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New faculty focus on robotics, data and cybersecurity and more

San Diego, Calif., Sept. 15, 2016 --Thirteen new faculty are joining the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California San Diego this fall. The hires are part of a plan to grow the school’s faculty to 280 by 2020. Six of the hires were focused on robotics, including Henrik Christensen, the director of the Contextual Robotics Institute at UC San Diego and Todd Hylton, the institute’s executive director. Other hires focused on engineering and clinical medicine, data and cyber security, and materials and energy as well as networks, structures and extreme events and signal processing.

Below are short summaries of their research work. 

COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING

 

HENRIK CHRISTENSEN
Professor
Ph.D. Aalborg University, Denmark
Christensen will lead the Contextual Robotics Institute at UC San Diego. His research covers computer vision, artificial intelligence and robotics. His primary emphasis has been on a systems-oriented approach to machine perception, robotics, and design of intelligent machines. He leads the effort to draft a U.S. national robotics roadmap.

Previously: KUKA Chair of Robotics, Georgia Institute of Technology

 

 

MELISSA GYMREK
Assistant Professor
Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Gymrek studies genetic variations in humans called short tandem repeats, or microsatellites, and how these and other complex variations affect human traits. She found a way to create variation profiles from high throughput sequencing data. This allowed questions about the variations’ properties on genome- and population-wide scales to be answered for the first time.

Previously: Massachusetts General Hospital and Broad Institute

 

 

ARUN KUMAR
Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kumar’s research focuses on the intersection of data management and machine learning, especially on problems related to usability, performance and scalability. Systems and ideas from his research have been adopted by the MADlib open-source library, shipped in products from EMC, Oracle, Cloudera and IBM, and used internally by Facebook. Microsoft and LogicBlox might join this list soon.

Previously: University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

 

NDAPA NAKASHOLE
Assistant Professor
Ph.D. Saarland University, Germany
Nakashole aims to develop algorithms that enable computers to understand, generate and analyze human language. She has developed methods for machine reading, harvesting knowledge from the web, and analyzing trustworthiness of web documents. Her work has applications in several areas of artificial intelligence including robotics, computer vision and digital personal assistants.

Previously: Postdoctoral Fellow, Carnegie Mellon University

 

 

JOE GIBBS POLITZ
Teaching Professor
Ph.D. Brown University
Politz studies computer science education, programming languages, compiler design, web programming and web security. He has two complementary focuses: using peer code review in undergraduate courses and developing the programming language Pyret for use in computer science curricula from middle school to the undergraduate level.

Previously: Visiting Instructor, Swarthmore College

 
 

LAUREL RIEK
Associate Professor
Ph.D. Univeristy of Cambridge, England
Riek’s research enables robots to solve problems in real-world, safety-critical human environments such as hospitals, homes and factories. Her research tackles fundamental and applied problems that make complex, real-world perception and interaction in these spaces difficult for machines and has applications in manufacturing, neuro-rehabilitation and emergency medicine.

Previously: Luce Assistant Professor, University of Notre Dame

 
 

AARON SCHULMAN
Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of Maryland
Schulman studies how novel hardware can help software developers build efficient, secure, and reliable energy systems. He investigates how power measurement devices can help software developers find battery-draining bugs, and how radio broadcast receivers can improve web security. His research spans computer systems, networking, security, and embedded systems.

Previously: Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford Univeristy

 
 

ELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER ENGINEERING
 

NIKOLAY ATANASOV
Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania
Atanasov aims to design estimation and control techniques that increase the autonomy and reliability of robotic sensing systems. He focuses on controlling teams of aerial and ground robots to collect metric, semantic and topological information in applications such as environmental monitoring, security and surveillance, localization and mapping, and search and rescue.

Previously: Postdoctoral Researcher, Univeristy of Pennsylvania

 
 

TODD HYLTON
Professor of Practice
Ph.D. Stanford University
Hylton has a track record of creating successful programs and products both in government and industry, including a multi-million dollar DARPA effort to create a neuromorphic chip. He has been awarded 19 patents. His research interests include machine learning algorithms and natural intelligence.

Previously: Executive VP, Brain Corporation

 
 
 

PIYA PAL
Assistant Professor
Ph.D. California Institute of Technology
Pal designs sensing and sampling techniques to improve the efficiency of big data collection and processing. She develops new algorithms that ensure the acquisition of the most useful, relevant data in order to reduce the energy costs associated with tasks such as radar tracking, surveillance, biomedical imaging and machine learning.

Previously: Assistant Professor, University of Maryland

 
 
 

MECHANICAL AND AEROSPACE ENGINEERING

 

NICK GRAVISH
Assistant Professor
Ph.D. Georgia Institute of Technology
Gravish combines robotics, biology and physics to discover how organisms and robots move and interact. He focuses on organizing principles for collective behavior in biology and robotics and the dynamics of rapid, stable locomotion of individuals in complex environments. He studies motions of flying and running organisms and constructs microrobots to understand microscale locomotion and manipulation.

Previously: Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University

 
 

NANOENGINEERING

 

ZHENG CHEN
Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of California Los Angeles
Chen develops novel nanostructured and polymeric materials for batteries, supercapacitors and fuel cells; flexible and printed devices; and sustainable water resources. His research also focuses on understanding the fundamental properties of these new materials in device operation.

Previously: Postdoctoral Associate, Stanford University

 
 
 

STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING

 

VERONICA ELIASSON
Associate Professor
Ph.D. KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Eliasson’s work combines fluid mechanics and gas dynamics theory with solid mechanics and fracture dynamics. She aims to better understand failure modes of solids during highly dynamic, short duration tests to assess the response of structures. Applications include minimizing or avoiding earthquake impact on dams, underwater explosions on naval structures, and non-invasive kidney stone treatment.

Previously: Associate Professor, University of Southern California

 
 
 

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Media Contacts

Daniel Kane
Jacobs School of Engineering
Phone: 858-534-3262
dbkane@ucsd.edu Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering
Phone: 858-822-0899
ipatrin@ucsd.edu Liezel Labios
Jacobs School of Engineering
Phone: 858-246-1124
llabios@ucsd.edu

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