Faculty

image of prof. Shan X. Wang
April 2020

Professor Shan X. Wang helped author a paper titled, "A mountable toilet system for personalized health monitoring via the analysis of excreta" that was published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

The 'smart toilet' is fitted with technology that can detect a range of disease markers in stool and urine, including those of some cancers, such as colorectal or urologic cancers. The device could be particularly appealing to individuals who are genetically predisposed to certain conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, prostate cancer or kidney failure, and want to keep on top of their health.

"Our concept dates back well over 15 years," said lead author Sanjiv "Sam" Gambhir, professor and chair of radiology. "When I'd bring it up, people would sort of laugh because it seemed like an interesting idea, but also a bit odd." With a pilot study of 21 participants now completed, Gambhir and his team have made their vision of a precision health-focused smart toilet a reality.

Gambhir's toilet is an ordinary toilet outfitted with gadgets inside the bowl. These tools, a suite of different technologies, use motion sensing to deploy a mixture of tests that assess the health of any deposits. Urine samples undergo physical and molecular analysis; stool assessment is based on physical characteristics.

The toilet automatically sends data extracted from any sample to a secure, cloud-based system for safekeeping. In the future, the system could be integrated into any health care provider's record-keeping system for quick and easy access.

 

Excerpted from "'Smart toilet' monitors for signs of disease," Stanford Medicine News Center, April 2020

 

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prof Andrea Goldsmith
April 2020

By Tom Abate, School of Engineering

After 21 years as a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, Andrea Goldsmith has been named dean of Princeton University's School of Engineering and Applied Science, effective September 1.

"A piece of my heart will always remain at Stanford," said Goldsmith, who has supervised 27 doctoral students and 23 postdoctoral scholars, in addition to serving as a former chair of the Faculty Senate, and current member of that body, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees Committee on Finance and of the University Budget Group.

Goldsmith, who received her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, taught at the California Institute of Technology before joining the Stanford faculty in 1999. She was named the Stephen Harris Professor of Engineering in 2012.

A leader in the fields of information theory and communications, Goldsmith helped lay the mathematical foundations for increasing the capacity, speed and range of wireless systems, and among her 29 patents are many inventions central to cell phone and Wi-Fi networks. Through her affiliation with Stanford's Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, Goldsmith has continued to explore the interdisciplinary ramifications of some of the theories and principles she discovered in her communications and signal processing research.

As a scholar, she has been the author, co-author or editor of six books, and has produced hundreds of journal papers and conference publications and papers. Among her many professional affiliations, she has served on the Board of Governors for the IEEE Information Theory Society and the IEEE Communications Society, and as president of the IEEE Information Theory Society. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, two of the highest honors in U.S. academia.

An advocate for increased diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in academia and the tech industry, Goldsmith served on the Stanford Faculty Women's Forum Steering Committee, a group focused on improving recruitment, retention, support and overall satisfaction of women faculty, and serves as founding chair of the IEEE Board of Directors Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Ethics.

On the business front, Goldsmith co-founded a company that produces chips for high-performance Wi-Fi systems, which went public in 2016, and later co-founded a privately held firm that makes home Wi-Fi mesh networks. In addition to serving as a technical advisor to two companies, she sits on the board of directors of Medtronic, a medical device maker, and Crown Castle, a communications infrastructure company.

"I am deeply grateful to my esteemed faculty colleagues and my brilliant and passionate students and postdocs for the honor and privilege of working with them these last 21 years," Goldsmith said. "I am also grateful to my department and school for providing the framework in which my research and teaching could thrive. Stanford's innovative spirit and constant quest for excellence and impact, coupled with its thoughtful and wise faculty and leaders, have been a source of inspiration throughout my time here."

As dean at Princeton, she will oversee a school comprising six departments and four research centers, and will oversee new initiatives in bioengineering, data science and robotics, among others.

"I know I speak for all of us in the School of Engineering when I say we will miss Andrea greatly," said Jennifer Widom, the Frederick Emmons Terman Dean of the School of Engineering and the Fletcher Jones Professor in Computer Science and professor of electrical engineering.

