Prof. Jian-Ping Wang Appointed to Bob Hartmann Chair

Prof. Jian-Ping Wang has been appointed to the newly established Hartmann Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering. The Hartmann chair was established by a generous gift from Robert F. Hartmannn who received his B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1965 and went on to found Altera Corporation in 1983.

Prof. Wang says, “Being named Hartmann Chair is a great honor for me, and for my research group. In addition to enhancing my research position, it means funding for new research areas, which often is difficult to get.”

One of the areas he hopes to move forward on is “the Minnesota magnetic brain stimulation array,” a device that will treat Parkinson’s Disease and tremor. A conventional treatment option for Parkinson’s disease is electrical stimulation of the brain cells. Wangs says, “Magnetic brain stimulation would eliminate the issue of contact with the neuro cells that the electrical counterpart has. It also means higher density, low power and better control.”

Prof. Wang plans to combine his expertise in the cutting-edge field of spintronics, which uses the “spin” of an electron rather than its charge, with magnetic nanostructures to make a new system chip you can implant in the brain. “It’s a very new area that requires collecting prime data,” Wang said. “Funding from the Hartmann Chair will help us to explore this new research field.”

JP Wang, the Scientist

Prof. Wang’s research has resulted in more than 200 scientific publications, more than 40 patents, three start-up companies, and breakthroughs that could revolutionize medical and environmental testing, including biosensors that can detect disease from a single drop of body fluid. He earned global attention for his research on Fe16N2, a potential powerful rare-earth-free magnet that could replace expensive and less environmentally friendly rare earth magnets in wind turbines, motors, and generators.

He also leads the Center for Spintronic Materials, Interfaces and Novel Architectures (C-SPIN), a research collaboration of 33 experts from 19 universities that investigates groundbreaking technologies for the next generation of microelectronics. The center began more than two years ago with a $28 million grant from Semiconductor Research Corporation and DARPA. The center is positioned to address the key challenges of next generation computing and memory.

JP Wang, the Teacher

In addition to being a leader in his field, Prof. Wang has an excellent track record as a teacher. is well liked by his students. He received the outstanding professor award for his contribution to undergraduate teaching in 2010, an honor that he is extremely proud of.

“As a professor, your main mission is to teach the student and that’s generally a long-term investment,” Wang said. “It’s especially satisfying when students send you a note a couple years later telling you what impact you had on their lives.”

He also gets excited about students who express interest in becoming part of his research group. “I will take on any undergraduate student who wants to do research,” Wang said. “We have very good students here—from undergraduate to Ph.D. You can see the ones who are passionate about research. You can see it in their eyes. They want to do something great. So we work on new ideas, address issues, and try to solve problems.”

He says his research style is to focus on fundamental research but to target certain applications. With this mindset, Wang says he always expects some unexpected results. For now, Prof. Wang is focused on pursing the next big thing—developing a magnetic device for deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s. Although he believes his idea is still in the early stages, he can see the long-term impact of solving a problem.

(With significant input from Silva Young, CSE Principal Writer)