Faculty

portrait of professor Andrea Goldsmith
June 2019

Congratulations to Professor Andrea Goldsmith for receiving the 2019 Qualcomm Faculty Award. Andrea is the Stephen Harris Professor in the School of Engineering. Her research interests are in information theory, communication theory, and signal processing, and their application to wireless communications, interconnected systems, and neuroscience.

Andrea introduced innovative approaches to the design, analysis and fundamental performance limits of wireless systems and networks. Her efforts helped develop technologies used in long-term evolution (LTE) cellular devices as well as the Wi-Fi standards that are used in wireless local area networks. She founded two companies to commercialize her work, which has led to the adoption of her ideas throughout the communications industry.

The Qualcomm Faculty Award (QFA) supports key professors and their research through a charitable donation. The goal of the QFA funding is to advance wireless communications research and to strengthen Qualcomm's engagement with faculty who are playing a key role in Qualcomm's recruitment of top graduate students.

 

Please join us in congratulating Andrea for this award!

 

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incoming EE professor Chelsea Finn
May 2019

Congratulations to incoming EE and CS professor Chelsea Finn. She was awarded the 2019 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award for her dissertation, "Learning to Learn with Gradients." In her thesis, Finn introduced algorithms for meta-learning that enable deep networks to solve new tasks from small datasets, and demonstrated how her algorithms can be applied in areas including computer vision, reinforcement learning and robotics.

Deep learning has transformed the artificial intelligence field and has led to significant advances in areas including speech recognition, computer vision and robotics. However, deep learning methods require large datasets, which aren't readily available in areas such as medical imaging and robotics.

Meta-learning is a recent innovation that holds promise to allow machines to learn with smaller datasets. Meta-learning algorithms "learn to learn" by using past data to learn how to adapt quickly to new tasks. However, much of the initial work in meta-learning focused on designing increasingly complex neural network architectures. In her dissertation, Finn introduced a class of methods called model-agnostic meta-learning (MAML) methods, which don't require computer scientists to manually design complex architectures. Finn's MAML methods have had tremendous impact on the field and have been widely adopted in reinforcement learning, computer vision and other fields of machine learning.

At a young age, Finn has become one of the most recognized experts in the field of robotic learning. She has developed some of the most effective methods to teach robots skills to control and manipulate objects. In one instance highlighted in her dissertation, she used her MAML methods to teach a robot reaching and placing skills, using raw camera pixels from just a single human demonstration.

Finn is a Research Scientist at Google Brain and a postdoctoral researcher at the Berkeley AI Research Lab (BAIR). In the fall of 2019, she will start a full-time appointment as an Assistant Professor at Stanford University. Finn received her PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley and a BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

Join us in congratulating Chelsea on this well-deserved award!

 

 

Source: www.acm.org/media-center/2019/may/dissertation-award-2018

image of Professor Shan Wang!
April 2019

[Excerpted from Stanford News]

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. and a growing problem around the world, but not because it's a particularly difficult cancer to detect and halt. The problem, doctors and researchers believe, is that not enough people are being screened for early signs of the disease, either because they do not know the recommendations or because they are avoiding getting a colonoscopy, which many perceive as an unpleasant procedure.

The current alternatives, said Professor Shan Wang, aren't exactly more pleasant – most of those involve gathering and testing stool samples.

But Shan, his graduate student Jared Nesvet and Uri Ladabaum, a professor of medicine, may have at least a possible solution: a blood test to detect colorectal cancer, which in principle would be less expensive, less invasive and more convenient than colonoscopies and other current tests, the researchers said. Wang and Nesvet have already developed a test that works in the controlled environment of a materials science lab, and now, with help from a Stanford ChEM-H seed grant, the trio are working to validate their approach in the real world of clinical medicine.

[...]

Shan and Nesvet have tested their idea in the lab, and it works well so far, Nesvet said. Now, with help from Ladabaum and the ChEM-H grant, they'll start testing it on blood samples from real patients. Among the questions they'll address are practical ones about how to identify the right people to study, when to draw blood or how to handle the samples.

"That's where we as clinical researchers can help," Ladabaum said.

Shan cautions that a new screen for colon cancer is still a ways off, and that it could involve hundreds, if not thousands, of blood samples before they can be confident their blood test really works. "I expect this will be a five- to 10-year study to bring this technology to fruition," he said.

 

Read full story, "Stanford doctors, materials scientists hope a blood test will encourage more colon cancer screenings."

 


 

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image of professor Jon Fan
April 2019

Professor of Electrical Engineering Jonathan Fan has won the 2019 Okawa Foundation Research Grant. The Research Grant Presentation Ceremony will occur in San Francisco later this year.

The mission of the Okawa Foundation is promotion and development in the field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) through awards and research grants as well as efforts to nurture researchers, engineers, and providers. It also seeks to promote diversity and ubiquitousness of human communication and thereby contribute to the peace and prosperity of humankind.

 

Please join us in congratulating Jonathan for this well-deserved award!

