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19-20 Home


annual report 2019-2020

Video Above: CSE student Jasmine Simmons works on the Smartfin research project



Ranked Fifth in the World by


Research Expenditures (FY ‘18 – ’19)


Undergraduate Students


Master Students


Ph.D. Students






Affiliated Faculty


NIH Pioneer Director's Award
Rob Knight

NSF Career Awards
Arun Kumar

NSF Career Awards +
Sloan Research Fellowship

Nadia Polikarpova

Test-of-Time Awards
Stefan Savage

IEEE Fellow Class 2020
Alex Snoeren

NSF Career Award
Yiying Zhang

Test-of-Time Awards
Dean Tullsen

HIghlights 2019-2020

Letter from the Chair

Meet our new Department Chair Sorin Lerner and learn what makes CSE a special place

CSE Research Highlights

Faculty and students respond to COVID-19 & form collaborations that lead to impactful research

CSE Welcomes New Faculty

Four new members join the distinguished community of UC San Diego CSE faculty​

CSE Students

In the ocean or CSE labs, our students have many waves they can ride to success

Faculty Honors

CSE faculty receive national recognition for contributions to their fields and society

Alumni Community

CSE alumni help shape the field of AI, the future of data science and forge new frontiers


“As I begin my term as CSE department chair, I am honored to represent a department that has shown so much initiative, resilience and dedication. Our renowned faculty and exceptional students have not missed a beat in producing impactful research that will serve our community and our world.”

Chair / Professor, CSE
UC San Diego

We Are CSE

We Are CSE 
A thriving, supportive and world-class community

The rich diversity of research and perspectives found at the UC San Diego CSE department has helped it become a thriving, supportive and world-class community. Meet one of our students, Angelique Taylor (Ph.D. ’21), and learn about her important work in human-robot interaction.

We Are CSE
A diverse and inclusive community

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are key tenets of the UC San Diego CSE community. Watch why students, faculty, staff and leaders from across the UC San Diego campus decided to “Sit in the Red Chair” during the inaugural Celebration of Diversity Day.

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19-20 Gallery

v1 2019-2020

19-20 Alumni Community and Connections

Alumni Community

CSE Alumni Community & Connections

Our alumni help shape the field of AI, the future of data science and forge new frontiers.



Brina Lee (Masters ’13) Forges Another Frontier, This Time in Audio

Once a communications undergraduate, Brina Lee earned a master’s in computer science then went on to blaze a career path that includes being Instagram’s first female engineer and cofounder of a company. As she grows her startup, Hamul, Lee can summarize the most important lesson she’s learned in one short phrase: “Don’t let you hold yourself back.”


Taner Halıcıoğlu

Super Angel Taner Halıcıoğlu (B.S. ’96): Making an Investment in the Future

Taner Halıcıoğlu, who was Facebook’s first full-time employee, spurs startups in San Diego as an angel investor. (As an active investor in early-stage companies, he’s known as one of the area’s few “super angels” in local tech.) He’s also invested in his alma mater, recently donating $75 million to create the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. His generous gift is defining the future of data science and educating the next generation of tech leaders.

Halıcıoğlu has distinguished himself in other ways: he’s a 2020 CSE Distinguished Alumnus; a 2019 Chancellor’s Medalist, one of the highest honors given by UC San Diego for exceptional service in support of the university’s mission; and a UC San Diego 2019 Outstanding Alumnus.

Meet Halıcıoğlu in the video below produced for the Chancellor’s Medal.



The Deep Mind of Oriol Vinyals (Masters ’09)

As a principal scientist/director at DeepMind in London, Oriol Vinyals is the brain behind some of the most important papers and ideas in artificial intelligence (AI). He has fond memories of the education he received at CSE and UC San Diego and the opportunities to cross borders and expand his world view.

DeepMind has recently made a generous gift to support CSE, providing fellowships for graduate machine learning students and boosting the department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion fund. 

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19-20 CSE Students

cse Students

Cse students ride their own wave to success

Studying Climate Change While Surfing: 
CSE Student Jasmine Simmons

After buying her own surfboard off Craigslist, Jasmine Simmons (B.S. ’19, Masters ’20) taught herself to surf. She has since parlayed that pastime into a research venue. While catching waves, Simmons and other CSE students work on the Smartfin project, which uses sensors embedded in surf fins to analyze near-coastal ocean regions. Smartfin is a collaboration between the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at UC San Diego and the Surfrider Foundation.

See Simmons talk about her epic experience in this UCTV video.

The video has been honored by the Telly Awards with a bronze in General Science and Technology.

