By Katie E. Ismael
Two accomplished alumni from UC San Diego’s Computer Science and Engineering Department were celebrated for their contributions in academia and industry during this year’s CSE Research Open House.
Darrell Long (Ph.D. ’88), a Distinguished Professor of Engineering at the University of California Santa Cruz, and Jeff Carter (B.A. ’86), the vice president overseeing relational database services at Amazon, were selected as the 2021 CSE Distinguished Alumni.
They were honored during the third annual CSE Research Open House held April 28 that provided networking for industry, alumni, and graduate students and highlighted the broad range of research being done by faculty, alumni and students at CSE.
“We are so proud to have you as distinguished alumni of our department,” said CSE Department Chair Sorin Lerner. “It’s always heartwarming to see the impact we as educators have on our students and, in turn, see the impact they make in our world.”
Meet our new CSE Distinguished Alumni.
Long holds the Kumar Malavalli Endowed Chair of Storage Systems Research at UC Santa Cruz and is director emeritus of the Storage Systems Research Center and director of the NSF I/UCRC Center for Storage Systems Research at the university. He has authored highly cited research papers on web caching, distributed file systems, power-aware hard disk management in mobile computing, and low-bandwidth multicast techniques for video on demand, among other topics.
And he owes that success to UC San Diego, which “took a chance on a kid from El Cajon,” he recalled to the audience joining the Research Open House virtually.
“My father was a mechanic and a machinist, my mom was a mom and helped run a small shop. I admired the professors so much… UC San Diego took a chance on this kid from El Cajon and it was absolutely life transforming,” he said.
He recalls entering the computer science field just at the edge of when it transformed from large computers that filled rooms to computers that sat on your desktop. Today he’s been a professor for 34 years and has produced a diverse group of 20 Ph.D. students and educated thousands of students, he noted.
Long has been elevated to Fellow of the IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, “for contributions to storage systems architecture and performance”. In 2008 he was inducted a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a member of the IEEE Computer Society, the Association for Computing Machinery, the American Society for Engineering Education, the USENIX Association, Upsilon Pi Epsilon, and Sigma Xi.
Long has also served as the vice chair and then chair of the University of California Committee on Research Policy. Additionally, he has served on the University of California President’s Council on the National Laboratories, and the Science & Technology, National Security and Intelligence committees for those laboratories.
Carter is the vice president responsible for Relational Database Services (RDS), which provides commercial, open source and graph databases as services to Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers. RDS is one of the “big 5” services inside AWS and is approximately the size of a Fortune 500 business inside the Amazon portfolio.
Prior to this role, Carter spent five years in Amazon.com as part of the eCommerce Foundation (eCF) team. And before joining Amazon, he spent 30 years at Teradata in a variety of roles.
Reflecting on his CSE roots, he recalled a class that made a really big difference and showed him where he wanted to be-- a class on data structures taught by Walter Burkhard.
“This is where the theory combined with the application and really came home to me and started to make sense. I recognized this is what I wanted to do with my life,” he said.
He recalled the influence of another professor, Keith Muller, who later became a friend, mentor and business partner. “We spent 25 years changing the field that’s now called big data, machine learning, analytics. We were at the forefront of doing that at Teradata.”
Muller is now a professor again at CSE. And Long’s connections to UC San Diego have remained strong too: he met his wife at UC San Diego and they have a son who followed in his parent’s footsteps and is an alumnus as well. Long has gone on to serve as the chairperson for the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Corporate Affiliates Program (CAP) Executive Board, and in 2020 he served as the vice chair on the Jacobs School of Engineering Council of Advisors.
“I have no doubt that my relationship with UC San Diego will continue and that the great events of my life that have yet to happen will be related,” he said.