 

Read more about the Okawa Foundation: www.okawa-foundation.or.jp/en/outline/index.html

image of professor Eric Pop
April 2019

Professor Eric Pop was featured in a "People Behind the Science" podcast. People Behind the Science's mission is to inspire current and future scientists, share the different paths to a successful career in science, educate the general population on what scientists do, and show the human side of science. In each episode, a different scientist talks about their journey by sharing their successes, failures, and passions.

Excerpts of Eric's conversation follow.
Please visit People Behind the Science for the full episode.


The Scientific Side (timestamp 3:20)

Research in Eric's laboratory spans electronics, electrical engineering, physics, nanomaterials, and energy. They are interested in applying materials with nanoscale properties to engineer better electronics such as transistors, circuits, and data storage mechanisms. Eric is also investigating ways to better manage the heat that electronics generate.

A Dose of Motivation (timestamp 5:17)

Eric is motivated by curiosity and ensuring that the work they do in the lab is useful to people.

Advice For Us All (timestamp 53:40)

Clearly communicating your research is critically important. This includes all forms of communication, whether it is verbal, written, or visual. Before you give a presentation or communicate your work, you should really try to understand your audience. Get a sense of who they are, what they care about, and the best way to convey the cool things you are working on to them. Regardless of what career you choose, being able to share your ideas with people and convince them of the importance of your work will define your career.

 

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image of professor Srabanti Chowdhury
April 2019

Professor Srabanti Chowdhury has been awarded the Gabilan Faculty Fellowship. The Gabilan Fellows comprise a group of faculty whose aim is to contribute to the support of women in the sciences and engineering at Stanford. Srabanti was appointed by Provost Persis Drell and Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity Karen Cook. Gabilan Fellows have the opportunity to be part of a collegial and vibrant community from the biosciences, engineering, and natural and mathematical sciences.

Srabanti's research focuses on wideband gap (WBG) materials and device engineering for energy efficient and compact system architecture for power electronics, and RF applications. Besides Gallium Nitride, her group is exploring Diamond for various electronic applications. She received her B.Tech in India in Radiophysics and Electronics (Univ. of Calcutta) and her M.S and PhD in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Santa Barbara. She received the DARPA Young Faculty Award, NSF CAREER and AFOSR Young Investigator Program (YIP) in 2015. In 2016 she received the Young Scientist award at the International Symposium on Compound Semiconductors (ISCS). Among her various synergistic activities, she serves as the member of two committees under IEEE Electron Device Society (Compound Semiconductor Devices & Circuits Committee Members and Power Devices and ICs Committee). She has served the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) technical sub committee on Power Devices & Compound Semiconductor and High Speed Devices (PC) sub-committee in 2016 and 2017. She was the PC subcommittee chair for IEDM-2018, and continues to serve the IEDM executive committee for 2019. She is a senior member of IEEE.

 

Please join us in congratulating Srabanti on her well-deserved recognition!

 

image of Professor Balaji Prabhakar
April 2019

Professors Balaji Prabhakar and Darrell Duffie (GSB) held a moderated conversation about the next generation of finance and high-speed technologies.

Balaji described the accelerating timeframes that gird securities trading infrastructure, where the time from "tick to trade" is now measured in tens of nanoseconds. He also highlighted the potential problems and advantages to be gained by exploiting such lightning-fast speeds. At that nano-scale, it can be hard for networks to properly sequence packets of data being sent over even the faster fiber-optic wires. "If you see a price that's favorable to your trading strategy and you cross the gate ahead of me, then your transactions should happen first," he said. "Unfortunately, in the world where these networks have 'jitters,' this is not easy to guarantee."

The speakers also agreed that one way or another, massive disruption is coming for financial institutions. "There is a mantra that is being repeated on Wall Street, 'We are a tech company that happens to be an investment bank,'" said Balaji. Redefining the role of banks from being consumers of technology to creators of technology will mean that "any bank that's not big enough or not nimble enough is going to lose out," said Duffie.

 

Excerpted from "How is Silicon Valley changing Wall Street?", Stanford Engineering News, April 02, 2019

Watch the conversation in its entirety.

 

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image of Mendel Rosenblum [image credit: ACM]
April 2019

Professor Mendel Rosenblum has been awarded the inaugural ACM Charles P. Thacker Breakthrough Award. The award recognizes individuals or groups with the same out-of-the-box thinking and "can-do" approach to solving the unsolved that Charles Thacker exhibited. Mendel is the DRC Professor in the School of Engineering, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Electrical Engineering. He will formally receive the award at ACM's annual Awards Banquet in June, 2019.

Mendel is recognized for reinventing the virtual machine for the modern era and thereby revolutionizing datacenters and enabling modern cloud computing. In the late 1990s, Rosenblum and his students brought virtual machines back to life by using them to solve challenging technical problems in building system software for scalable multiprocessors. In 1998, Rosenblum and colleagues founded VMware. VMware popularized the use of virtual machines as a means of supporting many disparate software environments to share processor resources within a datacenter. This approach ultimately led to the development of modern cloud computing services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

"The new paradigm of cloud computing, in which computing services are delivered over the internet, has been one of the most important developments in the computing industry over the past 20 years," said ACM President Cherri M. Pancake. "Cloud computing has vastly improved the efficiency of systems, reduced costs, and been essential to the operations of businesses at all levels. However, cloud computing, as we know it today, would not be possible without Rosenblum's reinvention of virtual machines. His leadership, both through his early research at Stanford and his founding of VMware, has been indispensable to the rise of datacenters and the preeminence of the cloud."

