In the Spotlight: Prof. Bethanie Stadler

In the summer of this year, ECE’s Prof. Bethanie Stadler will be making her way to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as part of a collaborative research project with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). She is one of an international 4-person team which includes C-SPIN director and ECE faculty Prof. Jian-Ping Wang, and Profs. Jürgen Kosel and Aurelien Manchon of KAUST, who will work on developing novel memory devices that can provide high memory density combined with low power consumption per bit.

The opportunity stemmed from Prof. Stadler’s global lecture tour, which included Saudi Arabia, as an IEEE Magnetics Society Distinguished Lecturer in 2015. The talk titled “Magnetic Nanowires: Revolutionizing Hard Drives, Random Access Memory (RAM), and Cancer Treatment,” delivered at KAUST resulted in a subsequent grant from the institution. The proposed project is a collaboration on several levels. Besides drawing on the labs that the individual investigators lead in their respective institutions, they will also rely on other facilities on the University campus (Minnesota Nanofabrication Center, Characterization Facility, and Minnesota Supercomputer Institute) and the expertise of researchers attached to these facilities.

The goals for the project are twofold, and combine science with outreach. Firstly, the undertaking will be a bold step towards resolving the challenges of data analysis and storage. Secondly, the project will include an educational aspect specifically targeted at women. Dr. Stadler will have the opportunity to reach out to students in Saudi women’s colleges and discuss her areas of interest with them. With the project scheduled to be completed over three years, and Dr. Stadler anticipates being at KAUST during years 1 and 3 of the project. So, she will have multiple opportunities to engage with local women scientists in training.

Prof. Stadler as Scientist and Teacher

As faculty in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Prof. Stadler has been with the University of Minnesota for almost 20 years. Her areas of expertise include magnetic nanowire arrays for high density RAM, nanowire RFID tags for cells, and integrated photonics. For the collaborative project with KAUST, she will draw on her expertise in nano-imprinting for long range order in aluminum oxide templates, and in design and synthesis of magnetic nanowires.

Prof. Stadler also has a significant trail of experience leading and conducting educational outreach activities and lectures to diverse audiences ranging from school students to graduate students and scholars in the discipline.

She has worked energetically to engage school children in science. She has led week-long summer camps for 10 years, designed for children between the ages of 8 and 15 teaching them the basics of circuits theory or electrochemistry. For example, camps included “Circuits are a Snap” and “Electric Ladies Week,” with the latter being all-girls camps. Other activities by Prof. Stadler include science demos at various venues, a nanotechnology open house attended by 450 students from across Minnesota, and helping High Tech Kids and high school robotics teams plan two statewide Kick-Offs for FIRST Technical Challenge.

Her service engagements have included serving as the faculty mentor for Society of Women Engineers (SWE) from 2005 to 2015. As a scientist, and engineer, Prof. Stadler has contributed her expertise in multiple ways to the IEEE Magnetics Society and the Materials Research Society. In 2015, she was invited to be a Distinguished Lecturer for the IEEE. In 2012 and 2013, Prof. Stadler was invited to give lectures at the IEEE Magnetics Summer Schools in Chennai, India and Assissi Italy, respectively. Impressed with the immense value of hosting such a school, she proposed and successfully won the bid to have the 2015 IEEE Magnetic Summer School hosted at the University of Minnesota in which IEEE funded 80 international students to come to Minnesota and learn about magnetics from global experts.

These diverse yet similar experiences will be resources for Prof. Stadler as she addresses the educational aspect of the proposed collaboration between the University and KAUST. While the project investigators and co-investigators will be devoting a significant part of their time to their project responsibilities, they are also looking forward to training at least five students over the span of three years. As part of their training, they will learn the latest micro and nanofabrication methods, and the use of equipment to carry out the fabrication processes. Another critical aspect of the knowledge exchange is the planned student exchange program between the University and KAUST.

The goal is to develop students into professionals in the discipline who learn from exposure to experts, other researchers, and differing work environments.

KAUST currently has a Visiting Student Research Program that the investigators hope to harness to recruit students from the University of Minnesota. Prof. Stadler also hopes to encourage students to attend training and learning opportunities such as the IEEE Magnetics Summer School, and lectures and demonstrations offered by the project’s lead scientists at both institutions.

Extending the educational and outreach aspects of this unique research opportunity, the team will also be offering short courses for female students in science and engineering while in Saudi Arabia. While these courses themselves will be hosted at KAUST, attendees will be from other Saudi institutions such as KAU Jeddah.

The collaboration with KAUST is obviously an exciting opportunity for Prof. Stadler and the Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering. We are hoping that this technical and educational collaboration will lead to advancements in the area of novel memory devices, and attract more students, especially women students to lead in the invention of new devices and technologies.

For more on Prof. Stadler’s research and accomplishments, click here

For more on Prof. Stadler’s Taylor Award for Distinguished Service, click here.