2019 IEEE PES Outstanding Young Engineer Award for Prof. Sairaj Dhople

Prof. Sairaj Dhople is a recipient of the 2019 IEEE Power and Energy Society’s Outstanding Young Engineer Award. The award recognizes his contributions to the “analysis and control of renewable generation and microgrids.”

Sairaj’s primary research interests are modeling, analysis, and control of power electronics and power systems with a focus on renewable integration. He currently serves as Associate Professor in ECE. The research group he leads is focused on advancing solutions at the circuit and system levels that can bring about power systems that are sustainable, resilient in disaster situations, and customized to meet local needs.

Among other prominent awards Sairaj has previously received are the University’s McKnight Land-Grant Professorship (2017-2019), and the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award (2015). He is currently serving as an editor of IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion, and IEEE Power Engineering Letters. He is also serving as vice president of the University Education Subcommittee, part of the Power and Energy Education Committee (IEEE PES).

Sairaj earned his doctoral degree in 2012 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

The IEEE PES Outstanding Young Engineer Award was established to recognize engineers 35 years of age or under “for outstanding contributions in the leadership of technical society activities including local and/or transnational PES and other technical societies, leadership in community and humanitarian activities, and evidence of technical competence through significant engineering achievements.” The award, administered by the PES Awards and Recognition Committee, is presented annually at the IEEE PES Annual Meeting.

Three ECE Faculty Elevated as IEEE Fellows

Prof. Murti Salapaka

ECE faculty, Prof. Murti Salapaka (Vincentine Hermes-Luh Chair in Electrical Engineering) has been named an IEEE Fellow effective January 2019. He has been cited by the IEEE for his application of control and systems technology in nano-science. Prof. Salapaka’s research focuses on systems and control, and spans control theory and its applications to nano-interrogation and bio-manipulation at the molecular scale using laser tweezers and atomic force microscopes. Under his direction, Prof. Salapaka’s research group are exploring several complementary areas: network, control, and system theory, nanoscience and related physics, molecular biology, and energy. These areas of research have had and are poised to have far reaching impact on fundamental research and application.

NETWORK, CONTROL, AND SYSTEM THEORY

At the theoretical level, Salapaka and his team of researchers have made significant contributions to several strands of theoretical research including, learning structure from measured data in networks with feedback, structured control, multiobjective control synthesis, and distributed computations over networked systems. Outcomes of their theoretical research have informed their approach to the applied aspects of their work.

NANOSCIENCE AND NANOTECHNOLOGY

In the area of nanoscience and nanotechnology, Salapaka and his team have deployed control and systems frameworks to establish new perspectives and methods. At the experimental level, this has included customized atomic force microscopes, in-house realized optical tweezers to supplement opto-mechanical effects, and advanced TIRF (total internal reflection fluorescence) microscopy. At the theoretical level, his research has included exploration of fundamental limits on energy need for computation, sources of noise, and how feedback relates to nanoscience and nanotechnology.

MOLECULAR RESEARCH

Wielding innovative tools and technologies based in control and systems, and in nanoscience and nanotechnology research that Salapaka has been carrying out, his lab has been conducting single molecule research focused on intracellular transport and protein folding-unfolding. Intracellular transport is effected by molecular-motors, and a disturbance in the motion of these motors has been linked to neuro-degenrative diseases. Murti created a learning-based approach for the detection of events in single-molecule interactions, and the software implementing the method is being widely used by molecular biologists. His work bears significant import on detection and emergence of diseased states.

ENERGY AND POWER NETWORKS

Salapaka’s research interest extends to energy and power networks, seeking novel ways to address the challenges of system reliability and power quality introduced by renewable power generation. Using techniques for cloud-based and peer-to-peer networks, he proposes a system that can provide a coordinated response by multiple units to adjust consumption and generation of electricity in response to grid events. He uses concepts from nonlinear and robust control theory to design such self-organizing power systems, a key feature of which is plug-and-play architecture which allows devices and smaller power networks to engage or disengage from the other power networks or the entire grid. A revolutionary design, it is soon to be tested across multiple scenarios, deploying more than a hundred devices ranging from photovoltaics and battery storage inverters, to home appliances.