"Simply put, she is an extraordinary scholar, educator and university citizen. Her outstanding innovative research and mentorship, commitment to diversity, and leadership in a range of significant university-wide committees and working groups have set an example for us all," Widom said. "We are proud of all that she has accomplished, and we know that the students, faculty and staff at Princeton's School of Engineering and Applied Science are incredibly fortunate that she will be their new dean."

 

Please join us in congratulating Andrea on her exciting future at Princeton!

Professor Chelsea Finn
April 2020

Professor Chelsea Finn studies intelligence through robotic interaction at scale, and is affiliated with SAIL and the Statistical ML Group. In addition to teaching, she does research projects with her PhD students, and runs her lab. She also does research work with the Google Brain Team.

She was interviewed by Synced as part of their 'Women in AI' special project. Modified excerpts from that article follow. 

Chelsea graduated with her Bachelor's in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT and completed her PhD in computer science at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation "Learning to Learn with Gradients" won the 2018 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award.

Chelsea is actively concerned about the broad impacts of underrepresentation. "I worry about people feeling like they don't fit in, that there aren't people that look like them in a place," she said.

At a young age, Chelsea really enjoyed solving puzzles and problems, and with both parents being engineers she knew that engineering was one way to do that. Chelsea chose to major in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering because she believed that would leave many doors open for her to try different things later down the line. As she became more and more drawn to robotics, machine learning, and AI, she realized the need to go to grad school and do research if she hoped to make new advances and develop new algorithms.

Chelsea says when she started her PhD she wasn't planning to stay in academia because making products in the industry was more appealing. But things didn't go as planned when she later realized the greater long-term impact she could have through research and teaching.

Currently Chelsea helps pair undergrads with grad students in AI so that they can learn firsthand what grad school is like, what's exciting about doing research, and steps they should consider if they are interested in research and AI. 

She has also been helping with other outreach programs for high school students through AI4ALL, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in AI education, research, development, and policy. The nonprofit was co-founded in 2015 by Professor Fei-Fei Li. The first program that the team launched was SAILORS — a summer outreach program for high school girls to learn about human-centered AI.

Chelsea is also well aware that it takes time for any trends to really lead to concrete, measurable improvement, especially since the number of women studying or pursuing a career in computer science has remained low over the past decade.

It's still a work in progress, and fixing the pipeline isn't the entire problem, she added. "I think there's still more that can be improved — in terms of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment."

 

Excerpted from Synced, "Women in AI | Chelsea Finn: 'I Certainly Feel Like a Minority'" March 30, 2020


 

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image of professor Krishna Shenoy
April 2020

Researchers from Professor Krishna Shenoy's Group: Saurabh Vyas (Bioengineering PhD candidate), Daniel O'Shea (EE postdoctoral researcher), and Professor Stephen Ryu, M.D. have found that the brain is deeply interested in what happens before you make a movement. Their paper was published in cell.com's Neuron.

Existing theories focus on the practice part — the repetition — not the preparation.
In fact, prior to this study, neuroscientists had no reason to think this preparatory state played any part in learning, says Krishna Shenoy. "We're saying that preparation not only has something to do with learning, it might actually be one of the biggest parts of it," adds Krishna who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

To arrive at this new understanding, the researchers explored how monkeys learn a relatively simple motion: how to use a videogame joystick. In a series of experiments, they first trained the monkeys to use the joystick to direct a computer cursor toward a target on the screen. Next, the scientists altered how the joystick worked so that when the monkeys moved the joystick in the direction they thought was upward or leftward or rightward, the cursor moved in a different direction than expected. Thus, the animals had to learn to move the joysticks anew to get the cursor to the target.

Saurabh Vyas uses an analogy to explain the significance of these findings. Imagine LeBron practicing free throws. He shoots the ball, and gets close, and his learning system uses the error to make some changes in the brain. But if his brain activity is disrupted during the planning period — or he doesn't take an instant to pre-visualize the shot — his next attempt will not do as well because he wasn't mindful enough during the critical, pre-movement period.

These findings significantly advance our understanding of the neurological underpinnings of learning. It has long been known that motor and other areas in the brain become active prior to movement. During this preparatory phase, brain activity reflects precise details of how the body should complete a movement.

