News

ECE Associate Professor Michael Liebling is co-recipient of the Northrop Grumman “Excellence in Teaching Award”

January 15th, 2015

photo of michael liebling
Liebling is co-recipient with Chemical Engineering’s Matt Helgeson.

The “Excellence in Teaching Award” is given annually on several campuses by Northrop Grumman. The award honors faculty members who demonstrate a commitment to high teaching standards.

Michael Liebling is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He received the MS in Physics (2000) and PhD in image processing (2004) from EPFL, Switzerland. From 2004 to 2007, he was a Postdoctoral Scholar in Biology at the California Institute of Technology, before joining the faculty in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCSB in 2007.

Research in his lab focuses on biological microscopy and image processing for the study of dynamic biological processes and, more generally, computational methods for optical imaging.

He teaches both at the graduate and undergraduate level in the areas of signal processing, image processing and biological microscopy. Courses Liebling instructs include:

Undergraduate Level:

  • Signal Analysis and Processing (ECE 130A)
  • Applications of Signal Analysis and Processing (ECE 148)
  • Digital Signal Processing (ECE 158)
  • Introduction to Digital Image and Video Processing (ECE 178)

Graduate Level:

  • Multirate Digital Signal Processing – aka Wavelets (ECE 258B)
  • Principles of Biological Microscopy (ECE 278B)
  • Computational Bio-Microscopy (ECE 594Q)

Liebling's Systems Bioimaging Lab

Professor Shuji Nakamura receives the 2015 Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering

January 6th, 2015

photo of shuji nakamura

The Draper Prize is the National Academy of Engineering’s highest honor. Nakamura shares the prize with four other pioneers of LED lighting — Isamu Akasaki, George Craford, Russell Dupuis, and Nick Holonyak, Jr.

UCSB materials professor and 2014 Nobel Laureate Shuji Nakamura has been awarded the Draper Prize for Engineering by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Nakamura, who is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCSB, will share the prize with four other recipients also deemed by the NAE as pioneers of LED lighting.

“I am honored to receive the Charles Stark Draper Prize along with the other pioneers in LED technology,” said Nakamura.

Nakamura has been the recipient of many prestigious awards and honors, including the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics, for his invention of the first high-brightness blue LED, which led to the invention of the ubiquitous and energy-efficient bright white LED. A member of the UCSB faculty since 2000, Nakamura also won Japan’s Order of Culture Award in 2014. Prior to that, he was the recipient of the 2009 Harvey Prize, the 2006 Millenium Technology Prize, and a 2011 Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Nakamura has also received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) Jack A. Morton Award and the IEEE Laser and Electro-Optics Society Engineering Achievement Award, as well as the Materials Research Society Medal, among other honors and medals.

“Great engineers imagine new things — and build them,” said Draper Laboratory president and CEO Kaigham J. Gabriel. “These LED pioneers created technologies that brought new light to our lives, spawning an industry that today boasts hundreds of thousands of jobs while making energy consumption more efficient.”

The UCSB Current (full article)

Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering (NAE website)

The Draper Prize website

Shuji Nakamura and other UCSB Nobel Laureates

Prof. Katie Byl’s Robotics Lab part of team featured in CNN article “NASA Designs Ape-like Robot for Disasters”

January 5th, 2015

photo of robosimian

UCSB ECE’s Robotics Lab and Caltech are part of the team working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on a different kind of robot for disaster response that’s designed to move like an ape

The robot named “RoboSimian” is headless but covered with seven cameras that act as “eyes,” the RobotSimian has four identical limbs that do double duty as arms and legs. Together, they ably move the robot across rough terrain and rubble but can also pick up and manipulate objects. It has wheels it can coast on if the surface is smooth enough.

The RoboSimian is JPL’s final entry into the DARPA Robotics Challenge, a 27-month-long competition among some of the world’s top robotic talent to create an emergency response robot. In situations such as a nuclear disaster, one of these robots could go into environments too dangerous for human rescue workers and execute simple tasks such as lifting debris off survivors or turning off a valve.

In June, RoboSimian and up to 18 other finalists will have to make their way through an obstacle course that simulates eight common scenarios. Each robot will attempt to drive a car, move across rubble, use a tool and climb stairs, all without a human controlling it. DARPA says the final competitors should be as competent as a 2-year-old child. The winning team will receive a $2 million prize.