Salapaka is the author of numerous journal articles that document and present his pioneering systems approach to nanoscience and nanotechnology. Besides carrying out trailblazing research with outcomes at the fundamental and application levels, he has also generously given his time towards sharing his research know-how, techniques, and tools with the controls community through workshops and tutorials. He has also performed  critical service roles as editor, keynote speaker, and lecturer at platforms organized by IEEE and non-IEEE entities. 

Learn more about Prof. Salapaka’s research and lab here.

Prof. Chris Kim

ECE faculty, Prof. Chris Kim has been named an IEEE Fellow effective January 2019. He has been cited by the IEEE for his contributions to on-chip circuit reliability evaluation and characterization. Prof. Kim’s research focuses on developing circuit technologies that can enable smart and energy-efficient integrated systems. He leads the VLSI Research Laboratory, and under his direction, his team are engaged in high-impact work with applications that include internet of things, neuromorphic computing, microprocessors, medical devices, and post-CMOS technologies.

ODOMETER CIRCUITS

An outstanding contribution to the advancement of technology is Kim’s work in the area of circuit reliability. His invention of odometer circuits, a new class of compact on-chip sensors can reveal details of circuit aging that are otherwise impossible to detect and measure using conventional characterization methods. His research team has since developed and demonstrated over twenty odometer designs, each of them uniquely targeting different aging mechanisms in technologies ranging from 130nm to 14nm. 

The original silicon odometer design is based on a simple circuit that measures the beat frequency between a new ring oscillator, and an old one. The design was presented at the 2007 VLSI Circuits Symposium and was subsequently invited to the IEEE JSSC, and to many other fora after.

Among the other odometers that Kim’s research team has designed are: the all-in-one silicon odometer (separately monitors the impact of Bias Temperature Instability, and Hot Carrier Injection, both of which are critical reliability issues), statistical odometer (designed to study the statistical nature of circuit aging); dielectric breakdown odometer; random telegraph noise odometer; and the plasma induced damage odometer. The work was presented at several high profile publications, symposia, and other venues, and the team are recipients of multiple design awards. In addition to these, Kim has presented several odometer structures for diagnosing SRAM aging at various eminent publications. 

In 2016, Kim received the Semiconductor Research Corporation Technical Excellence Award in recognition of his silicon odometer invention. As a further testament of the critical nature of his work, the odometer design has been adopted by companies such as IBM, GlobalFoundries, and Texas Instruments.

While Kim and his team have carried out invaluable research that has direct application and impact in and of itself, from a longview perspective, the research and experience behind the design of novel odometers has established a robust and enduring foundation for work involving the modeling and mitigation of circuit aging.

BEYOND-CMOS ELECTRONIC CIRCUITS

Besides Kim’s path-breaking contributions to circuit reliability technologies, he has also made singular contributions to beyond-CMOS electronic circuits such as spintronics and flexible electronics. He works closely with physicists, material scientists, and chemical engineers in his quest for circuit-based solutions. Besides developing solutions that have direct impact on current and future technology, Kim’s interdisciplinary work is also setting the foundation for future research by drawing attention to some of the challenges that lie ahead, ranging from materials to design to architectures that are yet to be developed to make spin-based computing a reality.   

Kim is an active contributor to multiple journals in his discipline through much-cited technical reports, publications, and presentations. He and his team of researchers have also been recipients of several best paper and IC design contest awards. In addition to these contributions, he has generously shared his time by volunteering as chair of several committees, sub-committees, and program committees, as associate editor, panelist and tutorial organizer. 

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is proud of We are proud of Prof. Chris Kim’s accomplishments, and those of the team he leads, and congratulate him on his elevation to IEEE Fellow.

Learn more about Prof. Chris Kim’s research and lab here.