Giving Surgeons Guidance with Computer Vision

At the 2020 CSE Winter Research Open House  Michael Barrow (Ph.D. ’20) took the prize for the best industry poster: Data Driven Tissue Models for Surgical Image Guidance.

Barrow has a background in computer vision, which seeks to process digital images more like the brain, and has been working on technologies to help surgeons navigate inside the body. CSE Professor Ryan Kastner was intrigued by the project and invited Barrow to join his research group. Read more

Excellence in Computer Science and Engineering

Weiyang Wang (B.S. ’20) is obsessed with solving complex problems, which is why he decided to double major in computer science and physics at UC San Diego. He spent most of his undergraduate career conducting circuit-switching research under Professor Alex Snoeren, an experience that helped him discover his interests in research and computer networking. At the same time, Wang was a tutor for several computer science classes. In the fall, Wang will enroll at MIT for his PhD in computer science, with hopes of becoming a professor.

In June, Wang was honored with the Excellence in Computer Science and Engineering award from the Jacobs School of Engineering, one of six undergraduate students to be recognized for excellence, leadership and contributions by the school. Read more

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v1 2019-2020

19-20 CSE Research Highlights

Covid-19: CSE responds

How Robots Can Help Combat COVID-19

Leaders in robotics, including Henrik Christensen, CSE professor and director of UC San Diego’s Contextual Robotics Institute  outline how robots can be effective tools in combating the coronavirus in this Science Robotics editorial.

Engineering Creative Solutions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Michael Barrow, a Ph.D. candidate in CSE Professor Ryan Kastner’s research group, is leading an effort to boost critical care management during these uncertain times. 

Here’s How Scientists are Tracking The Genetic Evolution of COVID-19

Niema Moshiri, an assistant teaching professor and a bioinformatician who studies the relationships between epidemics and viral evolution, is one of the researchers studying the evolution of SARS-CoV-2. They are finding that the SARS-CoV-2 virus appears to be mutating more slowly than the seasonal flu, which may simplify efforts to develop a vaccine, he writes in The Conversation.

Delivering PPE to Hospitals and Connecting Clinicians with Resources and Answers

Nadir Weibel, a CSE associate professor and head of the Human-Centered and Ubiquitous Computing Lab  is collaborating with university colleagues, government and industry to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and to transport supplies like masks and face shields to hospitals in Baja California. 

Weibel is also part of a UC San Diego team that developed a rapid response platform, called Earth 2.0, that connects clinicians with COVID-19 resources and answers.

Predicting Why a Potential COVID-19 Vaccine May be Effective For Some But Not Others

CSE Professor Pavel Pevzner and collaborators with UC San Diego’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Qualcomm Institute have developed a new gene prediction algorithm called MINING-D that could help researchers investigate genetic clues behind the symptom variations among COVID-19 patients — information that is key to creating a versatile and effective vaccine.

Collaborating on 
Groundbreaking Research

Advancements in AI: Spotting Spoiler Alerts and Customized Recipes

CSE researchers, including Ph.D. student Mengting Wan and professors Ndapa Nakashole and Julian McAuley along with their collaborator, have developed an AI-based system that can flag spoilers in online reviews of books and television shows. Called SpoilerNet, this AI tool is powered by neural networks that automatically detect spoilers.

In another project, McAuley and CSE Ph.D. students Bodhisattwa Prasad Majumder, Shuyang Li and Jianmo Ni broke new ground in natural language processing with their study that could eventually lead to AI-generated recipes—customized to your personal taste.

Finding Gas Pump Skimmers Faster

Criminals can instal devices in gas pumps that steal consumer credit and debit card data using Bluetooth. But CSE researchers and collaborators at University of Illinois have developed an app called Bluetana that detects the Bluetooth signatures of gas pump skimmer devices and helps inspectors more easily find these devices.

Developed by CSE Ph.D. students Nishant Bhaskar and Maxwell Bland, Kirill Levchenko, a CSE alumnus and computer science professor at the University of Illinois, and CSE professor Aaron Schulman, Bluetana is more accurate than other skimmer detection apps. 

How Robots Can Help Provide Personalized Healthcare

CSE Professor Laurel Riek, who directs the UC San Diego Healthcare Robotics Lab  is the lead researcher on $2.3 million in grants from the National Science Foundation to investigate how intelligent, personalized robots can support neurorehabilitation for adults with mild cognitive impairment and adults recuperating from stroke.

