM Diversity) raised $10,676 from 214 gifts
    Academic Excellence (ACE) Program raised $10,938 from 136 gifts
    Women in Science and Engineering raised $4,439 from 54 gifts
    iGEM 2017 raised $2,491 from 157 gifts 
    MESA: Opening Pathways to College and STEM raised $1,260 from 33 gifts
    Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers raised $1,051 from 16 gifts
    Hack-y-thon raised $430 from 23 gifts
    Trash Toss Game for Sustainability raised $160 from 6 gifts

    Read full article

  • Baskin Engineering Director of Undergraduate Affairs wins award
    Dr. Carmen Robinson, Director of Undergraduate Affairs for the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz, was awarded the Bonita C. Jacobs Transfer Champions Award for her work to improve the process and experience for students transferring from two-year institutions to four-year institutions. The award is given to individuals whose efforts have made a significant contribution to the improvement of transfer student access and success.  
    Read full article
  • Two Pore Guys gear up for a big year
    Two Pore Guys makes a hand-held digital single-molecule sensor based on solid state nanopore technology with applications in medical diagnostics, agriculture, food safety and environmental monitoring. The company's founder and CEO, William Dunbar, is a former Baskin School of Engineering faculty member. 
    Read full article

Now and Then
Speaking of Bill Dunbar ... 


Bill Dunbar and Joel Ferguson. 
Top: 2016
Bottom: 2004 (Dunbar); 1987 (Ferguson) 
Photos by Roberto Manduchi