Consequently, giving the mind more time to prepare — more time to visualize the task at hand — substantially improves learning. From a purely practical standpoint, the findings could reshape how athletes, artists, musicians or anyone who moves their body gets better at what they do.

Ultimately, Krishna and Saurabh hope to apply this new understanding to their specialty: developing prosthetic devices that are controlled by chips implanted in the brain that transform an individual's thoughts into movement. Krishna adds, "The more we understand about how the brain learns new motor skills and performs movement calculations, the more lifelike and realistic we can make thought-controlled prosthetics."

 

Excerpted from Stanford Engineering,"A team of scientists explore how the brain trains muscles to move" February 26, 2020.

 

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image of Prof. Goldsmith, framer of NAE's diversity statement
March 2020

Approved by NAE Council in early February, the statement, definitions and goals establish a clear framework relevant to NAE members, staff and volunteers.

Members of NAE's Committee on Diversity and Inclusion are Aziz I. Asphahani, Lauren Bartolozzi, Corale L. Brierley (committee chair), David E. Daniel, Andrea Goldsmith, Wesley L. Harris, Enrique J. Lavernia, Julia M. Phillips and Wanda A. Sigur.

In addition to the statement, the committee established goals and how they will be implemented and measured. Complete definitions and goal details are available on NAE.edu.

 

Please join us in embracing the important work being done by the NAE to promote a vibrant and diverse engineering profession.

National Academy of Engineering's Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Statement and Goals

The National Academy of Engineering requires and values the diversity of its members, staff, volunteers, and others who seek to contribute and recognizes inclusion and equity are vital to ensure all viewpoints, perspectives, and talents are brought to bear in addressing our nation's critical engineering and technology challenges and promoting a vibrant engineering profession.

Goal 1: Embrace Diversity
Goal 2: Drive Inclusion
Goal 3: Expect Equity

Read full statement on NAE.edu


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image of Professor Pat Hanrahan, 2019 Turing Award winner
March 2020

Congratulations to professor Pat Hanrahan and Ed Catmull

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) named Pat Hanrahan and Edwin (Ed) Catmull recipients of the 2019 ACM A.M. Turing Award for fundamental contributions to 3-D computer graphics, and revolutionary impact of these techniques on computer-generated imagery (CGI) in filmmaking and other applications.

Pat Hanrahan, Canon Professor in the School of Engineering, said "The announcement came totally out of the blue and I am very proud to accept the Turing Award. It is a great honor, but I must give credit to a generation of computer graphics researchers and practitioners whose work and ideas influenced me over the years."

"All of us at Stanford are tremendously proud of Pat and his accomplishments, and I am delighted that he and his colleague Ed Catmull are being recognized with the prestigious Turing Award," said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. "Pat has made pioneering contributions to the field of computer graphics. His work has had a profound impact on filmmaking and has created new artistic possibilities in film, video games, virtual reality and more."

The ACM A.M. Turing Award, often referred to as the "Nobel Prize of Computing," carries a $1 million prize, with financial support provided by Google, Inc. It is named for Alan M. Turing, the British mathematician who articulated the mathematical foundation and limits of computing.

Please join us in congratulating Pat and Ed on receiving the 2019 ACM A.M. Turing Award.

 

Excerpted from ACM Turing Award and news.stanford.edu/2020/03/18/pat-hanrahan-wins-turing-award/

 

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Image credit: Andrew Brodhead

image of EE professors Dwight Nishimura and John Pauly
February 2020

Professors Dwight Nishimura, John Pauly, and Albert Macovski lead the Magnetic Resonance Systems Research Lab (MRSRL) in Electrical Engineering. Their lab designs new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques and equipment for improved disease diagnosis and treatment. These technologies enable MRI scanning with greater speed, clarity, contrast, and comfort. Students and staff work with physicians on imaging solutions for major health problems such as cancer, heart disease, blood vessel disease, and joint pain.

Recently, Dwight and John joined the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of HeartVista, a pioneer in AI-assisted MRI solutions. The company uses technology that originated in their research lab, MRSRL. Additional details on the MRSRL research can be found on the lab's website: mrsrl.stanford.eduBoth Dwight and John are recipients the highest honor from the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine – the Gold Medal.

