CCST Council Member Katherine Yelick Honored by ACM Council on Women
Katherine Yelick, of UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was named the
2013-14 Athena Lecturer by ACM-W. She was appointed to CCST in 2009. Image courtesy LBL.
CCST Council Member Katherine Yelick has been honored by the Association for Computing
Machinery's (ACM) Council on Women, which has named her the 2013-2014 Athena Lecturer. The Athena
Lecturer award celebrates women researchers who have made fundamental contributions to computer
science. Yelick, a Professor of Electrical Engineering Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley and also the
Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is
being honored for her work in parallel programming.
"In computer science, women have been historically underrepresented," said Yelick. "Today, less
than 20% of computer science degrees go to women. Part of the ACM Council on Women's focus is to try
to help women understand what the field is about and engage larger numbers in computer science.
"Computer science offers wonderful opportunities to impact many societal problems, from health to
the environment, while at the same time attacking interesting technical challenges."
Parallel programming is the practice of programming large numbers of processors to solve a single
problem, such a simulating future impacts of climate change, to analyzing large data sets. "Parallel
computing both produces enormous data sets and is necessary for analyzing such data sets," said
Yelick. "Large scientific projects may involve petabytes (1015 bytes) of data, which are impossible
for humans to analyze and would take several months on a personal computer, but can be done in a few
hours using parallel computing."
Among her accomplishments, Yelick developed novel performance tuning, compilers and runtime
systems, which implement the core behavior of computer languages. She co-invented an extension of
the C programming language designed for high performance computing on large-scale parallel machines
and a parallel dialect of Java, one of the most popular programming languages in use, to support
high-performance scientific computing on large-scale multiprocessors, Much of her work has been
done in collaboration with other researchers at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, and their software is
used in research, teaching and production environments.
The ability to work rapidly with increasingly large data sets is crucial for advances in many fields; CCST has
explored the potential of 'big data' in several recent meetings. However, for Yelick, the Council's focus on education
related issues is just as important for computer science in California.
"Computer science is a critical field, but one in which the curriculum, particularly at the K-12 level, is highly
variable," noted Yelick. "What should a high school senior be expected to know? In addition, the rapid growth of applied technologies
to the education process from K-12 through higher education, such as online courses, automatic grading, and so on has
raised numerous technical and policy issues which need to be understood."
Yelick will deliver the Athena Lecture at the Supercomputing Conference in Denver in November.