Prof. Nicola Elia

ECE faculty, Prof. Nicola Elia has been named an IEEE Fellow effective January 2019. He has been cited by the IEEE for his contributions to networked control systems. Prof. Elia’s research focuses on topics within decision and control systems, including control with communication constraints and networked control systems. His recent research has focused on networked distributed optimization, and cooperative multi-agent systems.

INTEGRATED THEORY OF INFORMATION AND CONTROL

Control theory and communication theory and their applications have been evolving independently over the recent decades, but with the wide availability of large communication networks, there was the potential for groundbreaking new applications that would entail close interaction between control and communication systems. Prof. Elia recognized the challenge and spearheaded the development of an integrated theory of information and control. In the separate evolution of the two lines of theory, each focused on unique problems and used different mathematical tools in their approach to problem-solving, which presented significant conceptual roadblocks. Elia and some of the early researchers recognized the need for a unified theory that could augment both control and communication theories as they currently existed.

Elia’s research contributions were based off his search for an integrated theory that would interpret feedback control systems as real-time information processing systems, while simultaneously interpreting feedback communication systems as causal decision making systems. His work has shone new light on how limited information provided by unreliable communication channels can impact the performance and stability of feedback systems. At the level of applications, his research has demonstrated how feedback controls could help design efficient communication systems.

PROF. ELIA’S RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS

Elia’s body of research is pivotal, and has made significant contributions in the bringing together of information and control theories, which in turn have impacted the analysis and design of networked systems. His work will have wide ranging impact, from better designed networks of autonomous vehicles and robots to electric grids, and from manufacturing systems to social networks. The education and training of systems engineers will eventually reflect Elia’s unified theories, which will lead to further technological innovations. 

Prof. Elia has made seminal contributions to networked control systems as seen in his numerous technical publications, reports, and presentations (communication uncertainties, networked control systems design, design of communication systems with access to feedback, and controller design methods). But in addition to these, he has also actively and generously shared his time by serving as a chair and member of various IEEE and non-IEEE committees, as associate editor and reviewer for journals, and organizer of multiple expert sessions and workshops.

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is proud of Prof. Nicola Elia’s accomplishments, and those of the team he leads, and congratulate him on his elevation to IEEE Fellow.

Fighting Cancer Using Graphene-based Early Detection Techniques

Spotlight on Kriti Agarwal

Meet Kriti Agarwal. Kriti is a doctoral candidate working on improving detection times and analysis of cancer-causing DNA mutations using big data and mathematical techniques. She is conducting her research under the guidance of ECE faculty Prof. Jeong-Hyun Cho.

A recipient of two fellowships and several other honors recognizing her research, Kriti’s path to excellence in research began in India. Raised by academic parents, who emphasized the value of education and exploration, Kriti earned her bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication from Manipal Institute of Technology, India. Work beckoned after graduation, and Kriti joined IBM as an engineer, quickly making her way up as project lead. But even as Kriti was rising through the ranks at IBM, she began to feel restless, and yearned for new challenges. In her search for a new path, Kriti went back to her undergraduate roots, where as a student of engineering, she was introduced to nanotechnology. And while she was always interested in the area, it now struck an exciting chord within her.

Kriti is working on developing innovative mathematical techniques that can improve cancer detection, and eventually disease prognosis.

Kriti started toying with the idea of a career in research, particularly in nanotechnology, and applied to the University of Minnesota, drawn by its reputation in nano-based research. When she arrived at the department, she sought out Prof. Cho, intrigued by his 3D micro and nano engineering research group, and requested a tour of his lab. The tour clinched it for Kriti; she had found her calling. And after careful vetting by Prof. Cho, she became a member of his research team.

Kriti’s Research

Currently, Kriti is working on developing innovative mathematical techniques that can improve cancer detection, and eventually disease prognosis. Working with other researchers in Prof. Cho’s lab, she has developed a novel liquid biopsy method that is capable of detecting DNA mutations. However, along the way, Kriti has accomplished several firsts, and introduced many innovations, starting with fabricating three-dimensional incarnations of the typically two-dimensional structure of graphene.

