UC Leaders Share Message of Resiliency, Highlight Research During CITRIS Town Hall

CITRIS Town Hall 2020

On December 9, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute hosted a virtual town hall to reflect on how the University of California research community has developed interdisciplinary efforts and used tech ingenuity to respond to society’s needs in 2020. 

University of California leaders gathered for the virtual event including UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ. “I am so inspired by the resilience and creativity of our community,” Christ told the audience, noting Berkeley’s response to the pandemic, financial instability, and social injustice. 

Theresa Maldonado, vice president of research and innovation at the UC Office of the President, spoke about the challenges facing California in the years ahead and how the work of the CITRIS research community is poised to address pressing concerns such as wildfires and other climate change impacts.

Costas Spanos, the director of CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, highlighted programming and research impacts in 2020, which included raising $15 million in funding for COVID-19 response programs, participating in four State task forces to inform responsible tech policy, and organizing 70 collaborative cross-sector convenings. 

William Flounders, the executive director of the Marvell NanoLab, discussed how the lab developed a plan to reopen during the pandemic to provide service continuity for the research community, while CITRIS Policy Lab director Brandie Nonnecke described engaging with state agencies to foster responsible technology use for COVID-19 tracking among other uses. 

Also on the research front, Joshua Viers, UC Merced’s associate dean for research and CITRIS campus director, noted research collaborations that aim to address California’s water, energy, farming, and equity needs. 

CITRIS Executive Director Camille Crittenden highlighted ways to engage with CITRIS in the coming year, such as applying to the CITRIS Foundry tech incubator and attending the Women in Tech Symposium

Randy Katz, the vice chancellor for research at UC Berkeley, also looked to the decades to come and noted that California must continue to be economically competitive. “The kind of innovation [and] entrepreneurship programs that are fostered by institutes like CITRIS are going to be very important going forward as we hopefully will innovate our way out of the current economic challenges we face as a society,” Katz said. 

Watch the CITRIS Town Hall 2020 remarks and Q&A:


The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute drive interdisciplinary innovation for social good with faculty researchers and students from four University of California campuses – Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz – along with public and private partners.

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