A ‘rich history of impact’: Longtime UC Berkeley professor Doug Tygar dies at 57

Sam Albillo/File

Doug Tygar — a UC Berkeley School of Information and electrical engineering and computer sciences, or EECS, department professor — unexpectedly died Jan. 16 at the age of 57.

Tygar was part of UC Berkeley’s graduating class of 1982, after which he went on to Harvard University, where he received a doctorate in computer science. Before returning to UC Berkeley as a faculty member, Tygar was a tenured professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

“Doug cared a great deal about a great many things, including the role of computing in society, and the institution of UC Berkeley and academia generally,” said Marti Hearst, a professor in the School of Information and a friend of Tygar’s.

Tygar’s contributions to the campus include helping create and teach CS 161, an undergraduate course in computer security. He also established the Master of Information and Cybersecurity for the School of Information in 2018.

Since his passing, many of Tygar’s coworkers, friends and past students have posted messages on a forum run by the School of Information, revering him for his mentorship and contributions to his field.

His areas of interest included computer security, privacy and digital rights management, and he has published multiple books related to these topics.

Tygar led a study group for the Defense Department’s Information Science and Technology Advisory Board that wrote a report titled “Security with Privacy.” Its studies have had a “rich history of impact” in the Defense Department and scientific community according to Deirdre Mulligan, associate dean and head of school for the School of Information.

Mulligan added that the research directions the group outlined still impact the fields of privacy and security today.

Throughout his time as a mentor, Tygar formed enduring relationships with his students.

“His former graduate students from all over the world would stop by to see him since they felt he was forever their advisor, even though years had passed since their graduation,” said Angie Abbatecola, who provides administrative support for the EECS Security and Privacy team, in an email.

Aside from his academic contributions, Tygar maintained a “large presence” and extensive knowledge on diverse topics including literature, music and politics, according to Hearst. She added that while Tygar claimed to hate meetings, he would be the one to liven them up.

Information about Tygar’s memorial will be released at a later date, according to the EECS department.

“Long ago he told me that a professorship is a good job, because it allows one to age with dignity,” Hearst said in the email. “I am deeply saddened that he was not able to live out this plan, and I will miss him greatly.”

Contact Emma Rooholfada at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @erooholfada_dc.