Why 3D Graphene?

Kriti found that when planar 2D graphene nanoribbons are curved to form 3D cylindrical graphene nanotubes, changes are introduced in the near-field enhancement.

When disease causing DNA mutations take place, there is a corresponding modification in the proteins, which makes detection and analysis of proteins critical for diagnosing diseases, as well as for predicting the prognosis. The Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) method can provide vital information about the structure of biological specimens, besides molecular vibrations, hydrogen bonds, chemical composition, and other characteristics that serve as disease markers. However, there is a significant mismatch between the wavelength of incident infrared light, which is on the micrometer scale, and the size of the proteins, which are on the nanometer scale. The mismatch leads to low levels of light absorption and the resulting peaks in the frequency spectrum are barely discernible. The situation presents a need for a technique that can bridge the mismatch.

Enter graphene. With its unique optical, chemical, and other properties, this wonder material is being widely used in and tested for a number of medical and biological applications. When light on the microscale wavelength falls on nanoscale graphene it causes the surface electrons in graphene to oscillate, a phenomenon called surface plasmon resonance (SPR). The graphene plasmons confine the incident light to its surface and enhance the weak energy density due to spatial constrictions. However, limiting the near field (a region of the electromagnetic field around an object) to only the surface of graphene as in the case of 2D graphene-based sensors presents a new challenge. The proteins under observation cannot retain their structure and biological functions if immobilized on 2D graphene. Also, the area of confinement of light is so small that at low molecular concentrations it can take more than twenty-four hours for the specimen to diffuse to the graphene surface.

In her search for a suitable solution, Kriti found that when planar 2D graphene nanoribbons are curved using a process much like the Japenese art of Origami to form 3D cylindrical graphene nanotubes, changes are introduced in the near-field enhancement. The SPR in the fabricated graphene nanotubes offers a stronger confinement of the incident light throughout the enclosed volume, increasing the electric field by six orders of magnitude. Thus, any molecules flowing within the tube are detected with sensitivities in the picomolar range (the concentration of a solution is conveyed by its molarity, and a picomole is a trillionth of a mole).

Kriti uses mathematical techniques for analysis of the data gathered through this liquid biopsy technique. Through methods such as finite element modeling, the spectroscopy measurements will be verified, and deconvoluted, tracking frequency changes for each cancer DNA mutation that takes place as a result of changes in the vibrations of molecular bonds within the DNA specimen.

As Kriti’s research progresses, the deliverable she seeks is a fast, real-time, highly sensitive liquid biopsy technique of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) that is capable of detecting multiple mutations simultaneously. Ultimately, Kriti hopes to create a library of sorts, where such changes in structure and composition, i.e. mutations, are correlated to changes in the spectrum, which can aid in accurate and faster disease diagnosis.

Recognition for her work

Kriti believes that the liquid biopsy technique she is working on, once realized, could substantially improve diagnosis, treatment options, and disease prognosis.

Kriti’s research is gaining recognition, and she is the recipient of multiple awards and honors. She recently received a UMII MnDrive graduate assistantship for 2019-2020, for her work on cancer detection via an innovative liquid biopsy technique based on big data and mathematical methods. Previously, she was the recipient of the Louise T. Dosdall fellowship (2018 – 2019). The fellowship is awarded to women graduate students in the natural or physical sciences and engineering, who hold superior academic records and show professional promise. She also received the Best Poster award at the fall 2018 meeting of the Materials Research Society for her poster, “Geometrical Modification of Hybridized Plasmon Modes in 3D Graphene Nanostructures.” She was one of twenty other recipients from the 2,640 poster entries at the meeting.

