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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.