Every year, the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering selects and recognizes outstanding achievements by a number of its alumni, faculty members and students who have excelled in various fields. Professor Jens Palsberg is a recipient of the Eon Instrumentation Inc. Excellence in Teaching Award.
Jens Palsberg’s student-centered teaching style and meticulously organized classes have consistently earned him high praise from computer science and engineering students at UCLA over the last two decades. More recently, students from chemistry, physics, mathematics and other disciplines have taken his classes and given similar rave reviews.
A professor of computer science, Palsberg regularly teaches an undergraduate course on compiler construction. He also teaches graduate courses on quantum computing and quantum algorithms. The two-course sequence is now a requirement for the new Master of Quantum Science and Technology program offered through the Physics and Astronomy Department.
For Palsberg, cultivating a welcoming learning environment is important to teaching. He makes every effort to help students learn new and complex concepts. He has applied the same creative approach to his own learning, exploring quantum computing as a new research focus and became one of the world’s renowned leaders in the field in only a few years. He has since published several papers on the topic and is part of a national effort to build undergraduate programs in quantum computing.
Regarded by many students as a clear and engaging professor, Palsberg designs his lectures with a memorable hook and a preview on what each lecture will entail. He has strived to look at problems not only from an instructor’s standpoint, but from students’ point of view as well, making easy-to-understand connections as he progresses through the syllabus. He aims to make his lectures as self-contained as possible, allowing students to stay focused on learning each new concept.
Palsberg joined UCLA in 2003 from Purdue University where he was a professor. His research interests include programming languages, software engineering and quantum computing. At UCLA, he served as chair of the Computer Science Department from 2010 to 2015 and is now the faculty director of the Science Hub for Humanity and Artificial Intelligence — a collaboration between UCLA and Amazon launched in 2021. He received a master’s in computer science and mathematics from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, where he also earned a Ph.D. in computer science.
He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) — the world’s largest scientific and educational computing society — and an associate editor of ACM Transactions on Quantum Computing. He received the 2012 ACM SIGPLAN Distinguished Service Award and was named an ACM Distinguished Speaker.
UCLA Samueli’s senior teaching excellence award this year is sponsored by Eon Instrumentation Inc. Founded in 1961 and headquartered in Van Nuys, California, the company operates a second facility in Oceanside and designs and manufactures military-qualified electronics products for airborne, shipborne and ground vehicle platforms.