Kriti’s other awards and honors include:

Best poster award runner-up at 2018 American Vacuum Society Minnesota Chapter Annual Symposium and Vendor Exhibition.
• Best poster award (3rd place) at 2018 Annual Retreat and Conference organized by the Institute of Engineering in Medicine, University of Minnesota.
• Best poster award at Material Research Society Fall Meeting, November 2017, awarded to 20 posters out of 2500 participants.
• Best poster award at Material Research Society Spring Meeting, April 2015, awarded to 11 posters out of 1900 participants.
• Materials Research Society poster exchange fellowship, 2015 to attend International Materials Research Congress at Cancun, Mexico in August 2015.

Kriti’s research could have far reaching impact. The American Cancer Society estimated 1.7 million new cancer cases in the United States, and approximately 600,000 cancer related deaths in 2018. It is increasingly common for us to have a personal story of dealing with the disease and its aftermath. Despite advancements in treatment options, mortality rates remain high due to delayed detection of the disease owing to reasons such as poor healthcare accessibility, and complications associated with biopsies. Kriti believes that the liquid biopsy technique she is working on, once realized, could substantially improve diagnosis, treatment options, and disease prognosis, especially for people living in non-urban and remote areas. And we are rooting for Kriti all the way!

Learn more about Prof. Jeong-Hyun Cho’s research lab


Prof. Doug Ernie Receives George W. Taylor Award for Distinguished Teaching

In recognition of his exemplary service and dedication to the enhancement of the educational experience of our graduate and undergraduate students, Prof. Doug Ernie has been awarded the 2019 George W. Taylor/CSE Alumni Society Award for Distinguished Teaching.

The George W. Taylor Awards are endowed within the College of Science and Engineering in memory of George W. Taylor, a 1934 graduate of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Established in 1982, the award for Distinguished Teaching recognizes outstanding contributions to undergraduate and/or graduate teaching.

Over his 37-year career at the University of Minnesota, Doug has demonstrated his deep commitment to teaching, innovation, and mentoring not only students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, but also those across the University. He has placed his students at the center of all his teaching oriented endeavors, be they in the classroom, or programs directed at improving the educational experience.

Improving Student Learning Outcomes in the Classroom

As an instructor, Doug has taught classes that range from those offered at the sophomore level, to graduate level courses. Regardless of the level, he brings the same high level of dedication and enthusiasm to his classroom. He is routinely the recipient of outstanding teaching evaluations regardless of the type of class: large lectures, small group discussions, or laboratory experiences. A firm believer in the active learning pedagogy, he acts as a facilitator by encouraging thoughtful discussions among his students over the course material, rather than simply lecturing to them. He takes the active learning approach further by bringing in real world examples into the classroom, so students can relate concepts learned in class with their applications in technological artifacts that are commonly used.

Over his 37-year career at the University of Minnesota, Prof. Ernie has demonstrated his deep commitment to teaching, innovation, and mentoring students, placing them at the center of all his teaching oriented endeavors, within the classroom, and outside.

As one of the faculty leads in the department coordinating the capstone experience, EE 4951W (Senior Design), Doug has persistently endeavored to increase the number of industry-sponsored projects for our students, to expand their real-world experience. In addition to building their technical knowledge and skills, he is committed to honing their non-technical skills such as communication, and developing their sense of professional ethical practice. Doug ensures that there are opportunities for guided written and oral presentations, supported by peer review workshops. More recently, he drew faculty from MIN-Corps to expose students to methods such as Lean LaunchPad to propose and try out their designs.

Doug has actively worked on improving student learning outcomes by revitalizing the introductory circuits/systems and electronics courses, and by integrating the curriculum. The step was taken based on the benefit students would gain—increased retention of core concepts. Another change introduced for similar reasons was the redesign of our laboratories. Being deeply engaged in monitoring our students’ learning outcomes and making continuous improvements in our programs, Doug has (serving on ECE’s ABET Committee) successfully shepherded and assisted our undergraduate programs through the ABET accreditation review process in 2007 and 2013. He continues to lead the department’s ABET’s data collection, analysis, and program improvements in readiness for the upcoming review.