JPL used leftover parts from RoboSimian to create another robot called Surrogate. The more traditional upright robot has a flexible spine, head and two arms. While better at manipulating objects, Surrogate ran on tracks and wasn’t as adept at traversing the complicated terrain that is common in a disaster. After considering both candidates, the team decided to take RoboSimian to the finals.

One trade-off is that RoboSimian is slower than many other competitors. JPL’s team is working with the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Caltech to increase the robot’s walking speed.

“It is intentionally the tortoise relative to the other hares in the competition. We feel that a very stable and deliberate approach suites our technical strengths and provides a model for one vital element of the ‘ecosystem’ of robots that we expect to be deployed to disaster scenarios in the future,” said JPL’s Brett Kennedy, who is supervisor of the Robotic Vehicles and Manipulators Group.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is most known for designing robotics for space exploration, such as the Mars rovers. But the DARPA competition was an opportunity for the JPL group to take its existing robotics research and compare approaches directly to other talented teams.

CNN "NASA Designs Ape-like Robot for Disasters" (full article)

UCSB Robotics — Byl Group

ECE Professor Kaustav Banerjee elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS)

December 10th, 2014

photo of kaustav banerjee
Banerjee elected for “seminal applied physics research on nanoscale materials, devices, interconnects, and circuits towards realizing ultra-low power electronics.”

The criterion for election as an APS Fellow is exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise; e.g., outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education. Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one’s professional peers.

The membership of APS is diverse and global, and the Fellows of the APS should reflect that diversity. Fellowship nominations of women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and scientists from outside the United States are especially encouraged.

APS Fellows (webpage)

UCSB The Current (article)

Banerjee's Nanoelectronics Research Lab (NRL)

ECE Professor Yuan Xie named as an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellow

December 2nd, 2014

photo of yuan xie
Xie elected for his for contributions to design automation and architecture of three-dimensional integrated circuits

Yuan Xie, Professor of ECE department, University of California, Santa Barbara, has been named an IEEE Fellow (class of 2015, effective 1 January 2015). He is being recognized for contributions to design automation and architecture of three-dimensional integrated circuits (3D ICs).

The IEEE Grade of Fellow is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed one-tenth of one- percent of the total voting membership. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement.

Professor Xie is recognized as the world-class researcher in the areas of electronic design automation (EDA), computer architecture, VLSI design, and embedded systems. His most distinctive contributions lie in the revolutionary advances of design automation and architecture for three-dimensional integrated circuits (3D ICs), which offer new opportunities for system-level innovations that are not hinged only on technology scaling. He is recognized as the pioneer who have crossed traditional boundaries between architecture, design automation, and test for 3D ICs, and his cross-cutting research have made significant contributions to transform this emerging technology from research exploration to commercial adoption in semiconductor industry.

Prof Xie received BS degree and Ph.D. degree from Tsinghua University and Princeton University, respectively. He has worked for IBM and AMD, and was with Pennsylvania State University before joining UCSB in Fall 2014. He has published more than 200 scholarly articles in top journal and conference venues, and has received several Best Paper Awards (ICCAD, ASPDAC, ISLPED, ISVLSI, GLSVLSI) and several Best Paper Nominations (MICRO, HPCA, DATE, ASPDAC).

IEEE Fellow Program (webpage)

About Prof. Xie and his research group

ECE graduate student Ping Chi awarded a silver medal at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Student Research Competition (SRC)

November 21st, 2014

photo of ping chi
Ping Chi received the ACM SRC medal for her research project titled “Next-Generation Memory Design: Architecture-level and Application-level Perspectives.” She is advised by ECE Professor Yuan Xie.

The ACM SRC is sponsored by Microsoft Research and is an internationally recognized venue enabling undergraduate and graduate students who are ACM members to:

  • Experience the research world — for many undergraduates this is a first!
  • Share research results and exchange ideas with other students, judges, and conference attendees
  • Rub shoulders with academic and industry luminaries
  • Understand the practical applications of their research
  • Perfect their communication skills
  • Receive prizes and gain recognition from ACM and the greater computing community

The ACM Special Interest Group on Design Automation (ACM SIGDA) organized this event in conjunction with the International Conference on Computer Aided Design (ICCAD) held in San Jose from Nov. 3-6, 2014.