 

Please join us in congratulating Mendel for this well-deserved recognition!

 

Excerpted from "Inaugural ACM Chuck Thacker Breakthrough Award Recognizes Fundamental Contributions that Enabled Cloud Computing", ACM's Latest Awards News, April 10, 2019.


 

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Dick Pantell

Richard H. Pantell, known widely as Dick, was born in New York City on Christmas Day, 1927. He passed away peacefully in San Mateo, CA on March 26, 2019 at age 91. He is survived by two daughters, Laurie Pantell and Sue Pantell, and his partner Carol Bergman. He was married to Leona Siff Pantell ( BA, 53, LLB 56, Stanford) until her passing in 1996.

Dick got his secondary education at the highly regarded Bronx High School of Science in New York City, graduating in 1944. After a year's study at CCNY, he enrolled at MIT as an Electrical Engineering major. He received both the BSEE and MSEE degrees from MIT in 1950, and his PhD at Stanford in 1954. His PhD supervisor was Professor David Tuttle, a very popular teacher of Network Theory to both graduate and undergraduate students. Professor Tuttle had received his PhD at MIT, studying under the direction of Prof. Ernst Guillemin, himself a network theorist of international reputation.

image of Professor Dick Pantell, Ginzton Lab
Dick Pantell's thesis was entitled " New Methods of Driving Point and Transfer Function Synthesis". It proved to be a classic in the field. The earliest work in the general field of passive network synthesis had been done at MIT by Dr. Otto Brune in 1931, who established the necessary and sufficient conditions for a network to be realizable using only resistors, capacitors and inductors. However his realizations sometimes required the use of ideal transformers. The need for ideal transformers was first removed by Dr. S. Darlington at Bell Labs in 1944, but with the constraint that the networks needed to be lossless: composed of only capacitors and inductors.

Dick Pantell's PhD thesis, written in 1954, presented the first general solution to the problem of synthesizing RLC networks with prescribed driving point and transfer characteristics without the limitations required in the Brune and Darlington solutions. It was truly a major contribution to the field. Other work had been done to remove the constraints of Brune and Darlington, but there was no general solution to the problem until Pantell produced one.

Dick was appointed as an Assistant Professor in EE at Stanford in 1956. He proved to be an excellent teacher and supervisor for PhD candidates. He was appointed a Full Professor in 1964.

The breadth of Dick's interests led him to change fields several times, always without fanfare. Following his pathbreaking work in network synthesis, Dick joined the Microwave Laboratory at Stanford to begin working on the design of Megawatt Space-Harmonic Travelling-Wave tubes and related devices. From there, over the next 25 years, he turned sequentially to the study of millimeter wave generation, ferroelectrics, lasers, non-linear optics and photon-electron effects. At the time of his passing, he was working on neutron physics and its application in several areas including materials analysis and medical treatment. His efforts to assist in the commercialization of a small neutron generator for radiology could have important applications in the targeted treatment of specific cancers for decades.

In addition to his scientific interests, he also read widely, bringing a characteristic depth to everything he did, including studying subjects at a sufficient level of detail to write papers and deliver lectures on them. Though he would have bristled at the description, he was what is often called a Renaissance Man.

March 2019

Professor Jelena Vuckovic has been named MPQ Distinguished Scholar, 2019. She leads the Stanford's Nanoscale and Quantum Photonics Lab and is Director of Q-FARM (Quantum Fundamentals, Architecture and Machines), a facility of the Stanford-SLAC Quantum Initiative. Jelena is currently a visiting scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics.

The MPQ award recognizes her groundbreaking contributions to the field of Nanoscale and Quantum Photonics. Jelena is the 7th scientist awarded this honor since the Institute was funded. Previous Distinguished Scholars 

 

Please join us in congratulating Jelena on her tremendous research contributions!

About the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics

Research concentrates on the interaction of light and matter under extreme conditions. One focus is the high-precision spectroscopy of hydrogen. In the course of these measurements Prof. Theodor W. Hänsch developed the frequency comb technique for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2005. Other experiments aim at capturing single atoms and photons and letting them interact in a controlled way, thus paving the way towards future quantum computers. Theorists on the other hand are working on strategies to communicate quantum information in a most efficient way. They develop algorithms that allow the safe encryption of secret information. MPQ scientists also investigate the bizarre properties quantum-mechanical many-body systems can take on at extremely low temperatures (about one millionth Kelvin above zero). Finally light flashes with the incredibly short duration of several attoseconds (1 as is a billionth of a billionth of a second) are generated which make it possible, for example, to observe quantum-mechanical processes in atoms such as the 'tunnelling' of electrons or atomic transitions in real time.

 

Excerpted from "Jelena Vučković named MPQ Distinguished Scholar", Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, March 28, 2019.


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