Katia Obraczka named director of CITRIS at UC Santa Cruz

Collage of two photos: A grove of redwood trees and a portrait of Katia Obraczka.

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute (CITRIS) are pleased to welcome Katia Obraczka, professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, as the campus director of CITRIS at UC Santa Cruz

In her new role, Obraczka will be responsible for facilitating the development of research, industrial collaborations and education opportunities within UC Santa Cruz that align with CITRIS’s mission of using information technology to address society’s most pressing challenges. She brings significant expertise and experience to the position as a renowned systems and networking researcher and longtime CITRIS affiliate.

Obraczka aims to continue to grow the amount of interdisciplinary research conducted at CITRIS at UC Santa Cruz, as well as the institute’s engagement with students, various campus institutes and programs, and fellow CITRIS campuses at Berkeley, Davis and Merced. She notes the importance of using the UC Santa Cruz location to its advantage to work with established companies and startups in Silicon Valley and the Central Coast, especially those involving sustainable aviation and agriculture. 

“I am very honored and excited to become the new UCSC CITRIS director and to carry on the important mission of the institute,” Obraczka said. “I am looking forward to increasing the visibility and footprint of CITRIS at UC Santa Cruz by expanding its research and education portfolio and fostering more collaboration with industry.”

She celebrates the diversity of UC Santa Cruz’s academic and research efforts, which will be crucial for addressing societal challenges in an interdisciplinary manner. 

“The campus has been a leader in organic and sustainable agriculture, which leverages our position in the northern part of California’s Central Coast and proximity to the Salinas Valley — one of the most fertile farming regions in the United States,” she said.

Obraczka received B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and she completed M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from the University of Southern California (USC). She was a research scientist at USC’s Information Sciences Institute and held a joint appointment at USC’s computer science department before joining the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC Santa Cruz. She has served as graduate director of the computer engineering program and more recently as undergraduate director of computer science.

She was named a fellow of the IEEE — one of the highest honors given by the institute — in 2014 for her research contributions to energy-efficient protocols and routing for wireless networks.

As a CITRIS principal investigator, Obraczka has applied her expertise in the Internet of Things (IoT) to address complex issues of public safety, ranging from disaster prediction to patient care. She received CITRIS Seed Awards in 2010, 2018 and 2021 for multicampus, interdisciplinary projects and joined the fall 2021 CITRIS Foundry cohort to develop a low-cost system that detects pressure injuries in low-mobility patients.  She has served on the CITRIS at UC Santa Cruz faculty advisory board since 2018.

“I am very happy to see Katia take on this critical position within CITRIS, and I am looking forward to continuing and expanding our many programs at UCSC under her leadership,” said CITRIS Director Costas Spanos

Obraczka’s new position was effective June 1. She succeeds J.J. Garcia-Luna-Aceves, who served as UC Santa Cruz campus director since 2018.