One project, TAILORED: Training for Independent Living through Observant Robots and Design, involves UC San Diego collaborators, including CSE Professor Kamalika Chadudhuri. Riek’s other grant, HEBB: Human-Robot Enabled System to Induce Brain Behavior Adaptations, brings in collaborators at UC Davis to explore ways to create new intelligent technologies to support stroke patients.

Improving Firefox Security

A collaboration between researchers from CSE, University of Texas at Austin, Stanford University and Mozilla has created RLBox, a new framework to improve web browser security.

RLBox increases security through sandboxing, which protects browsers from buggy third-party libraries, and has been integrated into Firefox to complement other security-hardening features. CSE researchers included assistant professor Deian Stefan, Ph.D. students Shravan Narayan and Craig Disselkoen, professor and department chair Sorin Lerner and former CSE professor Hovav Shacham, who is now at UT Austin. 

Finding Hidden Biases in Healthcare

While we all have unintentional biases, these attitudes in healthcare providers can have significant impacts on patient care.

To better understand these issues, CSE Associate Professor Nadir Weibel and collaborators at the University of Washington have received a $2.8 million grant from the National Library of Medicine to launch UnBIASED, which is studying hidden biases in healthcare and developing ways to help rectify them.

New Record for Cryptographic Challenge

CSE Associate Professor Nadia Heninger is part of an international team of computer scientists that has set a new record for integer factorization, one of the most important computational problems underlying security in nearly all public-key cryptography used today. The same team set the previous integer factoring record in December 2019, when they factored the RSA-240 challenge, a 795-bit integer.

Hyperdimensional Computing Can Help Address Informational Onslaught

Currently, only one percent of the massive amount of data produced worldwide is ever evaluated. But a $1 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will help CSE professors Tajana Rosing and Sanjoy Dasgupta, and collaborator Tara Javidi with UC San Diego’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, explore how hyperdimensional computing (HD) can help. Their project, called HyDREA (Hyperdimensional Computing: Robust, Efficient and Accurate) will investigate how to make HD faster and more efficient than current machine learning while retaining its accuracy.

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19-20 Faculty Honors

faculty honors

CSE FACULTY honors 2019-2020

CSE faculty receive national recognition for contributions to their fields and society

NSF CAREER Award Winner Arun Kumar

Assistant Professor Arun Kumar received a prestigious NSF CAREER award for his work to improve the resource efficiency of scalable deep learning model selection. The success of deep learning at resource-rich technology companies has driven interest in adopting these approaches in domain sciences, enterprise companies, healthcare and even digital humanities. However, a major bottleneck to broader adoption is the high resource cost of training deep learning models. Kumar’s project will make it cheaper, faster and easier to adopt large-scale deep learning.

NSF CAREER Award and Sloan Research Fellowship Recipient Nadia Polikarpova

Assistant Professor Nadia Polikarpova’s novel approaches to automating software programming languages have earned her national recognition. She received the NSF CAREER Award for helping software developers increase productivity and reduce the number of mistakes in their code. She has also been honored with the 2020 Sloan Research Fellowship, which is awarded to just over 100 early-career scientists and scholars who demonstrate unique potential to make a substantial contribution in their fields. Read More


NSF CAREER Award Yiying Zhang

Assistant Professor Yiying Zhang is exploring new ways to build software, hardware, and networking systems for the next-generation datacenters. For her work on resource disaggregation, she has received an NSF CAREER award. Her project has the potential to revolutionize datacenter systems by developing the first type of system that integrates traditional datacenter memory and storage systems in one layer. The project takes a significant step towards the goal of using next-generation non-volatile memories (NVMs) in distributed data center environments.

NIH Pioneer Rob Knight

Rob Knight, a professor of computer science and engineering and bioengineering in the Jacobs School of Engineering and a pediatrics professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine, received the prestigious Pioneer Award for his efforts to develop new approaches to support healthy microbiomes. The award is the top honor from the National Institutes of Health’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program. Read More

IEEE Fellow Alex Snoeren

CSE Professor and Vice Chair Alex C. Snoeren, a leader in network security, has been elected to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellow class of 2020 for his “contributions to management and security of networked systems.” This is the organization’s highest honor for electrical engineers, computer engineers and computer scientists. Read More

Another ISCA Influential Paper Award for Dean Tullsen

Professor and former Department Chair Dean Tullsen — along with Rakesh Kumar, a former CSE PhD student, and collaborator Victor Zyuban — have been honored by the International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) with the 2020 Influential Paper Award for showing how interconnections on multiprocessor chips can affect power, performance and design. This recent honor marks the record-breaking third time Tullsen has won the Influential Paper Award. Read More