Encouraging Learning Outside the Classroom

In his commitment to enhancing students’ educational experience, Doug has worked to include opportunities that exist outside the traditional classroom. From 1997 to 2013, he coordinated two NSF funded summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs, one within ECE, and another with the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network. Focused on underrepresented groups, the programs aligned with his sustained commitment to expanding the diversity of the student body within STEM. The REU programs successfully encouraged many of the attendees to pursue graduate school, and motivated our students to pursue REU opportunities at other institutions.

In his commitment to enhancing students’ educational experience, Prof. Ernie has worked to include opportunities that go beyond the traditional classroom.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Doug has continued to explore and expand the educational opportunities that our students can draw on. Working with two other ECE faculty members, and the University’s Learning Abroad Center, he has developed a four week study abroad experience for our undergraduate students, in Kenya. Launched in 2015 under the title “Engineering in the Developing World,” Doug assisted in on-site orientation and lead instruction for the course in Nairobi, and oversaw the launch of course related field experience in Nanyuki.

Improving Access to Course Materials

Doug has been leading UNITE Distributed Learning as Director, since 1996. With his guidance, UNITE has improved the availability of graduate courses and programs to working professionals through distance learning. He has also augmented the learning experience for undergraduate and graduate students by making recordings of course lectures delivered in UNITE capable classrooms available to all on-campus students. In addition to this, UNITE’s online course option is now available to all on-campus students who have special circumstances or needs.

Service and Support

Among other student centered commitments, Doug has dedicated his time and energy as faculty advisor to the University chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers for three years from 2009 to 2011. He is also a founding member of the Dignity Project, engaged in supporting the advisor/mentor relationships of faculty and students, and a member of the Student Conflict Resolution Center’s advisory board.

Doug is also the recipient of the Outstanding Mentor Award (2010) by the President’s Distinguished Faculty Mentor Program, of which he is also a supporter and regular participant. He has also previously received the Morse-Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2016, and is currently chair of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering congratulates Prof. Doug Ernie on the Taylor Award. We are proud of him and thank him for his selfless service and dedication to the University’s educational mission.

Besides Doug, previous ECE recipients of the award include, professors James Leger, Stephen Campbell, and Ned Mohan



2019 Innovation Award for Prof. Jian-Ping Wang

In recognition of his entrepreneurial spirit and his outstanding ability to bring to life and commercialize innovative new technologies, Prof. Jian-Ping Wang (Robert Hartmann Chair in Electrical Engineering) has been awarded the 2019 Innovation Award for Entrepreneurial Researcher. The award celebrates his research on the magnetic spin of electrons, and exploration of its usage for next-generation computing technologies. His work has led to the setting up of two startups: Niron, and Zepto Life Technology.

Founded in 2014, Jian-Ping’s start up Niron Magnetics is engaged in the mass production of permanent magnets. Niron’s proprietary iron nitride magnets have greater magnetization and are the less expensive answer to rare-earth magnets, ready to revolutionize the design of electric motors and generators. The magnets are manufactured by a unique process said to be the first of its kind in the world.

Zepto Life Technology is engaged in pioneering work that supports early disease detection that can lead to better patient outcomes and reduce the burden of cost on the patient. The company is developing portable diagnostic devices as well as large scale diagnostic equipment, based on giant magnetoresistance technology and information technology, that are highly sensitive, low cost, and easy to use.

The Innovation Awards, hosted by the OVPR, are a celebration of the achievements of the University’s researchers and the breakthroughs that come about as a result of their efforts. There are four categories of the award: Early Innovator, Entrepreneurial Researcher, Impact, and Committee’s Choice. Read more about the award here

Learn more about Prof. Wang’s research

Learn more about spintronics

Prof. Tony Low Receives McKnight Presidential Fellowship

Prof. Tony Low has been awarded the McKnight Presidential Fellowship for 2019-2020 through 2021-2022. The award recognizes his outstanding research into light-matter interactions in two-dimensional atomic crystals.

