Jr. Faculty Bolster the COE
The UC Santa Barbara College of Engineering has hired Haewon Jeong and Yao Qin among seven new faculty members: four started during the 2022-’23 academic year, two begin this summer, and one will start next fall
Excerpt from the COE Convergence (S23) article "New Junior Faculty Bolster the COE"
Haewon Jeong – Electrical and Computer Engineering; Computer Science Affiliation (2022-’23)
Haewon Jeong says that her on-campus interview experience had a lot to do with her choosing to come to UC Santa Barbara. “The amazing colleagues I met during the interview process were definitely the biggest draw,” one that was complemented, she says, by “the idyllic beauty of Santa Barbara. When I drove through Henley Gate for the first time, I couldn’t believe how beautiful the campus was. It still captivates me, and every morning when I drive in, I feel grateful to work here.”
Jeong earned her PhD at Carnegie Mellon University and wrote her dissertation on research she conducted at the intersection of information theory, high-performance computing, and machine learning (ML).
“I care about the reliability of large-scale machine learning algorithms,” she says. “ChatGPT (see page 17) blew our minds and swept the world so quickly. Recent ML technologies that generate realistic and creative art with simple text commands seem to enable anyone to be an ‘artist.’ These fascinating ML tools are becoming part of our life so quickly, but their reliability has not yet been thoroughly tested. Is society ready for them? Oftentimes, the algorithms inherit societal stereotypes and discriminate against marginalized minority groups, or they inadvertently leak private information.
“At the same time, the inner workings of these large-scale ML models are so opaque that it is hard to tell where it went wrong,” Jeong adds. “My research is aimed at tackling these problems and designing more reliable ML algorithms that can perform better in terms of fairness, privacy, and accountability. I use tools from information theory and statistics to provide theoretical understanding of algorithms and also provable guarantees of desired properties, such as fairness to all groups. I also closely collaborate with systems researchers to build hardware that is more reliable for running largescale algorithms.
Yao Qin – Electrical and Computer Engineering (2022-’23)
Yao Qin earned her PhD and master’s degrees in computer science and engineering at UC San Diego, and her BS in electrical engineering from Dalian University of Technology in China. Prior to arriving at UCSB, she spent nearly three years in New York as a research scientist for Google. She currently focuses her research on the subject of robustness in machine learning (ML). “For example,” she says, “a self-driving car system can be thrown off by a mischievous adversary or might not work in unexpected weather conditions. My key research agenda is to design machine-learning algorithms to improve the models’ robustness when they encounter unexpected scenarios.”
Like so many faculty members who come to UCSB, Qin says, “I really love the collaborative environment and the active research energy in the department. I am looking forward to working with excellent students and faculty to develop a deep understanding of machine-learning models that will allow us to improve their robustness.”
That, she says, includes defending against not only adversaries that attack machine-learning models, but also out-of-distribution generalization, both of which require ML models to function well under unobserved scenarios. “I am also highly interested in applying ML models to help patients who have diabetes to control glucose levels by predicting the required amount of insulin,” she notes.
Qin says that she finds particular enjoyment in “mentoring students and helping to shape how the new generation thinks about computer science. It is rewarding to witness the growth of students and to develop my own knowledge with them.”
COE/CLS Convergence magazine (S23) - "New Junior Faculty Bolster the COE" (full article pg. 15)