Katia Obraczka appointed director of CITRIS at UC Santa Cruz

Portrait of Katia Obraczka
Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Katia Obraczka.
Katia Obraczka, professor of computer science and engineering, has been appointed director of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute at UC Santa Cruz. She will be responsible for leading operations and fostering impactful technological innovation on campus through the center.

"I am very honored and excited to become the new UCSC CITRIS Director and carry on the important mission of the institute,” Obraczka said. “My goal is to continue to expand UCSC CITRIS engagement with faculty and students across campus and with our sister campuses, working on interdisciplinary research that uses technology for the social good. I am really looking forward to increasing the visibility and footprint of CITRIS at UCSC by expanding its research and education portfolio and fostering more collaboration with industry."

CITRIS and the Banatao Institute is a multi-campus research center that includes UC Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Davis and Merced focused on IT research with societal and economic benefits for all. It aims to shorten the pipeline between innovative research on emerging technologies in labs across these campuses and its application, in partnership with government and private industry. Core technology initiatives include CITRIS Aviation, Climate, Health, and People and Robots. 

At UC Santa Cruz, CITRIS programs include the Campus Seed Funding Program, which supports early stage interdisciplinary research; the Tech for Social Good funding program for student projects; and the CITRIS Initiative for Drone Education and Research. The strengths of CITRIS UCSC faculty and researchers include the design of microgrids and energy-management solutions, machine learning in monitoring and control of cyber-physical systems (CPS) and data analytics, the application of control theory and formal methods in the design of CPS, and new Internet of Things (IoT) protocols and systems aiming at solving important environmental and societal issues. UCSC Professor of Electrical Engineering Ricardo Sanfelice leads the CITRIS Aviation Initiative. 

UCSC Chancellor Cynthia Larive called Obraczka a great fit for the position: “Katia’s work fully embraces the CITRIS mission of fostering rich interdisciplinary research that benefits society. I look forward to her leadership in bringing together brilliant minds from across our campus and at our partner institutions to tackle the pressing issues of our day.”  

Obraczka is an expert in computer networks, distributed systems, internet information systems, and operating systems. She runs the internet Research Group, which studies all levels of networking design including data center design, network security, wireless sensor networks, IoT and edge computing and intelligence.

Her research has focused on developing tools to monitor wildfire risk, such as a decision-support tool called EUREKA that uses a sensor network and drones to provide information about environmental conditions. Another project, called the Pressure Injury Monitoring and Prevention project, uses sensors with a monitoring software to provide data about the risk of pressure injuries, or bed sores, for patients with low mobility. 

“Katia applies her extensive expertise in Internet of Things research to create innovative and dynamic networks that connect sensors, devices, and software to solve environmental and health care problems, showing a dedication to developing technology for the benefit of society across a diverse range of applications,” said Alexander Wolf, dean of the Baskin School of Engineering. “This area is one that is ripe for exploration and development, and I’m so pleased that Katia will guide our students and researchers in taking on impactful projects in this field and beyond.”    

Obraczka will take over UCSC CITRIS leadership from Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering J.J. Garcia-Luna-Aceves, who has served in the position since 2018. 

Obraczka received B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and an M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Southern California. She served as a research scientist and faculty member at USC’s Department of Computer Science before joining the UCSC Baskin School of Engineering in 2001.