Standing the Test of Time: Stefan Savage

Professor Stefan Savage and his colleagues at UC San Diego and the University of Washington were honored with the Test of Time Award at the 2020 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy for the broad and lasting impact of their 2010 paper, which demonstrated the security vulnerabilities in automobile computer systems. In 2019, Savage and colleagues were honored with another Test of Time Award, from the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, for a 2009 paper that first explored the security issues in Cloud-based multi-tenancy. In 2017, Savage was part of a different team that won yet another Test of Time Award from the USENIX Security Symposium for their work measuring worldwide denial-of-service attacks. The latest award makes Savage the first researcher to win Test of Time awards in all three leading security venues.  Read More

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v1 2019-2020

19-20 New Faculty



Four new members join the distinguished community of UC San Diego CSE faculty.

Carlos Jensen
Associate Professor and UC San Diego Associate Vice Chancellor, Educational Innovation
Previously Associate Dean,
Oregon State University

Jensen’s research lies at the intersection between usability and software engineering, with an emphasis on studying how Open Source communities operate and organize, and the tools and processes needed to make them more efficient. His recent work uses automated testing techniques to help developers improve the reliability of large and complex open source software.

Tzu-Mao Li
Assistant Professor
Previously Postdoctoral Researcher,
UC Berkeley and MIT

Li connects classical computer graphics and image processing algorithms with modern data-driven methods to facilitate physical exploration. His work added 3D understanding to computer vision models; used data to improve camera imaging pipeline quality; and made light transport simulation faster by using information implicitly defined by rendering programs.

Rose Yu
Assistant Professor
Previously Assistant Professor,
Northeastern University

The goal of Yu’s research is to advance machine learning and enable interpretable, efficient and robust large-scale spatiotemporal reasoning. Her work has been successfully applied to solve challenging domain problems in sustainability, health and physical sciences.

Kristen Vaccaro
Assistant Professor
Previously Research Assistant,
U. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Vaccaro focuses on how to design machine learning systems to give users a sense of agency and control. She found that some existing ways of providing control for social media can function as placebos, increasing user satisfaction even when they do not work. She will help develop systems to give users control and oversight, and ethical guidelines and policies.

I am pleased to welcome these new faculty members who will join the ranks of acclaimed CSE faculty dedicated to impactful research, serving our students and improving society. They will also help further our important mission to foster a diverse and inclusive community.”

- Sorin Lerner, CSE Department Chair

copyright 2020 – Computer Science & Engineering – University of California San Diego

v1 2019-2020

19-20 We Are CSE


We ARE CSE at UC San Diego

We Are: A thriving, supportive and world-class community

The UC San Diego CSE department’s rich diversity of research and perspectives has made it a thriving, supportive and world-class academic community. Meet one of our students, Angelique Taylor (Ph.D. ’21), and learn about her important work in human-robot interaction.

Taylor works in the Healthcare Robotics Lab with Professor Laurel Riek, designing algorithms that help robots interact with groups of people in real-world environments.

Among her many honors, Taylor received a 2019 Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant for her efforts to develop robots that work more effectively with people.

We Are: A diverse and inclusive community

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are key tenets of the UC San Diego CSE community. Watch why students, faculty, staff and leaders from across campus decided to Sit in the Red Chair during the inaugural Celebration of Diversity Day.

CSE’s dedication to diversity and inclusion helps us reach a broad group of students, work in diverse teams and better train students to be leaders. The CSE and UC San Diego community came in droves to the spring 2019 Celebration of Diversity, which was organized by the department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee. They came to learn about and embrace the contributions made by all the different people in our community. They also came to sit in the Red Chair, a practice initiated by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).

We Are: internationally acclaimed scholars, researchers and educators

Research areas and affiliated faculty (click on chart below for the full list).

Turing Memorial Scholarship Supporting LGBTQ+ CS Undergrads Reaches Milestone

The Alan Turing Memorial Scholarship was established in 2015 to encourage a more diverse and inclusive community of engineers and to honor the memory of Alan Turing, the mathematician and cryptanalyst who helped invent computer science.

The scholarship benefits UC San Diego undergraduate students who actively support the LGBT community and major in computer science, computer engineering, public policy, communications and other programs touching on networked systems.

In February 2020, the Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) made a generous gift in memory of Brian Kantor, WB6YT, a UC San Diego alumnus, long-time university employee and ARDC founder. The gift helped fully endow the scholarship fund at $250,000.

copyright 2020 – Computer Science & Engineering – University of California San Diego

copyright 2020 – Computer Science & Engineering – University of California San Diego