ACM Student Research Competition

Xie Group

ECE grad student Ping Chi and ECE Prof. Yuan Xie receive the IEEE/ACM William J. McCalla ICCAD Best Paper Award

November 21st, 2014

photo of ping chi and yuan xie
Ping Chi, a 4th-year ECE Ph.D. student and co-author ECE Professor Yuan Xie receive the 2014 IEEE/ACM William J. McCalla ICCAD Best Paper Award.

Chi received the front-end design award for her paper titled “Using Multi-Level Cell STT-RAM for Fast and Energy-Efficient Local Checkpointing,” at the 2014 International Conference on Computer-Aided Design (ICCAD) held in San Jose, from Nov. 3-6, 2014. The paper was co-authored with Dr. Cong Xu (Penn State), Dr. Tao Zhang (Nvidia), Dr. Xiangyu Dong (Google), and her advisor Dr. Yuan Xie (UCSB).

Given in memory of William J. McCalla for his contributions to ICCAD and his CAD technical work throughout his career. The awards are split into three sections, two for the current year of the ICCAD conference and one for an ICCAD paper from 10 years prior. For the current year awards, one will be given for the best research paper covering the front-end of the design process and one will be given for the back-end of the design process. For the ten-year retrospective most influential paper, the award is given to the paper judged to be the most influential on research and industry practice in computer-aided design of integrated circuits over the ten years since its original appearance at ICCAD. The awards are jointly sponsored by IEEE Council on Electronic Design Automation (IEEE CEDA) and the ACM Speci al Interest Group on Design Automation (ACM SIGDA). The awards are decided by ICCAD Best Paper and Most Influential Awards Selection Committees and were first given in 2000.

IEEE/ACM William J. McCalla ICCAD Best Paper Award

The Xie Group

ECE’s Manjunath part of collaborative marine Biodiversity Observation Network (BON) centering on Santa Barbara Channel

October 30th, 2014

kelp on the ocean floor
“One Giant Step for Ocean Biodiversity” — the marine Biodiversity Observation Network in the Santa Barbara Channel has been established to addresses an information gap about marine habitats.

With 13 scientific investigators and 10 partner institutions, the marine biodiversity observation network (BON) centered on the Santa Barbara Channel is the epitome of collaboration. Funded with $5 million by NASA, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the UC Santa Barbara-led project officially kicked off Thursday, Oct. 23, at UCSB’s Marine Science Institute (MSI).

“We’ve got principal investigators here from two colleges, a professional school, over six different department on campus, as well our friends at NOAA,” said MSI Director Mark Brzezinski. “It’s an incredibly interdisciplinary team ranging from biology to engineering, and it’s no small feat to bring that kind of group together. Here at UCSB, we really pride ourselves on this kind of interdisciplinary work. It’s our normal mode of operation.”

Designed to fill a gap not addressed by NASA’s Group on Earth Observations (GEO) BON, which focuses on terrestrial biomes, this prototype marine BON seeks to eventually cover a huge range of biodiversity in the oceans. The effort begins in the Santa Barbara Channel where various groups have been gathering a breadth of scientific data ranging from intertidal monitoring to physical oceanographic measurements.

“There have been a huge number of observations taken over time in the channel,” said Robert Miller, a research biologist with MSI and a principal investigator of the marine BON. “The channel has also been a hotspot for remote sensing research, which gives us a wider picture of the area, which we can then match with in-situ observations.”

The marine BON has three goals: to integrate biodiversity data to enable inferences about regional biodiversity; to develop advanced methods in optical and acoustic imaging and to improve monitoring biodiversity in partnership with ongoing monitoring and research programs; and implement a tradeoff framework that optimizes allocation of sampling effort, given the cost of that effort and the information gained from it.