Professor Tony Low has made significant contributions to the fundamental understanding of plasmonic and optoelectronic properties in the exciting class of atomically thin two-dimensional materials. His internationally recognized theoretical research provides original blueprints on the use of these materials to manipulate light, particularly in the mid-infrared spectrum. These materials offer the promise of key breakthrough applications in the mid-infrared spectrum, such as nanophotonics, biosensing, beam forming, and thermal detectors. (From the McKnight Presidential Fellows site)

The McKnight Presidential Fellows Program is a three-year award given to exceptional faculty who have been granted both tenure and promotion to associate professor within an academic year. The award recognizes their accomplishments and supports their ongoing research and scholarship. Recipients are recommended by their college dean and chosen at the discretion of the executive vice president and provost based on excellence in research and scholarship, leadership, potential to build top-tier programs, and ability to advance University of Minnesota priorities.

Prof. James Leger is Editor-in-Chief of Optics Express

Prof. James Leger has been named the Editor-in-Chief (EiC) of Optics Express, one of the Optical Society of America’s flagship journals.  Jim started the position in January this year. It is a three year appointment that is renewable once.   With this appointment, he takes leadership of one of the largest optics journals in circulation.

As Editor-in-Chief, Jim is responsible for the overall management of the journal, setting policy and direction, managing and hiring personnel, and ensuring that the journal maintains its high standards of technical quality and fairness. He is assisted by 119 associate editors and 10 deputy editors to handle the over 7,000 submissions made annually to the journal.*

Starting in 1994 as a topical editor for OSA’s Applied Optics, Jim has been involved with editing almost every year since.  His first position at Optics Express in 2004 was as an associate editor, where he was responsible for soliciting reviewers and making final decisions on paper acceptance.  He moved to the position of deputy editor in 2010 where he managed a large number of associate editors and participated in policy decisions.  In 2013 he was elevated to the position of senior deputy editor, where he ran large projects for the journal, helped shape journal policy, and served as vice Editor-in-Chief. The current Editor-in-Chief position caps a twenty-three year editing career with OSA journals.

“Whether it is serving as a reviewer or an editor, our individual efforts are critical to academic discourse.”

In his inaugural journal editorial, Jim described the changes in the academic publishing landscape over the last several decades, and how the internet has been central to this transformation.  Commenting on his first editing experience at Applied Optics in 1994, he observed, “Applied Optics was an all-print journal that was still sending review material through the US mail.  The thought of an all-electronic journal [such as Optics Express] was a foreign concept to many of us….Over the last twenty years, Optics Express has transformed the landscape of publishing in optics, and in the process has become one of the most desirable journals in which to publish.”

Reflecting on  his new position, Jim said, “I believe that peer-reviewed journals are central to a healthy academic community, and that we all have a duty to support the review process.  Whether it is serving as a reviewer or an editor, our individual efforts are critical to academic discourse.” With the appointment of his EiC position, Jim will be working to keep this discourse healthy for the future.

To provide some perspective within the realm of academic publishing, the 3200 articles published in Optics Express last year was second in number only to Nature Communications in the optics and photonics category. The H5 index, a measure of the number of highly cited articles published in the last five years, is second only to Nature Photonics.

Chair and Professorship Announcements for Nicola Elia, and Steven Koester

Prof. Nicola Elia has been appointed to the Vincentine Hermes-Luh Chair in Electrical Engineering, and Prof. Steve Koester has been appointed as Louis John Schnell Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Both positions are for a 5-year term and are effective July 1, 2019.

The Vincentine Hermes-Luh Chair was established in 1996 to recognize and retain outstanding faculty in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to teach and research issues in the systems area. This includes specialties in controls, and dynamic systems including robotic automation, networks, signal processing, and communication systems. Faculty holding the Chair are responsible for conducting research with graduate and undergraduate systems, and other faculty to strengthen and initiate new developments in the systems area of research.

Key donor to the Vincentine Hermes-Luh Chair, Dr. Johnson Y.S. Luh, earned his doctoral degree in 1963 from the department.

