CITRIS announces recipients of the inaugural Athena Awards for Women in Technology

To recognize the accomplishments of technology leaders and organizations fostering interest in computer science for the next generation of women and girls, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute are proud to announce the inaugural CITRIS Athena Awards for Women in Technology.

As an interdisciplinary research organization within the University of California, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute are driven by a mission to create information technology solutions to society’s most pressing challenges.

Nominations opened to the public in summer 2016 and resulted in more than 100 submissions across four categories: Academic Leadership, Executive Leadership, Early Career, and Next Generation Engagement. Awardees were selected by a distinguished panel of representatives from academia and industry. Winners were recognized at a public symposium on Women in Technology on October 5, 2016, in Sutardja Dai Hall on the campus of UC Berkeley. The Athena Award recipients inspire others to pursue and thrive in technical careers by way of their own outstanding contributions, and by their service and mentorship to others.

The Academic Leadership Award goes to two outstanding representatives in the UC Berkeley College of Engineering: Professors Tsu-Jae King Liu and Claire Tomlin.

Tsu-Jae King Liu
Academic Leadership Award

Tsu-Jae King Liu joined the faculty of UC Berkeley in 1996 and serves as the TSMC Distinguished Professor in Microelectronics in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. In addition to her research on nanoscale devices and technology for ultra-low-power integrated circuits, she has held numerous leadership positions in the College, including Associate Dean for Research and Associate Dean for Academic Planning. She was elected to the Intel Board of Directors in July and was named Vice Provost for Academic and Space Planning in September of this year.

Clair Tomlin
Claire Tomlin
Academic Leadership Award

Claire Tomlin is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley and holds the Charles A. Desoer Chair in Engineering. Among her numerous awards and honors are an NSF Career Award (1999), a MacArthur Fellowship (2006), and IEEE Transportation Technologies Award (2017). She is a pioneer in hybrid systems for collision avoidance and avionics safety, as well as applications in other domains such as military operations, business strategies, and power grid control. For the past two years she has developed and led a summer program for Girls in Engineering, which has served more than 200 students from 60 Bay Area schools. She joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 2005 after holding faculty positions at Stanford.

Elizabeth Churchill
Executive Leadership Award

Dr. Elizabeth Churchill, winner of the Executive Leadership Award, has been an innovator in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) for more than 20 years. Following her PhD in cognitive sciences at University of Cambridge, she turned her attention to developing effective social media technologies. She conducted groundbreaking work on collaborative virtual environments, embodied conversation agents, and other initiatives on locative media and media spaces. She co-authored a recent special issue of Interacting with Computers on “Feminism and HCI,” which included considerations of gender and self in everyday life, emotional landscapes in design, and the adoption of technologies in leisure activities. Dr. Churchill is a Distinguished Scientist of the ACM and currently serves as Director of User Experience at Google. Her work has appeared in more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and she holds more than 50 patents.

Vidya Ganapati
Early Career Award

The winner of the Early Career Award also has ties to UC Berkeley, having completed her PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 2015. Vidya Ganapati demonstrates a range of research accomplishments, including applications in solar cells for energy efficient electronics and advanced imaging for surgical robotics. She completed predoctoral research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently works for Verily Life Sciences. She has been active in teaching and mentoring girls and young women through programs such as Girls Who Code, Science Club for Girls, and the Girls in Engineering summer camp.

Code to Inspire
Next Generation Engagement Award

Founded by Fereshteh Forough in 2015, Code to Inspire (CTI) offers an after-school computer science curriculum for high-school and college-age Afghan women. Winner of the Next Generation Engagement Award, CTI is the first coding school for women in Afghanistan, providing not only a safe educational environment but the tools for financial empowerment and social independence. The school enrolls 50 students, age 15 to 25, who receive daily lessons in Herat, Afghanistan. Founder and CEO Forough notes, “By giving our students the power to become the primary income-makers in their households and training them to become leaders in their community, we help empower our students to …challenge old norms simply through the process of doing their work.” More about the organization is at

Ruzena Bajcsy
Lifetime Achievement Award

Ruzena Bajcsy, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director Emeritus of CITRIS and the Banatao Institute. Her current research areas include artificial intelligence; biosystems and computational biology; control, intelligent systems, and robotics; graphics and human-computer interaction, computer vision; and security. Dr. Bajcsy has authored over 225 articles in journals and conference proceedings, 25 book chapters, and 66 technical reports, and has served on many editorial boards.Dr. Bajcsy has been an inspiration to generations of women in robotics and computer science, and has been a pioneer in her field. She was the first woman to get a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in Slovakia, and went on to obtain two PhDs from Stanford. She worked at the University of Pennsylvania for thirty years, as Professor and Chair of Computer Science and Engineering, and was the Founder and Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics and Active Sensory Perception (GRASP) Lab. In 1998, she became the first woman to lead the National Science Foundation’s Directorate of Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

CITRIS and the Banatao Institute are pleased to recognize these inspiring leaders, among the many nominations submitted from around the world.  

To view the program for the “Women in Technology” event on October 5 at UC Berkeley, visit

Women in Technology was presented by CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, and other partners from industry and academia.