UCSB investigators involved in the project are B.S. Manjunath, director of UCSB’s Center for Bio-Image Informatics; Craig Carlson, chair of the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology (EEMB); Deborah Iglesias-Rodriguez, an EEMB professor; Phaedon Kyriakidis, a professor in the Department of Geography; Kevin Lafferty, a principal investigator with MSI and a marine ecologist with the United States Geological Survey’s Western Ecological Research Center; Milton Love and Daniel Reed, research biologists with MSI; Douglas McCauley, an assistant professor in EEMB; Andrew Rassweiler, an assistant research biologist at MSI; and David Siegel, director of the Earth Research Institute. Additional investigators include Andrew Thompson of NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

"The UCSB Current" (full article)

The Center for Bio-Image Informatics

B.S. Manjunath's Bio

“The Ocean’s Future” — ECE Professor and Center for Bio-Image Informatics Director, B.S. Manjunath part of newly formed Marine Biodiversity Observation Network

October 8th, 2014

bed of algae

UCSB scientists lead a team designing a network to track many species of marine organisms over time

Is life in the oceans changing over the years? Are humans causing long-term declines in ocean biodiversity with climate change, fishing and other impacts? At present, scientists are unable to answer these questions because little data exist for many marine organisms, and the small amount of existing data focuses on small, scattered areas of the ocean.

“Currently most of the information we have for marine species is on economically important species like fish and lobster,” said Robert Miller, a research biologist at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute. “Little is known about the majority of species out there, even though they may be very important from an ecological point of view. A comprehensive observation network that looks at a broad suite of marine organisms would tell us how marine ecosystems as a whole are doing.”

A group of researchers from UCSB, the USGS, NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service and UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography are creating a new prototype system — the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network — to solve this problem. The five-year project led by Miller will center on the Santa Barbara Channel, but the long-term goal is to expand the network around the country and around the world to track over time the biodiversity of marine organisms, from microbes to whales. After a highly competitive proposal process, NASA, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and NOAA chose to fund UCSB’s approximately $5 million project.

The Marine Biodiversity Observation Network will integrate existing data over large spatial scales using geostatistical models and will utilize new technology to improve knowledge of marine organisms. Scientists will rely on genetics to accomplish three goals: begin learning about the many kinds of microbes in our coastal waters; identify plankton that would otherwise have to be counted under the microscope over many, many hours; and detect larger animals such as whales and fish by looking for fragments of DNA they have shed into the water. This is known as environmental DNA or eDNA.

The group will use imaging to survey organisms such as kelp forests and deep reefs in underwater habitats where dive-time constraints limit the ability for firsthand exploration. To further this effort, UCSB’s Center for Bio-Image Informatics will use advanced image analysis to automatically identify different species including fish.

"The UCSB Current" (full article)

The Center for Bio-Image Informatics

B.S. Manjunath's Bio

Entering ECE graduate student, Ehsan Omidi, featured in UCSB GradPost article — “Who’s New at UCSB?”

October 3rd, 2014

photo of ehsan omidi
Electrical and Computer Engineering is one of the most popular disciplines with 90 graduate students among the 758 new graduate students entering UCSB. These incoming students are diverse in many ways, such as their ages, countries of origin, and fields of study.

Ehsan Omidi comes to UCSB all the way from Tehran, Iran. He earned both a bachelor of science and a master of science in electrical engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran. He enters the Ph.D. program in electrical and computer engineering under guidance of Associate Professor Yasamin Mostofi with a concentration in control, communication, and signal processing.

Both of Omidi’s parents were schoolteachers, and he has always excelled in academics. Growing up, he had many of the same hobbies as his friends, including soccer, cartoons and video games.

“But,” he said, “my real hobby started when we had a computer in our home and I started programming with it. Since then, programming has been my main entertainment.”

When he realized that computer programming didn’t challenge him enough, he began to study electrical engineering in order to figure out what goes on inside a computer. He also worked on his university’s robotics team in creating a simple robot that could do funny tasks such as playing with a golf ball.

Omidi is very excited to be studying at UCSB, which is among the top 10 engineering schools in the world (Academic Ranking of World Universities). It also doesn’t hurt that Santa Barbara is, in Omidi’s words, “totally a perfect city.” He said, “Living in an always-sunny city with beautiful landscapes wherever you look and doing your desired research is what every grad student dreams.”

Omidi’s hobbies include soccer, violin and chess, and he hopes to add hiking and surfing in Santa Barbara to the list.

"Who's New at UCSB?" (full article)