Renowned computer scientist Shafi Goldwasser to join Simons Institute

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Shafi Goldwasser, one of only three women to have won the Turing Award, referred to as “the Nobel Prize of Computing,” will become the new director of the campus’s Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing on Jan. 1 of next year.

Goldwasser, who received her doctorate in computer science from UC Berkeley in 1984, will also be joining the faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.

Throughout her career, Goldwasser has made major contributions to cryptography and computational complexity in the field of computer science. In 2012, she and co-recipient Silvio Micali were presented with a Turing Award for their innovative work that pioneered new methods for verifying proofs in complexity theory.

According to Luca Trevisan, senior scientist at the Simons Institute, the campus received a $60 million grant in 2012 from the Simons Foundation to establish an institute where researchers could focus on how computer science applies to other disciplines.

“We’ve become the leading center of cooperative, computational research,” said Richard Karp, founding director of the Simons Institute.

Trevisan said the Institute conducted an international search following Karp’s decision to step down after a five-year term, emphasizing that the Institute was looking for someone well-known and highly respected in the computer science discipline.

“Shafi was a natural choice, she was one of the top-world leaders in the theory of computation,” Karp added.

Despite women making up only 8 percent of people in computer science, the Simons Institute makes strong efforts to include women in its programs, according to Karp. These efforts are demonstrated by the prevalence of women on the scientific advisory board, as well as in research fellow positions.

According to Trevisan, Goldwasser poses an especially strong representation of women in her specialty, cryptology.

“Goldwasser has been a major role model in the field of the theory of computing,” Trevisan said.

Contact Naira Khalid at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @nairakhalid.