Photo source: mrsrl.stanford.edu

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image of professor Shanhui Fan and postdoc researcher Avik Dutt
February 2020

 

Professor Shanhui Fan and postdoctoral researcher Avik Dutt describe their discovery in an article published in Science.

Essentially, the researchers tricked the photons — which are intrinsically non-magnetic — into behaving like charged electrons. They accomplished this by sending the photons through carefully designed mazes in a way that caused the light particles to behave as if they were being acted upon by what the scientists called a "synthetic" or "artificial" magnetic field.

In the short term, this control mechanism could be used to send more internet data through fiber optic cables. In the future, this discovery could lead to the creation of light-based chips that would deliver far greater computational power than electronic chips. "What we've done is so novel that the possibilities are only just beginning to materialize," said EE postdoc Avik Dutt.

Although still in the experimental stage, these structures represent an advance on the existing mode of computing. Storing information is all about controlling the variable states of particles, and today, scientists do so by switching electrons in a chip on and off to create digital zeroes and ones. A chip that uses magnetism to control the interplay between the photon's color (or energy level) and spin (whether it is traveling in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction) creates more variable states than is possible with simple on-off electrons. Those possibilities will enable scientists to process, store and transmit far more data on photon-based devices than is possible with electronic chips today.

To bring photons into the proximities required to create these magnetic effects, the Stanford researchers used lasers, fiber optic cables and other off-the-shelf scientific equipment. Building these tabletop structures enabled the scientists to deduce the design principles behind the effects they discovered. Eventually they'll have to create nanoscale structures that embody these same principles to build the chip. In the meantime, reports Shanhui Fan, "we've found a relatively simple new mechanism to control light, and that's exciting."

Excerpted from ScienceBlog "What If We Could Teach Photons To Behave Like Electrons?"

 

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February 2020

The Future of Everything

Professor Jelena Vučković is a Jensen Huang Professor in Global Leadership in the School of Engineering, a Professor of Electrical Engineering and by courtesy of Applied Physics at Stanford, where she leads the Nanoscale and Quantum Photonics Lab. She is a director of Q-FARM (Quantum Science and Engineering Initiative), and is also affiliated with Ginzton Lab, PULSE Institute, SIMES Institute, Stanford Photonics Research Center (SPRC), SystemX Alliance, and Bio-X at Stanford.

Jelena joins podcast host Professor Russ Altman to discuss the power and promise of photonics. Transcript available 

 

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professor Andrea Goldsmith
February 2020

Professor Andrea Goldsmith has long been a champion of diversity and inclusion. While chair for an award selection committee, she saw data on gender and geographic diversity and realized that women and people from specific IEEE regions were rarely nominated for major awards. She also realized that implicit bias is likey to play a role in award committees decisions. Since then she has been raising awareness and educating peers about implicit bias.

Andrea leads the IEEE Board of Director's committee on diversity, inclusion, and professional ethics. The committee is aligned into three sub-committees working toward diversity and inclusion across IEEE; merging and raising awareness about IEEE's ethics and conduct codes; and establishing best practices for violations and reporting.

The sub-committee on diversity and inclusion has seen an increase in awareness across all of IEEE, and are witnessing more women and candidates from countries that had been underrepresented, receiving more nominations for IEEE awards.

Another positive result is the adoption of a new diversity statement in the IEEE policies. The updated policy reflects IEEE's longstanding commitment to ensure the engineering profession maximizes its impact and success by welcoming, engaging, and rewarding those who contribute to the field in an equitable manner.

IEEE Diversity Statement

"IEEE's mission to foster technological innovation and excellence to benefit humanity requires the talents and perspectives of people with different personal, cultural, and disciplinary backgrounds. IEEE is committed to advancing diversity in the technical profession, and to promoting an inclusive and equitable culture in its activities and programs that welcomes, engages and rewards those who contribute to the field without regard to race, religion, gender, disability, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression."

 

We are proud of Andrea's work raising awareness and accountability for inclusion and diversity.

 prof. Goldsmith with group women engineers, Rising Stars 2017

Prof. Goldsmith (lower left) and Rising Stars Workshop attendees, in the Packard Building atrium.

 

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