The Louis John Schnell Professorship was established in 2000 by Selma Riggs, a representative of the Louis John Schnell Estate, to recognize and retain outstanding faculty teaching and carrying out research and teaching in the department.

Louis John Schnell was a 1932 graduate of the department.  

Learn more about Prof. Nicola Elia’s research here

Learn more about Prof. Steven Koester’s research here, here, and here

Collaborative Team of University and Macalester College Students Win at MinneHack 2019

University of Minnesota students Anushree Ramanath (ECE), Kate Kuehl (CFANS), and Jacob Lindahl (CS&E), and Jacob Weightman from Macalester College formed a winning team and placed first overall at MinneHack 2019. Based on the problem statement, the team designed and implemented a website called FishInA.net—a site that helps fish farmers correctly estimate the optimum amount of feed for fish.

The project comprised an Internet of Things-based (IoT) Arduino water temperature sensor to help fish farmers make better decisions about what to feed their fish, how much, and at what time.  The hardware to measure temperature was developed using a temperature sensor, and Arduino kit with Bluetooth functionality to facilitate dynamic updates. The Node server was hosted on Google Cloud with an SQL database.

During the first round of the hackathon,  judges circulated listening to each team’s description of their project, and of the work they had completed over the previous twenty odd hours. Out of 80 participating teams, 6 teams were short-listed for the next round, where participants presented their work. The Unicersity-Macalester collaborative team’s presentation of the  implementation was well received. Following the presentation round, the team were were declared among the winners of the hackathon and each member was awarded a medal along with a Google Pixelbook as the prize. Their choice of domain name was also recognized with a special award
— Best Domain, sponsored by Domain.com, and each team member received a Raspberry Pi & PiHut Essential Kit.

In the photograph, place left to right: Jacob Weightman, Anushree Ramanath, Kate Kuehl, and Jacob Lindahl

MinneHack is a 24 hour hackathon that welcomes hackers from across the country to “create, collaborate, and compete to make something amazing!” The event is hosted by the University’s chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery. This year’s event was held on February 2-3, 2019. The largest hackathon in the Twin Cities, the event drew more than 300 students from 14 institutions across 5 states. The hackathon problems for 2019 centered on farming practices: agricultural data that could increase yield, and promote sustainable agricultural practices, and disease prediction and preventative measures that support shrimp farming.

Anushree Ramanath Wins Best Poster Award at 2019 IEEE PECI

Doctoral candidate Anushree Ramanath has received the best poster award at the 2019 IEEE Power and Energy Conference at Illinois. The poster is titled, “Analysis, Design, and Implementation of Cuk Converter with Integrated Magnetics for Residential Solar Applications.” Anushree’s poster was recognized among 166 entries from other institutions and industry entities.  

An ideal photovoltaic interface (such as a rooftop solar panel) has ripple-free terminal currents, and high step-up ratio.With multiple magnetic components sharing the same magnetic core, the Ćuk converter can operate as a DC transformer with ripple-free input and output currents. It is an ideal choice for applications such as residential solar panels because of its wide operating range. However, its use in such systems has lagged due to adaptability barriers such as design complexity and absence of a simple way to determine the integrated magnetics that will yield the zero-ripple currents. Anushree’s poster proposes a novel design of the Ćuk converter that is an efficient, reliable, and economical solution. She takes a descriptive approach and provides an analytical tool for determining the component values suitable for a range of applications for various Ćuk converter topologies. Subsequently, the resulting converter, based on Anushree’s  proposed design can be integrated with an inverter to produce a system equivalent to a micro-inverter.

Anushree is completing her doctoral research under the guidance of Oscar A. Schott Professor Ned Mohan (National Academy of Engineering) in power electronics and control systems. Her research interests span across power and renewable energy systems, embedded systems, and data science applications. In the photo above, Anushree is on the extreme right.

Anushree’s attendance at the conference was supported by an NSF Travel Grant that she was awarded based on an abstract of her research.